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Anti-social media

February 21, 2014 Comments off

Anti-social media
Source: Demos

How to define the limits of free speech is a central debate in most modern democracies. This is particularly difficult in relation to hateful, abusive and racist speech. The pattern of hate speech is complex, but there is an increasing focus on the volume and nature of hateful or racist speech taking place online.

This study aims to inform the discussion over free speech and hate speech by examining specifically the way racial, religious and ethnic slurs are employed on Twitter.

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Categories: bigotry, Demos, social media

Underwriting Bad Jobs: How Our Tax Dollars Are Funding Low-wage Work and Fueling Inequality

May 9, 2013 Comments off

Underwriting Bad Jobs: How Our Tax Dollars Are Funding Low-wage Work and Fueling Inequality
Source: Demos

Every day, Americans benefit from public structures that contribute to our quality of life. When we walk into a clean, well-maintained post office; drive on federal highways; send our kids to school knowing they’ll get a hot lunch; or call the Social Security benefits office with a question, we see our federal tax dollars at work, providing public services we rely on.

What most Americans don’t know is that many of the workers keeping our nation humming are paid low wages, earning barely enough to afford essentials like food, health care, utilities and rent. Through federal contracts and other funding, our tax dollars are fueling the low-wage economy and exacerbating inequality. Hundreds of billions of dollars in federal contracts, grants, loans, concession agreements and property leases go to private companies that pay low wages, provide few benefits, and offer employees little opportunity to work their way into the middle class. At the same time, many of these companies are providing their executives with exorbitant compensation.

We find that nearly two million private sector employees working on behalf of America earn wages too low to support a family, making $12 or less per hour. This is more than the number of low-wage workers at Walmart and McDonalds combined.1 Yet, if anything, this figure underestimates the total number of poorly-paid workers funded by our tax dollars. Our analysis encompasses U.S. workers employed by government contractors, paid by federal health care spending, supported by Small Business Administration loans, working on federal construction grants, and maintaining buildings leased by the federal government. This encompasses the largest share of poorly-paid workers funded by our taxes. However, other streams of funding have yet to be analyzed. For example, loans and subsidies from the Department of Agriculture fund giant agribusinesses that employ more than a million farm workers, while grants from the Department of Education fund low-wage assistant teachers, bus monitors and cooks in Head Start and other programs. Due to lack of data, retail and food service workers for concessionaires of the National Parks Service and other federal agencies also fall outside our analysis.

These are employees working on behalf of America, doing jobs that we have decided are worthy of public funding—yet they’re being treated in a very un-American way. Our nation has a history of ensuring our tax dollars provide decent jobs. From the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act to Executive Order 11246 of 1965, and a host of other laws and executive actions, our laws have mandated that companies working on behalf of the American people are upholding high standards of employment practices. Yet as the nature and prevalence of federal contracting, lending and grant-making have changed, and some laws have been weakened, working people have fallen through the cracks.

The State of Young American

November 3, 2011 Comments off

The State of Young American
Source: Demos
From press release:

Today’s 20-somethings are the first generation, as a whole, to face downward economic mobility compared to their parents’ generation, according to a new report from national policy center Demos and youth advocacy organization Young Invincibles. The report, entitled “The State of Young America,” details how the Great Recession has intensified the impact of thirty years of negative economic trends across young Americans’ lives, starting with an analysis of wages: Almost all young people make less than the previous generation at the same age, with young men making $.90 for each dollar their fathers earned, and those with only a high school diploma far less.

The release also includes compelling results from an exclusive national poll of young people, conducted by Lake Research Partners and Bellwether Research & Consulting. The poll shows how a plurality (48 percent) believe that Millenials may be worse off than their parents and 68 percent believe it is harder to make ends meet since the Great Recession, while 69 percent still believe the American Dream is achievable for their generation.

“The State of Young America” also includes policy recommendations from Demos and first-hand accounts of struggling young Americans that illuminate the stories behind the troubling data findings.

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