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Living on $7.25: A Challenge for Us All

Last Thursday, July 24th, marked 5 years since the federal minimum wage was last increased, to $7.25 an hour.

It has been stuck there ever since.

To highlight just how difficult it is to live on $7.25 – around $15,000 a year for a full-time worker – a host of advocacy groups including Mom’s Rising and the National Employment Law Project (where I work) has issued a challenge: try it.  

We call it the Live the Wage Challenge, and since last Thursday elected officials, advocates, faith leaders, and everyday people around the country have been doing just that: trying to live on $77 a week, the typical budget of a minimum wage worker after housing and taxes. 

That’s $77 to spend on food, transportation, household necessities, health care, entertainment, and everything else.

My most eye-opening moment as a participant in the Challenge occurred last Friday. 

Are Texas Jails Safe for Pregnant Women? (Updated)

What’s going on in Texas? Jails in the state are endangering pregnant women and their fetuses, despite the state’s professed interest in “unborn babies.”

In May, a woman named Nicole Guerrero filed a lawsuit against the Wichita County Jail for ignoring her when she was in labor. Locked alone in a cell, Nicole gave birth on a mat on the floor to a premature baby who died.

In July, a woman named Jessica De Samito in the Guadalupe County Jail worried she might face a similar fate. Jail officials were noncommittal about giving Jessica the methadone she needs to keep from going into sudden withdrawal - a physically draining process that can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth.

Celebrating Seasonality and Strengthening Culture

 

In his engrossing new book, The Third Plate, Dan Barber observes that our present food system is disconnected:

It operates in silos: vegetables here, animals there, grains somewhere else – each component part separate from the others and unhitched to any kind of culture.

This disconnection has resulted in vast monocultures in agriculture that create a litany of complex, sobering, and by now familiar problems. Should you need a quick refresher, industrial monocultures rely on fossil fuels, encourage animal cruelty, endanger pollinator health, deplete soil fertility, and are susceptible to crop failure in the face of an increasingly unstable climate.

Poised for progress on pesticides

Well, it's about time. The invisible problem of pesticide drift is on the policy radar in ways it's never been before — with changes in the wings that could protect kids and communities in very real ways.

From California to the Midwest to our nation's capital, drift is now a focus of public concern and policy conversation. And as the science linking pesticide exposure to children's health harms continues to stack up, pressure to protect kids from pesticide drift is growing stronger as well.

Here's the deal: In response to legal action by Pesticide Action Network and our partners — based in part on our on-the-ground data from community Drift Catchers — EPA is now taking a closer look at how pesticide drift can put children in farm communities at risk. They're assessing both "spray drift" and "volatilization drift," and are considering changes in how they assess drift-prone chemicals.

Even Republicans like their ACA plans!

Even Republicans like their Affordable Care Act plans!

A recent poll by The Commonwealth Fund showed that overall, 78% of Americans who signed up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act are satisfied with their coverage. Even 74% of the Republicans who signed up say they are satisfied with their new plans!

The Affordable Care Act is working.

Nationwide, the rate of uninsured Americans is dropping at a record pace. The reason is clear - new coverage options under the Affordable Care Act have made health coverage affordable and accessible to millions of adults and children.

It is important for us to get the word out that the vast majority of people who got coverage under Obamacare are satisfied! Why? Because the naysayers are still hard at work trying to undermine the new law instead of working together with supporters to continue improving access to healthcare.

NFL is letting a player off the hook for assaulting his wife. Can you take a second to sign and share this petition?

People are outraged over the news that the NFL is letting a player off the hook for assaulting his wife. Can you take a second to sign and share this petition?

Tell NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell: Domestic violence is a serious crime, and abusers have no place in your league. Change your policies so that violent offenders like Ray Rice receive suspensions that reflect the severity of the crime. 

In February, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punched his then-fiancee, knocking her out cold. Video caught him dragging her unconscious body out of an elevator at a casino hotel.

On July 24th the National Football League (NFL) announced an appallingly short suspension for violating its personal conduct policy: Ray Rice will miss just two games.

Sign now: Congress→ Raise the minimum wage

$15,080 per year.

That’s what moms like Ethel from Maryland, and millions of women, are making working full-time earning the federal minimum wage.

This hurts families. This hurts our economy. This hurts us all.

*Tell Congress to Raise the Wage now: http://action.momsrising.org/sign/momsraisethewage/

A seldom-discussed fact is that women make three-quarters of purchasing decisions in our consumer-fueled economy, and when people don’t have funds to spend, then our whole economy suffers.

It turns out that raising the federal minimum wage also raises our economy.  And, it’s time to do just that! 

But it’s going to take all of us raising our voice, signing onto letters, and sharing our stories to raise the wage.  So after you sign on, then please post the action link on Facebook and Twitter.

Dear Sears and Walmart: About Your Breastfeeding Faux Pas, A New Pilot Project Could Save You (And Other Businesses) Millions

We all watched with shaking heads this week as a Sears security employee posted screen shots of breastfeeding mothers that he captured from Sears security cameras.  The twitterverse unleashed its fury, citing the obvious concern about violating the privacy of these unsuspecting mothers and the obvious stupidity of an employee who should know better.

The fact is, when to comes to breastfeeding in public, employees of many retailers often get their companies in big trouble, with let’s say, not-well-thought-out moves.  Last week, a woman who claimed she was treated rudely at a Walmart in Greenville, North Carolina received national media attention.  Victoria’s Secret also recently came under media fire when an employee asked a breastfeeding mother (who was likely sitting under a busty model poster) to leave the store.  These incidents cost companies millions in media damage control and unquantifiable costs in reputational damage—especially among such an important demographic as mothers—who are proven to be the primary decision makers for consumer purchases, and who clearly spend a lot of time in retail stores.

Dear Sears and Walmart, About Your Breastfeeding Faux Pas, A New Pilot Project Could Save You (And Others) Millions

We all watched with shaking heads this week as a Sears security employee posted screen shots of breastfeeding mothers that he captured from Sears security footage on Twitter.  The twitterverse unleashed its fury, citing the obvious concern about violating the privacy of these unsuspecting mothers and the obvious stupidity of an employee who should know better. The employee was fired. 

Tell Congress: Continue funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program

Take Action!

It’s always nice when an investment pays off!

And that’s the case when it comes to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). It was passed in 1997 with bipartisan support from Republicans and Democrats and, along with the Medicaid program, has helped cut the number of uninsured kids by half, from 14% down to 7%.

This is a big deal. Kids who have health insurance are less likely to get sick and more likely to get preventative care (including immunizations and dental care) to keep them well. It also ensures they get the treatment they need when they do get sick, injured, or have a recurring illnesses.

CHIP works. And CHIP has earned the support of 83% of Americans, because it works. But funding for the program is set to run out next year if Congress doesn’t act soon.

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