Our list of the top 10 things that happened this year besides the obvious COVID.
by Jeff Thomas
10. LSU’s Championship run
Joe Burrow, Justin Jefferson, Clyde Edwards Elaire, Patrick Queen led one of the greatest football teams in college history. The championship game victory made this the best played football season of any college team ever.
9. Kobe Bryant killed
Taking a helicopter ride with his daughter and others, Kobe Bryant died after the copter crashed into a mountain on a foggy morning. One of the greatest basketball players ever, Bryant had just embarked upon a life outside of sports.
8 Murder of Ahmad Arbery coming to light
White supremacists decided a black man should not e allowed to jog in their neighborhood. They chased him down and executed him in cold blood on the street. Their crimes went uninvestigated for months. This sparked even greater outrage.
7 Death of George Floyd
We all saw George Floyd’s murder. Officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck and suffocated him without mercy. Floyd’s death spared worldwide protests against racism and police brutality.
President Donald Trump knew of the risks of the oncoming pandemic. Trump ignored these dire warnings and put Americans’ lives at risk. Since then millions of people have been infected. Hundreds of thousands have died.
4. Democratic primary challengers
The most diverse group of real contenders battled to become the Democratic Party nominee for president. The group proffered a chorus of new ideas to improve the country. The diversity of thought helped eventual nominee Joe Biden develop a comprehensive plan to defeat Trump.
3. Kamala Harris named VP nominee – then winning
A woman who identifies as African American and has served as a state Attorney General and US Senator not only became the VP on a major ticket in American politics, but actually helped push the ticket to victory. The US now has its’ first woman VP who also happens to be African American.
2. The challenges of virtual learning and work
During the latest pandemic in history, Americans have shifted to online distance learning and work. The challenges to educational systems is unparalleled and completely unknown. Many children simply do not have the bandwidth (literally and figuratively) to successfully navigate the new world. Businesses also face the challenges going virtual. Some are able to adapt while others are forced to close permanently.
1. Cedric Richmond named a senior advisor to the President
Louisiana has a native son in one of the most powerful positions in the country. In Congress Republicans blocked the Democrat Richmond. Now he can parlay his influence into meaningful legislation that benefits all Americans and New Orleanians.
Has your sex life gone stale? Between kids, work, the economy and other pressures, steamy sex may seem like a fantasy. (Although there’s a place for that too!) Are you ready to turn up the heat again? These tips will help get you in the mood, both physically and mentally…
Sweaty bodies, tangled sheets, moaning… It sounds X-rated, but it could be real life.Read on for the top 19 tips and other things you need to know to have the best sex ever, even if you’ve already got a great sex life (there’s always room for improvement, right?).1. Know That You’re Entitled to Fabulous Sex So what if you haven’t lost the baby weight, certain body parts aren’t as high as they used to be or you have a pimple the size of a volcano. It doesn’t matter.
“When you’re in bed and making love, your partner’s not worried about any little imperfections a woman might have,” says Hilda Hutcherson, M.D., author of Pleasure: A Woman’s Guide to Getting the Sex You Want, Need and Deserve (Perigee).Besides, his body probably isn’t perfect either. Do most guys let a large belly or back hair get in the way of a good time? Well, follow his lead.
2. Make a Date
Scheduling sex might sound too controlling to be much fun, but sometimes planning is in order. You book time in your calendar to work out and run errands – why not do the same to prioritize sex?
“This is important, so you have to make room for it and push it forward,” Dr. Hutcherson says.Reconnecting with your partner as a lover – not roommates or parents – reminds you why you were attracted to him in the first place. And once you’ve made a sex appointment, the anticipation can be almost as titillating as the event. So kick it up a notch by trading racy texts or leaving a sultry voicemail on his cell.
Surveys show that American women have a wide variety of sex:
17% have tried bondage
20% have used a blindfold
30% have had anal sex
62% masturbate (usually three to four times a week)
40% use vibrators
14% look at online porn
70% need clitoral stimulation to slide into home plate
18% opt for oral sex
Your quirks and predilections aren’t so strange, so quit worrying and enjoy.
4. Leave the Porn Positions to the Pros
Unless Jenna Jameson is your alter ego, your guy probably doesn’t expect you to do the Reverse Cowgirl with a Half-Gainer in the bedroom.“There are a lot of ridiculous standards out there about how women should be or look or act,” says Michele Sugg, a certified sex therapist in Branford, Conn. “Let all that go. Reality is, men are turned on by you.”Your partner will be aroused by seeing you turned on too.
5. Lube Up
The right lubricant can make so-so sex great. There are several types of lube to try, including water- and silicone-based, so experiment to see what works best for you.
As a general rule, avoid anything that warms, cools or tastes like a fruit roll-up; these can irritate the skin, says Ellen Barnard, sex educator/counselor and co-owner of A Woman’s Touch in Madison, Wis.
6. Get Squeaky Clean
Use mouthwash and baby wipes. Keeping everything fresh is just good manners, right?
7. Go Fish
Fish oil reduces inflammation, blood pressure and dangerous LDL cholesterol. But guess what? It also helps open up those very small blood vessels down there.Plus, fish oil boosts the testosterone in your body (yes, women have this hormone, too), so “you notice your arousal more quickly,” Barnard explains.You can get a hefty dose of fish oil by eating salmon, mackerel, lake trout, sardines or herring twice a week, but it may be easier to take supplements.
8. Trade Pain for Pleasure
Sex should feel amazing. If it’s painful, you need to figure out why. It may be a simple matter of changing positions or adding lubricant.But it could also be a yeast infection, an undiagnosed STD, endometriosis, painful bladder syndrome, vulvodynia or even cancer. Don’t try to diagnose it on your own; see your gynecologist. And check out “5 Sex Problems Women Face.”If you’re still hurting and nothing is medically wrong, consider talking with a certified sex therapist. (You can find one through www.aasect.org.)“There can be emotional reasons for painful sex, particularly for women who’ve been raised in religious households or who’ve been sexually abused or raped,” Sugg says.
9. Medication Can Hurt Your Libido
Some medications can blunt your sex drive, including antidepressants, blood pressure medications, even birth control pills.If you haven’t been feeling as frisky as you’d like, talk to your doctor about whether your prescription might be putting the chill on your libido. You might be able to take a lower dose or switch to a different drug.
10. Get to Know Yourself
Forget what you see in movies: Only about 30% of women reach orgasm through penetration alone. That means a whopping 70% of us need hands-on help to cross the finish line.“It’s not all up to your partner,” Sugg says. “Share the responsibility and take on pieces of your own sexual pleasure.”
Touch yourself to bump up the heat, so you can have more – and better – orgasms, she says.
11. Give Him Direction
He may not want you telling him how to drive, but he’ll appreciate direction about what pleases you.Just don’t be bossy about it (unless he’s into that, of course). A simple “It drives me wild when you [fill in the blank]” can work wonders.If he’s still not getting it, take him by the hand and lead him down the path of your pleasure. Show him specifically where and how (lightly/firmly, slowly/quickly) you like to be touched.The reward? A bone-shivering orgasm.
12. Cultivate a Rich Fantasy Life
You’ve heard it before: The most important sex organ is the brain. So stock it with sexy images to get your motor revved.
“It’s one more tool to bring to your play,” Barnard says. “There’s plenty of tasteful stuff out there, so you don’t have to expose yourself to something that’s going to offend you.”Catch a couple of late-night movies on cable, or peruse erotica at bookstores.Still missing that spark? Create your own porn by describing a favorite fantasy in a diary or post it anonymously on a blog. Other people’s comments may help fuel new scenarios you and your partner can use.
13. Create a Sexy Space
You want your bedroom to feel like a place for good lovin’, not an office or nursery school.Remodeling isn’t required. Simply clear out the kid toys, put away the work stuff and add small touches like candles or flowers.
14. Get Some Comic Relief
Another thing that happens only in movies: sex without gaffes. In real life, something’s bound to go wrong – one of you farts, you pull a muscle, the dog jumps on you, you fall off the bed.The only thing you can do – after checking for broken bones – is to laugh and roll with it. Nothing kills the mood like the pressure to have “perfect sex.”
15. Find Birth Control That Works for You
It’s impossible to let yourself go if you’re worried about getting pregnant. Which is why the best birth control is the one you’ll use without fail.
Fortunately, if you do slip up, there’s Plan B, an emergency contraception pill that you can use up to 5 days after sex. It’s available without a prescription for women 17 years and older.“Plan B is a backup for the condom that breaks or the diaphragm that’s 20 miles away,” says Bruce Rosenzweig, M.D., director of urogynecology at Rush University Medical Center, in Chicago. “It’s not recommended as a primary form of contraception.”
16. Get a Handle on Vascular Conditions
Some health problems affect your sex life. For example, heart disease, arthritis, hypertension and diabetes “can profoundly affect our sexual health and pleasure,” Barnard says.What’s the connection? Blood flow.
“Sexual arousal is completely dependent on the blood flow to the tiny blood vessels in our genitals, including the clitoris, which gets erect the same way a man’s penis does,” Barnard explains.So anything that impedes the rush of blood to your nether regions can substantially curb your enthusiasm. See your doctor for help.
17. Catch Some Zzz’s
About 67% of women have trouble sleeping, according to the National Sleep Foundation. And, as many working women know, when you’re really tired, you’d simply rather snooze than get busy with your partner.
18. Get Fit Down There
You’ve probably heard it before, but there are good reasons why you should do your Kegels: “Orgasms are your pelvic floor spasming,” Barnard explains. So “if your pelvic floor muscles aren’t very strong, you’re not going to feel much.”
So how do you do Kegels? Just squeeze the pelvic floor muscles (these are the ones that control urination) for several seconds and release and relax the muscles for several seconds.Make it more fun by squeezing them in sync to music while you’re driving, recommends Lauri Romanzi, M.D., an urogynecologist at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell Medical Center. Do several sets of 20 to 30 reps per set daily, she says.To make sure you’re Kegeling correctly, put a mirror between your legs and watch as you squeeze.“The perinea – the skin between the anus and vagina – should pull in, almost like someone’s pulling that skin into your body,” Dr. Romanzi says.
19. Take a Pilates Class
Why Pilates and not another type of exercise?“Pilates works a lot of ancillary pelvic floor muscles, like the transverse, or higher, abdominal muscles,” Barnard says.Working your transverse abdominals will strengthen your pelvic floor muscles too, similar to what Kegels accomplish.
A new study of the city’s program that sent cash to struggling individuals finds dramatic changes
Two years ago, the city of Stockton, California, did something remarkable: It brought back welfare.
Using donated funds, the industrial city on the edge of the Bay Area tech economy launched a small demonstration program, sending payments of $500 a month to 125 randomly selected individuals living in neighborhoods with average incomes lower than the city median of $46,000 a year. The recipients were allowed to spend the money however they saw fit, and they were not obligated to complete any drug tests, interviews, means or asset tests, or work requirements. They just got the money, no strings attached.
These kinds of cash transfers are a common, highly effective method of poverty alleviation used all over the world, in low-income and high-income countries, in rural areas and cities, and particularly for households with children. But not in the United States. The U.S. spends less of its GDP on what are known as “family benefits” than any other country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, save Turkey. The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program spends less than one-fifth of its budget on direct cash aid, and its funding has been stuck at the same dollar amount since 1996—when the Clinton administration teamed up with congressional Republicans to turn it into a compulsory-work program.
Those changes sliced into the safety net, allowing millions of people to fall through.
Most adults without children have no program to help them keep gas in the car and a roof over their head, no matter how poor they are. Most families with kids don’t have one either. In the United States, poverty is used as a cudgel to get people to work. We got rid of welfare for poor families’ and poor individuals’ own good, the argument goes. Give people money, and they stop working. They become dependent on welfare. They never sort out the problems in their life. The best route out of poverty is a hand up, not a handout.
Stockton has now proved this false. An exclusive new analysis of data from the demonstration project shows that a lack of resources is its own miserable trap. The best way to get people out of poverty is just to get them out of poverty; the best way to offer families more resources is just to offer them more resources.
The researchers Stacia Martin-West of the University of Tennessee and Amy Castro Baker of the University of Pennsylvania collected and analyzed data from individuals who received $500 a month and from individuals who did not. Some of their findings are obvious. The cash transfer reduced income volatility, for one: Households getting the cash saw their month-to-month earnings fluctuate 46 percent, versus the control group’s 68 percent. The families receiving the $500 a month tended to spend the money on essentials, including food, home goods, utilities, and gas. (Less than 1 percent went to cigarettes and alcohol.) The cash also doubled the households’ capacity to pay unexpected bills, and allowed recipient families to pay down their debts. Individuals getting the cash were also better able to help their families and friends, providing financial stability to the broader community.
“It let me pay off some credit cards that I had been living off of, because my household income wasn’t large enough,” one recipient named Laura Kidd-Plummer told me. “It helped me to be able to take care of my groceries without having to run to the food bank three times a month. That was very helpful.” During the study, Laura also experienced a spell of homelessness when the apartment building she was living in had a fire.
The Stockton cash helped her secure a new apartment, ensuring that she could afford movers and a security deposit.
The researchers also found that the guaranteed income did not dissuade participants from working—adding to a large body of evidence showing that cash benefits do not dramatically shrink the labor force and in some cases help people work by giving them the stability they need to find and take a new job. In the Stockton study, the share of participants with a full-time job rose 12 percentage points, versus five percentage points in the control group. In an interview, Martin-West and Castro Baker suggested that the money created capacity for goal setting, risk taking, and personal investment.
“The big change was how it helped me see myself,” Tomas Vargas, another recipient, told me. “It was dead positive: I am an entrepreneur, I think of business ideas, I make business choices, I want to be financially stable.” When the program started, he worked in logistics. Now, in addition to nurturing his side projects, he is a case manager for individuals on parole.
He noted that receiving the money had made him more civically and politically engaged, if also more infuriated at the country’s scorn toward low-income households. “It’s like it’s a big game,” he said. “These people are living with a silver spoon, talking—but how about you walk this life? Have you ever even seen it?”
Finally, the cash recipients were healthier, happier, and less anxious than their counterparts in the control group. “Cash is a better way to cure some forms of depression and anxiety than Prozac,” says Michael Tubbs, a former mayor of Stockton, who spearheaded the project. “So many of the illnesses we see in our community are a result of toxic stress and elevated cortisol levels and anxiety, directly attributed to income volatility and not having enough to cover your basic necessities. That’s true in the public-health crisis we’re in now.”
More work, less destitution, more family stability, less strained social networks, less stress, fewer incidences of homelessness, fewer skipped meals: This is what welfare could give the country.
And it just might. America’s welfare politics have shifted radically of late, in part because of the economic pressures felt by Millennials, the first generation in recent U.S. history likely to end up poorer than their parents. Two once-in-a-lifetime recessions, persistent wage stagnation, wild wealth and income inequality, the student-debt crisis, housing shortages, and a broader cost-of-living crisis have made redistributive policies much more palatable to them—and they’re now the country’s largest voting bloc. The pandemic has shifted U.S. welfare politics too, emphasizing the need for child-care benefits and demonstrating the power of cash as stimulus.
Dems Pushing to send money to families
Right now, Democrats are pushing to send low- and middle-income parents $300 a month for each child younger than 6 and $250 a month for children ages 6 to 18 as part of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus-relief package. The program would be temporary, but there is wide support for making it a permanent entitlement. Senator Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican, has put forward a proposal to eliminate TANF and replace it with a straightforward child allowance. A number of state, local, and nonprofit efforts are getting going too.
The Stockton demonstration project is ending. But a group Tubbs founded, called Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, is extending the initiative nationwide, with cities from Compton to Gary to Newark making plans to send low-income residents cash.
These policies are being described as child allowances, guaranteed incomes, and universal basic incomes—not as welfare—thus dropping some of the racist freight attached to TANF. But they are, in fact, a kind of welfare. Both as a policy and a concept, it is what so many Americans need.
The Story of a Young Black Girl Repeating the Cycle and Then Breaking it
Her story is simple yet deep. A lost Black girl. It is a story of a young girl. A young girl born in the streets. It all started when her mother was a teen, addicted to drugs she was a definite feen. Only a teen, and emersed in a world so mean, the cruelty she experienced only one could dream. From her womb, came the loudest cry it shook the four conners of the project walls and saturated the dilapidated project halls. Sandra was born, to a mother whose love was already worn. Sandra would one day find herself as a black girl lost and forced to survive on the streets at any cost. This is her story and other black girls too. A story of how society cripples the backbone of deprived young black girls just trying to make it through.
Pain starts young
It was either the emptiness of pain or just the churning of hunger pangs. But little Sandra had the motivation to walk the streets of the ghetto. At the ripe age of 8, she was greeted with a lustful hello, from a drunk and grimy fellow. Wall to wall, juke joints and clubs. No nurturing hugs from the mother that she loved. Only protection from the Lord watching her up above.
She was protected that night. Still hungry she did not give up the fight. In she goes to the local corner store, owned by foreigners who didn’t play. They were only interested in whether or not she’d pay. As she roamed the aisles – decorated with liquor and every junk food – you could imagine, little Sandra found herself in her own food heaven. Broke and unsure she snatched a bag of chips and dashed out of the corner store. A young black girl birthed into the streets and starving for something to eat. Her circumstances created a beast that not even prison bars could defeat.
Later at sixteen, she made her money the best way she knew how. “Hey, are you here to score, if not then get the hell from by my door.” Sandra’s voice was pure and deep. The best taught her – how to bag it up and store the rest. It was how she made it through. That was how she paid for food and school. No dreams. She just wants to eat. She often thinks to herself, “well at least I ain’t selling my body.”
Nothing about Sandra was cheap, from the furs she would wear to high priced jewelry. Oh you better believe she was going to eat. She was a young black girl birthed into the streets. Never had nothing – she had to steal to eat. Little Sandra became a big beast and turned her sorrow into money in the streets. She made the biggest dope dealers look weak; she ran the streets and ran from the police.
The True Story of a Young Black Girl Repeating the Cycle and Then Breaking it
See, Sandra’s story is deep because she was born into life that she did not ask for. She also continued the cycle of her mother. At 17, she had a daughter and raised her without a father. And at 15, her daughter had a daughter and raised her without a father. At 18, her daughter had a son and raised him without a father. At 14, her son had a daughter and was killed in a drug deal gone wrong before she was born. His daughter grew up and recognized a cycle, she was bright and recognized she had a say in the fight. She broke generational cycles and lived a remarkable life.
~ It starts with you, break the cycle don’t let the cycle break you.
It’s Time To Send John McDonogh Down The River
We are told that John McDonogh was a great man. He was a moral and kind slave owner to be lauded for being way ahead of his time. Unlike most massas, he didn’t beat the slaves he kept prisoner on his plantation. He was much too compassionate for that. He gave them another incentive to help make him rich instead. John McDonogh, the benevolent man he was, made a deal with his slaves. If they managed to buckle down and work on his plantation for 15 years without dying, he’d actually set them free. And he would send them back to Africa – even if they weren’t from Africa. And best of all, they wouldn’t even have to pay for the boat ride. It would be at John McDonogh’s expense. Just the sort of parting gesture of appreciation for time well served from a benevolent slave owner. Imagine that.
McDonogh’s name is on my high school diploma and generations of others.
Over time, John McDonogh came to own 4 plantations and an estimated 500 slaves. David McDonogh, no relation, was rumored to be one of his favorites. David worked and slaved his way to eventually earning a bachelor’s degree from Lafayette College in 1844. He went on to become the first African American Eyes, Ears, Nose, and Throat specialist in the country. Of course, he could not practice in New Orleans. Refusing to go back to Africa, he moved to New York. David died in New York. Many other African Americans moved from New Orleans to New York. Up north, they realized their potential and their talents were recognized. Today, John McDonogh has his name plastered on schools all across the city, set up via his will to enshrine himself as a charitable local legend. David McDonogh has a scholarship in his name – based in New York.
Justin McCorkle, Director of Community Relations for NOLA Public Schools, wants to finally give David McDonogh the local recognition he feels he deserves. He wants to name the building that houses McDonogh #35 after him. “What better way to bring him back to New Orleans?” McCorkle says.
NOLA Public Schools is in the process of finishing off the name changing initiative that began years ago. With street names also being changed, and statutes being taken down, this is part of a city-wide movement to break away from its confederate past.
I find myself confused though. “So wait, If this happens, when people ask me the famous question “where’d you go to school?”
Should I say David McDonogh High?”
“No,” McCorkle says, “we’re changing the name of the building, not the school.” Count me as one of the people who didn’t know they were not one and the same.
McCorkle says some of #35’s alumni have been fighting the name change, so he felt the need to compromise. It was through trying to appease those alumni that he came up with David McDonogh. “It’s a win-win for everybody,” McCorkle says.
As he sees it, the McDonogh#35 legacy gets to live on while David McDonogh finally gets his due. I wonder what John McDonogh would think of the irony. Basically having his organization work on David McDonogh’s land. Somehow, that seems appropriate. I wonder if the contract can be done in 15 year increments.
McCorkle wants to do more than just remove names. He wants the replacements to have a connection to the city. “This has been a thoughtful and meaningful process as far as the culture of New Orleans,” he says. “This was not done out of emotion.”
NOLA Public Schools is in the process of taking suggestions from the public. Then the next step will be approval by the board. If you have a name in mind be sure and submit one, like PBS Pinchback for example.
As far as John McDonogh, the last time I saw Mr. McDonogh his head was being dragged down Poydras street to the river. There amongst boisterous fanfare, the head was then thrown into the water. As it sank, bubbles pooled to the surface and ripples ensued. People clapped. People cheered. I think somebody blew a trumpet. It was a festive affair. A hundred years ago it would’ve been indistinguishable from a lynching. Eventually, the head was retrieved. The lengths some will go to save his legacy runs deep. Let’s just hope #35’s alumni did not fund the retrieval.
They passed the bill after Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough issued an advisory. She said that the $15 minimum wage increase shouldn’t be included in the American Rescue Act. MacDonough said it didn’t meet budget reconciliation rules.
Even before MacDonough’s ruling, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and the leading advocate for the raising the minimum wage to $15, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that the $7.25 federal minimum wage was “a starvation wage.”
Senate Rules Against the Current Proposal
MacDonough’s decision ended Senate Democrats’ chance to bypass the 60-vote supermajority and Senate Republicans’ opposition, and pass the ARA, inclusive of the wage increase, with a simple majority.
Sanders disagreed with MacDonough’s decision in an official statement. “The CBO made it absolutely clear that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour had a substantial budgetary impact and should be allowed under reconciliation. It is hard for me to understand how drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was considered to be consistent with the Byrd Rule, while increasing the minimum wage is not.”
The parliamentarian’s advice was not unexpected. President Biden had earlier predicted the wage increase wouldn’t survive when his stimulus package reached the Senate.
As the presiding officer of the Senate, Vice-President Kamala Harris could overrule MacDonough. But Ron Klain, Biden’s Chief of Staff, said the White House will respect the parliamentarian’s ruling. WH Press Secretary Jen said Biden was “disappointed” but, “he will work with leaders in Congress to determine the best path forward because no one in this country should work full time and live in poverty,” Psaki told reporters.
Fight for $15 Continues
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer ( D-N.Y.) said, “We are not going to give up the fight to raise the minimum wage to $15 to help millions of struggling American workers and their families,”
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) wants to fire MacDonough. “The Senate parliamentarian issues an advisory opinion,” congresswoman Pramila Jayapal said in a tweet. “The VP can overrule them. We should do EVERYTHING we can to keep our promise, deliver a $15 minimum wage, and give 27 million workers a raise.”
Increasing the minimum wage would give 32 million Americans a raise and lift one million out of poverty, according to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report. The CBO also predicts initial job losses of 1.4 million, initially, but supporters say investing in a green economy, technology, and infrastructure will add more jobs.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), ranking member on the Senate Committee on the Budget said he was : “Very pleased the Senate Parliamentarian has ruled that a minimum wage increase is an inappropriate policy change in reconciliation. This decision reinforces reconciliation cannot be used as a vehicle to pass major legislative change – by either party – on a simple majority vote.”
Yet, that’s how Republican passed Trump’s permanent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Without Democratic votes. And they ran up a $2 Trillion deficit that benefits the wealthiest Americans.
Bernie Sanders Amendment
Sanders will propose an amendment. He will take tax deductions away from large, profitable corporations that don’t pay workers at least $15 an hour. He will provide small businesses with the incentives they need to raise wages. “That amendment must be included in this reconciliation bill,” said Sanders.
Even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi acknowledged some Senate Democrats opposed to the $15 minimum. Senator Joe Manchin i(D-WV) and Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), opposed the minimum wage proposal, but for different reasons. Manchin proposed $11 per hour and Sinema opposed the measure for procedural reasons. She said the increase shouldn’t be a part of the budget reconciliation process because “it’s not a budget item.”
Before the parliamentarian ruled, Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Tom Cotton (R-AK) sponsored a bill, The Higher Wages for Americans Act, to raise the minimum wage to $10 per hour by 2025. The plan also mandates that employees use an E-Verify system to ensure that they are not hiring illegal immigrants.
Interestingly, both legislators’ personal net worth stands in sharp contrast to their proposal for working Americans.
“Mitt Romney’s net worth makes him one of the richest politicians in the United States. During his 2012 Presidential campaign, Romney’s financial disclosure forms estimated his total net worth to be $80 – $255 million; at that time, the value of his IRA account alone was $102 million. His 2018 Senate campaign financial disclosure pegged his fortune at $190 – $250 million,” CelebrityNetWorth.com estimates.
“According to his most recently-released financial disclosure, Cotton estimated his net worth at $500,000. In the years when he has given estimates, his net worth has fluctuated from $250,000 to $500,000,” the report continued. The Celebrity Net Worth reports are based on public records and personal financial disclosure forms.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) tweeted about the proposal. “When members of Congress fight to set the minimum wage below a living wage, they are playing a role in creating and preserving poverty in the United States. The $15/hr. proposal with multi-year phase in is already a deep compromise. $10 an hour is legislated poverty.”
Other Democrats criticized the Republicans’ plan for being lower than the $11 minimum wage in Cotton’s home state.
The Economic Policy Institute estimates that the Democratic plan would give a raise to 32.2 million workers. The Republican proposal would provide a wage hike to just 4.9 million workers. An employee who worked 40 hours a week would earn about $20,800 under the Romney-Cotton plan. The same employee earns about $31,200 under the Democratic plan. Currently, a worker paid the federal minimum would earn just $15,080 under the same circumstances.
“It is unconscionable that we should pay the lowest-wage workers today less than what they earned five decades ago, while the economy’s productivity has more than doubled over the last 50 years,” the economic experts said.
““No one who works fulltime in America should live in poverty. The #FightFor15 is a fight for women, for working families, and for a growing economy that benefits everyone. That’s *our* fight! Probably 70% of women of color earn the minimum wage,” Pelosi said in a video posted to her twitter account.
Costco’s CEO Craig Jelinek responded to the concerns of opponents of raising the minimum wage. They say that the increase would lead to small business closures.
“I can tell you in my past experience that wages usually don’t put people out of business. How you run your business will put you out of business.” Jelinek recently announced a $16 per hour increase for Costco employees.
We can no longer afford to sing Negro Spirituals
Black History month is over. Let’s reflect on the struggles that African Americans have endured through the ages. One common practice must end. We can no longer just sing Negro spirituals.
In the 50’s and 60’s, African Americans marched for equality in cities across America. They often sang the gospel hymn, “We shall overcome.” That familiar hymn resonated with the struggles of the African American communities. As natural born citizens of this United States, they attempted to obtain the equality promised by the 14th amendment.
Hymns, like “We shall overcome,” served the purpose of giving hope to the hopeless. Someday Black people in America would in fact experience the freedoms promised by the Constitution.
These freedoms are elusive for African Americans. Since the dissolution of slavery in 1865, Black people have been subject to Jim Crow during reconstruction, segregation during the civil rights movement, and now institutionalized racism in the aftermath of affirmative action. Although the hymn states that we shall overcome it also suggests “someday”. But when is someday?
Is someday today? Is someday tomorrow, or is it simply someday?
For far too long we have waited on someday. But with diminishing hopes that with each passing day, someday would become today.
The 1963 March on Washington reminded us of the dangers associated in seeking equality and justice. Later we mourned the assignations of Martin Luther King, Malcom X, Medgar Evers, John F Kennedy and many more. We expected their deaths to serve as a wakeup call. Their murders should have awakened a sense of consciousness and morality in America. Instead these tragic events only postponed the “someday” reality.
It took another fifty years before we celebrated the election of the first Black President. Then Black folks thought for sure that finally “someday” had arrived.
However then we witnessed the senseless deaths of Eric Gardner , Michael Brown, and George Floyd. And we realized then that someday had suffered another postponement. In fact someday is so far delayed that someday may never come at all.
But just when we thought all hope was lost, Black folk helped to turn a red state blue. We had renewed our faith that maybe someday is in fact possible. However, the blowback was swift and strong.
Overt racism stormed the Capitol desecrating the hallowed halls of American Democracy, rendering another debilitating blow to someday.
Unfortunately for Black people in America we have become acclimated with the delivery of “someday” justice and democracy.
While we once hoped for someday, too many have unfortunately accepted that someday is every day. Yet other African Americans decided that we are no longer going to sing Negro spirituals. Awareness of truth without an actionable truth is simply not enough.
Our someday dream will only become a reality when we realize the power of today – the present.
As of this day we must say to America that we too are an intricate part committed to working together to insure that today is the last day that we allow someday to stand in the way of achieving racial equality and justice everywhere.
Research explores whether cursing might be a sign of greater honesty.
People who reported cursing more often scored higher on measures of honesty.
Individuals who used more profanity in their Facebook posts were also more likely to use phrasing that correlates more strongly to honesty.
Facebook users who used more profanity in posts were more likely to live in states whose residents ranked higher on measures of honesty.
Think about the really honest people in your life, maybe a spouse or co-worker or best friend. Do they tend to swear a lot? Or flip it around: Are the people who you view as the most dishonest – the most likely to lie, cheat, or steal – also the ones who tend to have a fairly clean mouth?
More generally, would you expect cursing to be associated with higher or lower honesty? We can imagine arguments on both sides. On the one hand, we might think that as cursing goes up, a person’s honesty goes down. After all, profanity sometimes goes against societal standards for good behavior. So does dishonesty. Profanity can be used to harm others. So can dishonesty. Profanity can be a sign of lack of self-control. Same with dishonesty. Profanity can indicate a shady or untrustworthy character. Dishonesty, naturally enough, undermines trust.
But hold on a minute. We can also make a strong case that cursing and honesty go hand in hand, at least much of the time. The person who says ‘sh*t’ when dropping a tool on her foot, or spilling the coffee all over her computer, is being transparent about her feelings. She is expressing, in an emotionally charged way, what she is feeling in the moment. To outwardly pretend as if everything were alright, while internally being very upset, is to intentionally distort the facts. That’s a way of failing to be honest. In addition, cursing has been linked to increased vocabulary, stress relief, and pain tolerance.
So which is it? Is honesty linked with profanity or not? It would be nice if we had some empirical data — and now, for the first time, we do.
In the first set of studies to ever test the relationship, Gilad Feldman at Maastricht University and his colleagues found a positive correlation between profanity and honesty. The three studies were published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
In the first study, 276 participants just answered a series of questions. Some were about profanity, such as “How often do you curse (swear/use bad language)” in different contexts, such as to another person, when by yourself, or in your writing. Some questions were about honesty, such as, “If you say you will do something, do you always keep your promise no matter how inconvenient it might be?” The results: Participants who said they cursed more often got higher scores on the measure of honesty.
I am not inclined to put a lot of weight on surveys like this, especially when it comes to matters of lying and deceiving. Fortunately, Feldman and his colleagues used some other techniques as well. In their second study, they enlisted the help of Facebook — specifically, the status updates of 73,789 users who agreed to be participants. There was no way for Feldman to independently verify the status updates, but instead he used a clever indirect measure. For it turns out that when people lie, there are certain linguistic tendencies which emerge, including using fewer first-person pronouns (to “dissociate themselves from the lie”) and more negative words (since they “are likely to feel discomfort by lying and therefore express more negative feelings”). These linguistic tendencies are by no means a perfect tool to discover lying, but they have been found to help.
Back to Facebook.
The same status updates for these participants were also scanned for common swear words. It turned out, according to Feldman, that “those who used more profanity were more honest in their Facebook status updates.”
Finally, the third study shifted the focus from the individual to the societal level, specifically the 50 states in the US. There is a state-by-state measure of honesty called the State Integrity Investigation. So Feldman took the profanity data for the American Facebook users (29,701 participants) and determined which state each was from. It turned out that on average people who cursed more on Facebook tended to be from states which ranked higher for honesty. Connecticut and New Jersey were in the top three on profanity. (Is that surprising?) They were almost among the top three most honest states. (Is that surprising?)
Speak TruthSource: Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash
So it turns out, based on these preliminary findings at least, swearing is a sign of greater honesty. In fact, Feldman in his first study asked participants about their reasons for using profanity. Two of the main reasons were to express their emotions and to express their true selves.
Some caveats should be mentioned: These are just preliminary studies, and we need to see many other measures of honesty used. They are correlational, so we can’t say anything about causation. Also these studies just found general tendencies. There will still be plenty of people who swear a lot and are dishonest, along with those who swear very little and are honest.
Nevertheless, for now profanity seems to be associated with greater honesty, rather than dishonesty. I guess knowing that is some small comfort the next time I walk barefoot on a bunch of sharp Legos. I just hope my kids won’t be around to hear me.
We can tell within the first minute of meeting you
So yes, within 60 seconds of meeting you, most black people can tell whether you are racist or not. Here are some of the telltale signs:
The way you look at us. Some white people are just plain scared when they meet a black person. Guess what, it shows. We can see it on your faces, we can feel it from a mile off. You see, nonverbal cues — the subconscious involuntary signals that your body sends out is about 80 percent of the message you emit. It talks to the person in front of you before you even open your mouth.
Some white people have an unconscious deep-seated fear of black people that they themselves try to ignore. But it shows up in their nonverbal, and it’s the first thing we notice when we meet you. Sometimes white folks subconsciously even do things that show us that fear. An example is the older white lady who clutches her bag tighter when she sees me approaching her or the person who hurriedly shuts the door to the elevator to avoid riding with me. Sometimes white people don’t even realize they are doing these things, other times they think we might not notice, but we do.
Another way we know that you are racist is when you say the words:
“You’re different from other black people, you’re articulate, you’re educated, you look more western…”
These telltale comments tell us all we need to know about you — namely that you are racist. I never understand why white people think it is ok to say this. Are you trying to make me a black woman feel better, by telling me that I’m great but the rest of the black people in the world aren’t? It’s just like the stupidest thing anyone can say. And the actual message you’re conveying in saying what you think is a compliment is this:
“You’re the only black person I’m not racist with”.
It might surprise you, but this is really what you are saying and that’s the way I and many other black people understand it.
Another sign that you’re racist is when you constantly use stereotypes and generalizations to categorize black people. Don’t say stuff like:
“All black people are good singers”.
That is absolute rubbish and you should know that — at least I hope you do. Judging people based on stereotypes is just plain lazy. Human beings are the most intelligent creatures on earth. Get to know people instead of packing them into a category. Not all black people are good singers, not all black people run fast, not all black people know how to dance (I don’t). Avoid using stereotypes and generalizations.
If you believe positive stereotypes i.e all black people are great singers, then you’ll also believe negative stereotypes i.e all black people are thugs. And that’s what led to a knee on a man’s neck and the tragic racist consequences that ensued. Make an effort to educate yourself, to learn about individuals and cultures that you don’t know. Don’t put people into boxes because it’s convenient or easier. Get to know the other — please.
Another way that we know that you’re racist is when you tense up and get all defensive about racism, Black Lives Matter, white privilege, white fragility, and what have you.
We can immediately feel the tension. You vehemently attack us whether it is by way of trolling us on the comments section or bullying us in real life.
The way you behave shows us that you have something to hide or some form of guilt nagging at you. If you weren’t a racist, you wouldn’t feel attacked — do you get what I mean? There is no smoke without fire, and you’re only vigorously defending yourself because you did something racist along the line or you’ve entertained racist thinking or actions at some point or another.
My personal favorite is when a white person says:
“I’m not racist, you’re my friend. Or, I’m not racist, my wife is black or I like rap or I go to Africa all the time”.
There is something so wrong with either of these statements. Why do white people feel the need to say these things? You’re actually telling me you are racist when you say these things. Because it means, you’ve gone out of the way to justify what you think is your nonracism. Because you have a doubt in your mind — no matter how small it may be, you’ve asked yourself the question about whether you’re racist or not and you’ve used token examples to reassure yourself that you are not.
It’s like corporations who reassure themselves that they aren’t racist because they’ve hired 1–2 black or brown people in senior management positions while other black people in the organization face racial microaggressions on a daily basis. My lay woman’s view would be that that organization is indeed racist, trying to dissimulate that reality under a performative veneer of tokenism.
So yes, these are just some of the ways we can tell you’re racist, and no, you haven’t been able to hide it from us. We see and we smell it, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t change. You’re may be racist now given the circumstance of your birth or the way you were raised. But the reality is simple, no one is born racist, so there is always time to change, to transform yourself.
You can choose to become nonracist and even better, antiracist, it is all a matter of choice. Educate yourself — go out and find the information. Understand that racism is a social construct built on a bedrock of lies and white supremacy to advance the economic and political ambitions of a privileged few.
Realize that we are all human beings, that we are all equal, that we are all in the pursuit of happiness. Know and believe with all your heart that while we all inhabit different hues, in essence, we are all the same, and that there is no place for racism here on earth.
Thanks for reading my perspective.
SENATE REPUBLICANS & TWO DEMOCRATS MAY KILL THE $15 MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE
After eight years protests by low wage workers and unions, Congress will decide on the fight to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) sponsored the Raise the Wage Act in 2019. The Democrats passed it in the House. The Senate did just the opposite. The Republican-majority in the Senate tabled Senator Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vermont) companion bill in committee.
This time around, the Raise the Wage Act of 2021 is a part of President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
The Raise the Wage Act of 2021 would gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15 over five years. Congress hasn’t increased the federal minimum wage in more than a decade. That’s the longest stretch since it was first established in 1938. It was raised under the Obama Administration to $7.25 per hour in 2009, and there it remains.
“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the $7.25 federal minimum wage was economically and morally indefensible. Now, the pandemic highlights the gross imbalance between the productivity of our nation’s workers and the wages they earn. Many of the essential workers have braved a public health crisis. They need to keep food on the table and care for our loved ones. Still they are not paid enough. They can not provide for themselves or their families. Today, a full-time worker cannot afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment in any county in the U.S.,” said Rep. Scott, the Act’s sponsor and Chair of the House Committee on Education and Labor.
“Around the country, Americans across the political spectrum have repeatedly supported raising the minimum wage The Raise the Wage Act is a critical step toward lifting hardworking people out of poverty, addressing income inequality, and building back a better economy where everyone can succeed,” Scott added in a Committee release.
Raising the minimum wage would give 32 million Americans wage increases. Also one million would be lifted out of poverty, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report. The CBO also predicts job losses, initially, but investing in a green economy will add more jobs. Also, recent polls show 75% of Americans support raising the minimum wage.
Dems have the majority
The Democrats have a narrow majority in the House and 50 percent of the Senate. A yes vote by Vice President Kamala Harris could see passage of Biden’s rescue plan. But two Democrats are on record joining Republicans opposing it on procedural grounds.
Biden doesn’t think the wage increase will pass. He told CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell that Senate rules would prevent the increase from going forward. “My guess is it will not be in it,” he said. “I don’t think it is going to survive.”
Republicans intend to block the minimum wage increase. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise urged Republicans in an email to vote “no” on what his office called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “Payoff to Progressives Act.” According to news reports, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, introduced a nonbinding amendment that excludes a wage increase from the stimulus package.
“We need to end the crisis of starvation wages,” Senator Sanders recently told The New York Times. What most Democrats are not saying, though, is that the Act will not pass in the Senate if just one Democrat votes against it. Senator Joe Manchin, III (D-WV) is on record opposing the proposed wage increase. He told news reporters he prefers an $11 per hour wage hike.
Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), is the first democrat to win a U.S. Senate race in Arizona in 30 years. She opposes including the wage hike in the Biden’s COVID stimulus plan. The freshman senator told Politico, “The minimum wage provision is not appropriate for the reconciliation process. It is not a budget item. And it shouldn’t be in there.”
Manchin and Sinema are “conservative democrats.” They have often sided with Republican and opposed their own party. According to Five Thirty Eight, Manchin has voted in line with Trump 60.7% percent of the time and Sinema, 62.6%.
They both seem to oppose their fellow Democrats’ position when the vote is crucial, like the wage increase vote. However, they may get primaried when they are up for reelection in 2024. The No Excuses PAC, which helped Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez to win, is starting a search for candidates to challenge incumbent Democrats they say are standing in the way of ambitious action to end the coronavirus pandemic and revive the economy.
U.S. senators and representatives make a minimum of $174,000 annually.
Why are some opposed to a $15 per hour minimum wage hike? Americans earning $7.25 per hour or $14,500 per year can barely make ends meet. Increasing the minimum wage $15 per hour, would equal an annual income of $31,200. That is still not enough income to comfortably afford to buy a house. However, it may be enough for an individual to save some money for emergencies.
The current minimum wage is as outdated as the 2020 Federal Poverty Level. Neither adjusts for inflation or the rising cost of basic needs.
The Federal Poverty Level (FPL) is a measurement of the minimum amount of annual income that is needed for individuals and families to pay for essentials, such as room and board, clothes, and transportation. According to FPL guidelines, an individual with an annual income of $12,760 is at 100% of the Federal Poverty Level. For two, it’s $17,240, for a family of three, $21,720, and family of four $26,200.
Looking at the numbers, how reasonable is it to think people can pay for essentials such as rent, clothes and transportation, let alone food? These measurements determine if an individual is eligible for federal benefits such as SNAP, SSI, and Disability Income.
“Those who oppose raising the minimum wage will highlight its costs, both in terms of impact on the federal budget and potential job losses,” Rev. Dr. William Barber, II wrote in a February 21, Op-Ed published by Time Magazine.
Trillions of Dollars While We Fight for $15
“Trillions of stimulus dollars have further enriched corporations, many of which do not pay their workers a living wage. Putting more money in the hands of poor and low-income people would increase spending and stimulate the economy far more than investments used to shore up corporate profits. And any jobs lost in the market due to corporate cutbacks could be offset by other commitments to green jobs, infrastructure development and a federal jobs guarantee. Now is the time to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.”
This year, 25 states are raising their minimum wage. Louisiana has no state minimum wage and uses the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Tipped employees in Louisiana earn $2.13 per hour and depend on tips to make a viable living.
No matter what happens in Congress, the Fight for $15 will continue. The protesters are focusing on raising minimum pay for fast-food workers, home health aides, childcare teachers, airport workers, adjunct professors, sanitation workers, tipped workers and retail employees. Today, the protests are in more than 300 cities and 40 countries.