How Wealth Managers Undermine Society and What We Can Do About It

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London Fire Fuels Movement to Tackle Inequality in Britain

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(Photo: ChiralJon / Flickr)

Just hours after a 24-story London apartment building went up in flames on June 14, Faiza Shaheen appeared on Britain’s Sky TV to connect the dots between this horrific tragedy and the city’s rank as one of the world’s most unequal.

Inequality.org co-editor Chuck Collins and I sat down with Shaheen the following day, as the death toll, now estimated at 79, continued to rise. We talked about the public anger over the fire and what she sees as the related outcry for economic and racial equity that resulted in an unexpectedly strong showing for the UK Labour Party in the country’s June 8 election. Shaheen directs the Centre for Labour and Social Studies (Class), a London-based think tank.

Inequality.org: What’s the connection between the Grenfell Tower fire and London’s extremely high levels of inequality?

Faiza Shaheen: The neighborhood surrounding the tower has the biggest gap between rich and poor of any in the country. It’s a very wealthy area, but the people living in this particular tower were mostly working class ethnic minorities. Also, in terms of voice, you see the disparities. People living in this building had clearly spoken out about the problems with safety — you can find their blogs online. But they also said they knew nothing would be done until there’s a catastrophe. Well, now that’s happened and we need to make sure the authorities can’t just brush this away anymore.

Inequality.org: How much was the recent election about inequality?

Faiza Shaheen: I would say inequality was fundamental to understanding the narrative of this election. When it was first announced, people thought it would be about Brexit again. But the Labour Party very effectively pivoted away from that. Their language was about the elites and about the rest of us not getting salary increases and facing cuts to public services.

We’ve had these cuts for the past seven years, but people were far more aware of them in this election than in the last one. We heard about parents getting letters from their children’s teachers saying they didn’t have money because of the budget cuts and asking for donations. With the terror attacks in London and Manchester, there was a lot of talk about the culling of police officers and how that had affected community policing.

The conservatives thought we could have a conversation about being strong and stable. But as a country it’s very obvious that we’re not strong and stable right now.

Inequality.org: Didn’t Prime Minister Theresa May initially make some proposals to reduce inequality?

Faiza Shaheen: When she first became prime minister less than a year ago, she spoke in quite strong terms about inequality. But in this election she didn’t appeal to that language very much. And on some things, she reversed her position. For example, at one point she called for requiring large corporations to have worker representatives on their boards. Then later she said this could be voluntary and the “workers” could be managers. So it’s completely meaningless. Conservatives showed themselves to be very out of touch by sticking with the status quo.

Inequality.org: In the end, the Labour Party did gain 30 seats and the Conservative Party lost their majority, but Prime Minister May is still hanging on to power by pursuing a coalition with a small Northern Ireland party. Where do you see things going in the next year?

Faiza Shaheen: Most people think they’ll be going into election before the end of the five-year term because the Conservatives are really weakened. To build support, they’ll need to put more money into education and the National Health Service. They came across as quite mean in the campaign. When nurses asked ministers why they haven’t had a pay raise, they were told very dismissively that there isn’t a “magic money tree.” We’ve got nurses going to food banks. That really connects with people emotionally.

Inequality.org: Brexit negotiations began on June 19. How might this affect inequality?

Faiza Shaheen: The decision to withdraw from the European Union has already weakened the pound, making inflation worse. Because they don’t know what will happen, businesses are holding back on investments that could boost productivity. And while wages don’t always rise with productivity, this means we’re likely to continue to have stagnation in most sectors. Combined with automation and the lack of strong trade union rights, this could mean even worse inequality under Brexit.

Inequality.org: Where’s the movement energy now for tackling inequality?

Faiza Shaheen: With Labour doing so well, we feel there’s a mandate now to lift the pay cap on public service workers. We also feel May will have to abandon her plans to expand grammar schools, which are free schools that are academically selective. The evidence shows they don’t help with social mobility and they tear the school system apart. That can’t happen now.

We also think we can take advantage of the Conservative Party’s statements about addressing excessive pay at the top. They pledged to require corporations that receive public contracts to report their CEO-worker pay ratio. And even May’s weak current position on worker representation on boards gives something to push for that could affect executive pay. From the experiences in Germany and elsewhere we’ve seen that executives don’t want to talk about giving themselves bonuses with workers at the table.

Labour proposed to tax the top 5 percent much more and leave bottom 95 percent as is. That drew a lot of support but the Conservatives are very unlikely to support that.

Inequality.org: Like Bernie Sanders, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn did very well among young voters. Do you think this bloc will continue to be mobilized?

Faiza Shaheen: It was amazing to see tons of people coming out to volunteer for the campaign for the first time and really passionate about what Labour was calling for, especially young people. There was an app so that you could find your nearest marginal neighborhood, where it could go one way or another, and you could just turn up and help knock on doors. But they had so many volunteers they had to turn many away.

Labour had much less money than the Conservatives, but they really won the branding war. Corbyn definitely came out as cooler. There was even #Grime4Corbyn. People made videos with grime music mixed with Corbyn speeches, which worked well to encourage turnout by young people and ethnic minorities.

We’re in a political quagmire now in terms of the makeup of parliament. In terms of the movement, people are really enthused and passionate. Horrible things keep happening but they are a reminder that we need to keep fighting. It will be really important to keep the pressure up and find ways to campaign – it might be single issues, it might be Grenfell Tower and how we get justice there. Some of it will happen naturally because people have made friends through their political work.

We’re in permanent campaign mode now.

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Violence Should Be Treated As A Health Issue

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(Photo: Shutterstock)

Rather than viewing violence as tragic, yet inevitable, proposed legislation aims to bolster existing efforts to understand it as a preventable health crisis. Congressman Mike Quigley, (D-Ill.), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, has introduced the Public Health Violence Prevention Act (H.R. 2757). This bill would allocate $ 1 billion for the establishment of the National Center for Violence Prevention (NCVP) within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and provide funding for scaling up prevention efforts across the country.

If the bill is approved, the NCVP would build upon ongoing efforts while creating new programs. According to Quigley’s press release, this would include the Public Health Violence Prevention Program (PHVP), “aimed at deploying health-focused responses to violence and the prevention of violence across all sectors.”

Violence claims nearly 60,000 lives every year in the United States. According to the CDC’s Fatal Injury Reports, violence is the leading cause of death for African Americans between the ages of 15 and 34 and it is among the top five causes of death for everyone between the ages of 1 and 44.

Beyond the direct loss of life, injuries, and years of life lost, violence also follows patterns that mirror other major health issues; the more someone is exposed to any form of violence, the greater likelihood they have of being involved in violence. The associated trauma results in negative health outcomes and is the largest of all health inequities.

The Public Health Violence Prevention Act is driven by the urgent and straightforward understanding that violence is preventable and that violence begets violence. Broadly described, direct health-based prevention strategies, such as Cure Violence and programs associated with the National Network of Hospital-based Violence Intervention Programs, work with victims of violence, their families, and those at highest risk to reduce the risk of injury, re-injury, and/or the potential for retaliation.

For example, Cure Violence employs trained “violence interrupters,” who are credible individuals in the communities where they work, to stop the spread of violence by detecting and interrupting potential and ongoing conflicts, identifying and working with the highest risk individuals to address their needs and change behaviors, and changing social norms through community mobilization.

These programs have been independently evaluated and garnered support from local and state leaders across the United States. In addition to supporting these programs, the Public Health Violence Prevention Act proposes a significant investment in evidence-informed practices for healing the physical, emotional, and social wounds of violence.

The bill builds on the Framework for Action developed by the Movement towards Violence as a Health Issue, co-chaired by Dr. David Satcher, former Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. Al Sommer, former Dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Dr. Gary Slutkin, founder and CEO of Cure Violence. This collaborative movement is comprised of more than 400 practitioners and community leaders representing more than 40 cities and 40 national organizations.

The Movement towards Violence as a Health Issue seeks to “fundamentally change the discourse on and approach to violence from the prevailing paradigm that understands violence as moral corruption or human failing that only applies punitive strategies to address the issue, to one that includes an understanding and addressing of violence as a health problem – an epidemic.”

While a source for the funding for the initiatives detailed in the proposal has not yet been announced, $ 1 billion is a fraction of the cost that violence incurs in the United States. Initial hospitalizations for gunshot wounds alone cost the U.S. more than $ 700 million every year. The Institute for Peace and Economics estimates that costs associated with violence in the U.S. total nearly $ 460 billion. This should be a clear bipartisan priority.

The funding, disseminated through the NCVP, would be predominantly directed to health departments, universities and community-based organizations seeking to develop or expand proven practices that address the underlying issues contributing to the perpetuation of violence, and provide individuals and communities with resources to heal from traumatic experiences. These efforts are more crucial than ever as we continue to see an increase in violence in many cities across the country.

With 152 homicides so far this year, Baltimore, where I live, is facing its deadliest year on record, up 32 percent from the same time a year ago. The Baltimore Sun reports, “In absolute numbers, Baltimore trailed only Chicago in homicides through May. Chicago had 240 — but it’s five times larger than Baltimore.” Baltimore, as with other major U.S. cities, has prevention efforts underway, but these programs face budget cuts and limited funding needed to have a city-wide impact.

The Trump administration, with leadership from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has called for a focus to be placed on law and order responses to violence and crime, but city and state leaders (including law enforcement leaders) across the country have come to recognize that this is an issue we cannot arrest our way out of.

Progressive and bipartisan changes are happening at the state level across the country. One of the most recent examples was the decision by the Republican Attorney General of Ohio to invest $ 2.6 million in Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grants to establish a statewide trauma recovery network modeled after California’s network of Trauma Recovery Centers. This comprehensive effort provides much needed support and advocacy services to survivors of violence and their relatives.

Oppressive and discriminatory sentencing and policing practices have only further increased the conditions that contribute to susceptibility to violence and persistent inequities. We need to be treating violence as the health crisis that it is.

Echoing leaders in the health field, including former surgeon general’s, city health commissioners, and organizations such as the American Medical Association and the American Public Health Association, Quigley wrote in an op-ed in April, “We have seen the success [the public health approach] has had on various other potentially unsafe conditions from water sanitation and birth outcomes to disease prevention; just Imagine if we unleashed the power of health care and public health on violence as well.”

Instead of criminalizing people, we need our systems across all sectors to be helping individuals and communities heal from all forms of historical and ongoing violence. If city, state, and national leaders want to end the spread of violence and help communities reach healthier and more equitable outcomes, they must prioritize violence as a health issue that can be prevented.

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How to Go the Resistance Distance: Pop-Up Schools for Novice Activists

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(Photo: Yosanon Y / Shutterstock)

More than 200 people crammed into a meeting room at Smith College to listen to Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum speak at the May 4 opening ceremony of the Sojourner Truth School for Social Change Leadership. The new school provides in-person training opportunities in activism in five cities throughout Western Massachusetts.

“We need the Sojourner Truth School to lift us out of the deep funk that many of us have felt since the election of 2016,” said Tatum, president emerita of Spelman College and author of several bestselling books on the psychology of racism. “Ordinary people can get this started and make an impact.”

Since the Trump election, there has been an outpouring of interest in engaging with politics and social movements—and a hunger to learn new skills. The Truth School is one of a number of schools cropping up recently to train people to become activists in social change movements.

The Rev. Andrea Ayvazian co-founded the school and said the idea was to create a “school that teaches movement building skills—a ‘pop-up’ school that teaches useful skills to those seeking to resist Trump’s authoritarianism.” She said she hopes the school will “help us cling to democracy during the Trump years.”

The notion for the school emerged after Ayvazian attended a pop-up artist’s event in an empty store space. “I imagined an impermanent school, popping up around the valley.”

Ayvazian said that the initial response to her idea was overwhelmingly positive.  People have offered free spaces for the school, she said, and now the Truth School is popping up in artist studios, library halls, and community meeting rooms at religious congregations.

Read the full article on YES! Magazine.

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Gezocht: 2 leden voor de Raad van Toezicht

Fairfood is een innovatieve non-profit campagneorganisatie die zich hard maakt voor eerlijke en transparante voedselketens. Oftewel, fair food.

Wij zijn er om de mensen te helpen die ons voedsel zaaien, oogsten en verwerken. Want bitter genoeg leiden juist díe mensen vaak een leven vol armoede en honger. Op ons bord willen we voedsel dat afkomstig is van mensen die in waardigheid leven en werken. Waar het milieu niet onder lijdt en waarbij iedereen er sociaal én economisch op vooruitgaat.

Wij zoeken twee enthousiaste leden voor onze Raad van Toezicht.

Raad van Toezicht
De RvT van Fairfood bestaat uit vijf leden die gezamenlijk een betrokken, multidisciplinair team vormen. De leden vullen elkaar aan voor wat betreft kennis, ervaring en relevante netwerken. De onbezoldigde leden bewaken de missie van Fairfood en houden toezicht op de bestuurder. De RvT komt minimaal 4 maal per jaar bijeen.

Profiel leden Raad van Toezicht
Naast affiniteit voor eerlijke voeding zoeken we één kandidaat met de kwalificatie ‘ervaring met consumentengedrag, marketing & communicatie’, en de andere kandidaat met de kwalificatie ‘senior executive in de Nederlands voedingsmiddelen- en retailsector’.

Als lid van de Raad van Toezicht:

  • heeft u een brede maatschappelijke betrokkenheid;
  • heeft u aantoonbare affiniteit met de missie van Fairfood;
  • bent u bereid om uw netwerk actief in te zetten;
  • houdt u toezicht door een kritisch, onafhankelijke en open houding, gericht op verbetering;
  • heeft u bestuurlijke en/of toezichthoudende kennis en ervaring;
  • kunt u snel overzicht en inzicht verwerven;
  • heeft u inzicht in het veld van belanghebbenden.

Voor meer informatie kunt u contact opnemen met Jolande Sap (voorzitter RvT) of Sander de Jong (managing director). Uw gemotiveerde sollicitatie met curriculum vitae ontvangen wij graag voor 31 maart aanstaande via sander@fairfood.org.

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Honor Juneteenth by Closing the Racial Wealth Divide

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(Image: Khalil Bendib / OtherWords.org)

On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas. They carried some historic news: Slavery had finally and completely ended, they declared. All of America’s enslaved people were now free, some two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

That day in June would soon become “Juneteenth,” a holiday still celebrated in communities across the United States.

African Americans have now been free from slavery for over 150 years. Over the course of those years, the United States has made some appreciable and even impressive progress. In 1964, passage of the Civil Rights Act toppled Jim Crow. A year later, the Voting Rights Act challenged discriminatory voting laws.

We’ve even seen the election — and re-election — of the nation’s first black president.

So why, amid all this progress, does the Juneteenth holiday still resonate so powerfully for so many Americans?

Because Juneteenth reminds us how far we have yet to go. Racial inequality remains one of the top issues of our time. Black households, research shows, continue to lag economically behind their white counterparts, in both income and wealth.

Last summer, the Institute for Policy Studies and the Corporation for Enterprise Development explored that inequality in a report called the The Ever-Growing Gap, which focused on the essential role wealth plays in achieving financial security and opportunity.

Over the past 30 years, the report found, the average wealth of white families grew at three times the rate of growth for black families. If those trends continue, black families would have to work another 228 years to amass the amount of wealth white families already hold today.

That’s almost as long as the 245 years that legal slavery stained colonial America.

Over the course of those years, slave labor built the backbone of America’s economy — and gave white families a 245-year head start on building household wealth and overcoming economic insecurity.

Juneteenth helps us remember this history — and we need to remember.

The conventional narrative around wealth building in America simply ignores slavery and its aftermath. Those with more than ample wealth, the narrative goes, fully merit what they have. And others merit less.

“Most people look at the story of inequality through the lens of deservedness: People get what they deserve,” writes my colleague Chuck Collins in his book Born on Third Base.

The standard narrative, he says, implies “that people are poor because they don’t try as hard, have made mistakes, or lack wit and wisdom.” And the rich, the same story goes, have worked “harder, smarter, or more creatively.”

This “deservedness” narrative never acknowledges the discrimination and other barriers that have blocked black economic progress, or the public policies that have kept these barriers intact — things like housing and employment discrimination, mass incarceration, and tax policies that favor the wealthy over poor people of all colors.

It’s time to take a close look at federal policies and the role they play in keeping the growth of black wealth stagnant. This Juneteenth, let’s rededicate ourselves to closing the racial wealth divide.

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Is It Possible to Undo 2016?

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Pictured: an actual photo of the year 2016. (Photo: Bart Everson / Flickr)

The two events that put 2016 in the history books — alongside other pivotal years such as 2001, 1989, and 1945 — were, of course, the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom and the election of Donald Trump in the United States. What makes 2016 different, however, is its apparent revocability.

Germany and Japan, after all, didn’t try to restart World War II. Nobody attempted to rebuild the Berlin Wall. And the lives lost on 9/11 can’t be restored.

But last week, both the U.K. and the U.S. took significant steps to hit the rewind button on the momentous events of 2016.

In Washington, former FBI chief James Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee and confirmed what everyone else has known for some time: Donald Trump is a bully, he doesn’t care about constitutional checks and balances, and he lies.

It’s not quite the clear-cut obstruction of justice that impeachment supporters need — and both Trump and his followers have bizarrely interpreted Comey’s testimony as a vindication of the president’s conduct — but pressure is nevertheless growing from groups like MoveOn and politicians like Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Al Green (D-TX) to begin the process.

In the UK, meanwhile, voters went to the polls and delivered a stunning repudiation of the Conservative Party of Theresa May and her hardline stance on withdrawing from the European Union. May had called early elections in the hope of scoring a knockout victory against the Labor Party and strengthening her hand in upcoming negotiations on exiting the EU. Instead, the Conservatives lost their parliamentary majority, and a surging Labor Party under Jeremy Corbyn is leading calls for May to step down.

Those who applaud what happened in the twin votes of 2016 insist that both decisions are effectively irreversible. At most, UK voters can soften their exit from the EU. At best, U.S. voters can force Trump to step down, with his administration continuing under the leadership of Mike Pence.

Repairing the damage done in 2016 has to start somewhere. Don’t, however, fall into the trap of thinking that a technocratic fix — an impeachment process, a kinder and gentler set of negotiations with Brussels — will be enough.

After all, the votes of 2016 weren’t decided by brilliant hacks (by the Russians with “fake news” or by the Trump team with their targeted Facebook campaign). Voters were expressing their very real anger at the status quo represented by Hillary Clinton and Brussels, respectively. Returning to the status quo ante won’t be enough to address the underlying problems.

A Pence Foreign Policy?

Let’s begin with the delicious possibility that Donald Trump resigns or is ousted by Congress. True, it’s hard to imagine Trump throwing in the towel even if his support dwindles to Ivanka and Jared and Melania and Barron. Also, Congress won’t likely take impeachment seriously unless and until the Dems recapture the House in the mid-term elections. Still, a boy can dream.

Yet how quickly dreams can become nightmares. After all, President Mike Pence wouldn’t make the world any safer.

Hady Amr and Steve Feldstein spell it out in The Hill:

Among the Republican establishment, particularly the neoconservative wing, Pence has an impeccable reputation. Many describe him as a “hawk’s hawk.” He was a strong proponent of the Iraq War, has vigorously stood up for a strong military and “American values” and, as vice president, has taken on an informal role as an emissary to NATO and other alliances…

Likewise, Pence’s evangelical Christian faith is central to his identity. He has proudly built up a reputation as one of the most conservative lawmakers in the country and frequently describes himself as “a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order.” There is a high probability that Pence would explicitly embed religious morals in U.S. foreign policy and push an activist social conservative agenda.

The personally repugnant Donald Trump seems somehow all the more vulgar when standing next to the quieter and more unassuming Pence. But in fact, Trump’s views on the world are less ideologically fixed than Pence’s. Moreover, Trump doesn’t have the congressional chops to get legislation passed. Pence, on the other hand, commands a good deal of respect among conservatives on Capitol Hill.

The current vice president, who once described himself as a decaf Rush Limbaugh during his right-wing radio days, has the ability to unite the Republicans going into 2020. The neocons and the religious right would both happily go back to cohabitating under Pence. Moderate Republicans, lulled by Pence’s soothing tone, would be less likely to bolt the party. Even some Democrats and independents who voted for Trump might decide that Pence’s proximity to the putative presidential outsider qualifies him to continue to “drain the swamp.”

Underscoring Pence’s problematic positions is by no means a plea to go easy on Trump. Perhaps enough mud will fly during the investigations that it will besmirch Pence’s snow-white hair as well. Just don’t fall for the ploy that Claire Underwood is any better than the psychotic Frank.

Softening Brexit

Theresa May is already backpedaling on her bold Brexit promises. She’s promised “to listen to all voices” in her party, though her party has now shrunk after last week’s election. Her promise has less to do with Brexit than with keeping her Conservative party in power.

After all, if Scottish Tories abandon the party over May’s position on Brexit — Scotland overwhelmingly favored staying in the EU — the Conservative Party won’t be able to remain on top. The same holds true for the Democratic Unionist Party from Northern Ireland, the party that May needs to form a ruling coalition. The Irish, too, opposed Brexit, and Northern Ireland may prefer reuniting with the south and retaining EU membership to an arranged marriage with May.

However much May might be reconsidering her approach to the EU, the last election was by no means a referendum on Brexit. The Labor Party, under the EU-ambivalent Corbyn, did not promise to undo the results of the referendum. The only party that pushed hard for the “remain” option, the Liberal Democrats, saw a significant increase in their admittedly small parliamentary faction, while the UK Independence Party, which pushed for Brexit, has lost all representation in parliament.

Corbyn played his poor hand quite well during the campaign. But imagine what he might have achieved with a truly visionary program? Labor may have lost a golden opportunity to position itself as the party to save the UK by pushing not only for another referendum but a reform package for the EU itself.

The negotiations between the UK and EU still boil down to a trade between access to the European market and freedom of movement across the Channel. Theresa May and the hardliners think that they can get the first without the second. But there’s no reason for the EU to play softball.

Brexit the vote was bold. Brexit the agreement may well suffer a death by a thousand cuts. After all, May has to negotiate every potentially controversial step not only with the EU but with both the hardline Euroskeptics within her party and the now emboldened opposition.

As the traffic reporters constantly tells us: expect delays.

Saved by the Bureaucracy

I’ve never been a big fan of red tape. But if an entire system is heading toward a cliff, there’s no better brake than bureaucracy.

In Trumpland, the courts have tied up the noxious Muslim travel ban. The attorneys general of Maryland and DC are now going after the president’s personal sweetheart deals by invoking the emoluments clause. Congress and special counsel Robert Mueller are digging into RussiaGate. The Democrats are showing some backbone — a wee bit of spinal rectitude — on Trump’s legislative forays. Most recently, they nearly blocked Trump’s effort to send $ 500 million in arms to Saudi Arabia. And nearly 200 congressional Dems have followed the lead of DC and Maryland by filing suit against the president using the same “emoluments” argument.

It’s not just the “resistance” that is staying Trump’s hand. It’s also the sheer incompetence of all the president’s men — and they’re mostly men — in navigating the bureaucracy. Many of Trump’s appointees are actively hostile to administration, any administration. Guess what: That makes it kind of hard to get anything done.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the pond, plenty of Brits wanted out of the EU precisely because of all the bureaucratic rules from Brussels. Then they discovered that adherence to those regulations brought enormous benefits like borderless travel, agricultural subsidies, and the option to retire on the coast of Spain.

Here, too, the EU bureaucracy may well grind down British resistance until, in the end, the Brexit they get is not the Brexit they signed up for.

Two cheers for democracy, novelist E.M. Forster once wrote: “one because it admits variety and two because it permits criticism. Two cheers are quite enough: there is no occasion to give three.” I feel the same way about bureaucracy: it can tie up would-be dictators and regulate the functioning of large, diverse bodies. If bureaucrats can help rewind the mistakes of 2016, they deserve two cheers (but no more).

To get that third cheer, it’s necessary to address the grievances that led to those two votes in the first place. Economic change has to work for the people, not the plutocrats. And politicians have to represent the interests of the population, not just wealthy donors. When that happens, we can finally hit rewind on 2016, and then, finally, move forward into a more equitable and sustainable future.

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Bedrijven langs de mensenrechtenmeetlat gelegd

Heb jij je ook ooit afgevraagd hoe de grootste bedrijven ter wereld omgaan met mensenrechten?

Eindelijk is er een ranglijst! Twee jaar lang heeft het Business & Human Rights Resource Centre eraan gewerkt. Ze hebben de top 98 van bedrijven in de landbouw, kleding en mijnbouw een score gegeven op basis van hun mensenrechtenbeleid. Dit is weergegeven in de Corporate Human Rights Benchmark.

De uitkomsten zijn teleurstellend. Van de 60 bedrijven die zijn onderzocht op hun doelstellingen voor Leefbaar Inkomen, scoorden maar liefst 59 bedrijven geen enkel punt. Het enige bedrijf dat een stappenplan daarnaartoe heeft opgesteld (en uitvoert), is Unilever.

Slechts twee andere bedrijven scoorden meer dan zestig punten. Van de Nederlandse bedrijven staat Unilever zesde, met 55 punten. De twee andere Nederlandse bedrijven die vanwege hun omvang op de lijst staan, Shell en Heineken, scoren veel slechter. Absolute laagscoorders van de lijst zijn het Amerikaanse Costco, en Yum! Brands, bekend van o.a. Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken en Taco Bell. Zij worden op de voet gevolgd door McDonald’s en Wal-Mart.

Fairfood is blij met deze ‘mensenrechtenmeetlat’, waar grote investeerders hun bedrijven langs kunnen leggen. Al jaren maken we ons sterk voor betere werktijden, eerlijke beloning en het voorkomen van kinderarbeid.

De ranglijst laat een cluster van bedrijven zien die de leiding nemen. Hier is de top 10 bedrijven:

  1. BHP Billiton
  2. Marks & Spencer Group
  3. Rio Tinto
  4. Nestlé
  5. Adidas
  6. Unilever
  7. Total
  8. Hennes & Mauritz (H&M)
  9. Kellogg
  10. Anglo American

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Black-led Labor Organizers Discuss Challenges and Tactics of Black Worker Organizing in the Trump Era at State of Black Workers in America Conference

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(Photo: Victoria Borneman / Institute for Policy Studies)

(Washington, DC) – Six months into the Trump administration Black labor organizers are facing new and old challenges. The Institute for Policy Studies held its 3rd State of Black Workers in America Conference at historic Howard University led by our Black Worker Initiative project to discuss big-picture national trends impacting black workers, as well as the innovative Black-led labor organizing happening in the U.S. Panelists engaged with the audience to talk about topics from the women of color-led fight for a domestic worker bill of rights, to alternative power for Black workers, to partnerships for workforce training with German corporations in the Deep South.

Three dynamic panels included:

We Dream In Black: Telling the Story of Black Women Low-Wage Domestic Organizing in the South, moderated by Alicia Garza of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. This all women of color led panel introduced the partnership between We Dream in Black and the Black Worker Initiative. It focused on telling the compelling stories of Black female domestic workers in North Carolina and Georgia who are fighting for better wages, access to benefits, and a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights at the state level. This project hopes to move both hearts and policy in the coming years.

“While Black women are working hard, democracy isn’t working for us. Black families depend on Black women, yet Black women face the highest poverty rates in the nation, second only to indigenous women,” Alicia Garza of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Black Lives Matter said. “We do our part to make this country better—we vote at higher rates than any other racial or ethnic group. It’s time for an agenda that puts Black women at the center. When Black women succeed, all women succeed.”

What the Hell do We Have to Lose? Black Workers Reflect on the First Six Months of the Trump Administration, moderated by MSNBC’s Joy Ann-Reid. This panel featured Carmen Berkley of Planned Parenthood (formerly the Civil Rights Director for the AFL-CIO), Tanya Wallace-Gobern of the National Black Worker Center Project and the Black Worker Initiative’s own Marc Bayard.  The panel discussed big-picture national trends impacting black workers, especially in the Deep South. These former and current labor leaders and activists discussed the effects of this administration on civil rights, the shift in focus back to white male workers, alternative power for Black workers, and the power of narrative change.

“This Trump moment has shown the world that the needs of U.S. workers have not been met and many of them are suffering. But if we continue to leave Black workers out of the conversation, we will never see a revitalization of a labor movement that serves the people,” Marc Bayard, director of the Black Worker Initiative at the Institute for Policy Studies said.

Building Bridges Between German Corporations, the Civil Rights Movement, and Labor. The Black Worker Initiative is seeking to build stronger and more positive relationships between German firms working in the U.S. and civil rights, academic, labor and racial justice organizations.  Our focus states are Mississippi and Alabama.  This panel showed the success of our early efforts. This panel including powerful opening remarks from DNC Chair Tom Perez. Perez set up an important frame as to the value of the German apprenticeship model for education, jobs and dignity at work.  Perez stated, “In Germany, everyone has the same stature.  We devalue apprenticeship here. [We] need to change that perception.” representatives from the Mississippi NAACP, Foundation for the Mid South and Adah International discussed vigorously the role of German corporations in the Deep South and their relationship to the Black communities that live and work there. Conversations about future partnerships and access to workforce skills and training in German companies for Black high school and college students was a key to the discussion.

This day-long event attended by one hundred and fifty labor, civil rights, women’s and community activists as well as a number of foundations and academics.

See the full program here.

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