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If budget-cutters in Washington decided to eliminate food-stamp benefits to New Yorkers, the city’s politicians would be denouncing the cruelty of the “Republican war on the poor.” Yet Mayor Bill De Blasio and the city council are already inflicting the same sort of pain on low-income New Yorkers by denying them access to one of the nation’s most effective anti-poverty programs: Walmart.
In recent decades, Walmart has come to represent the epitome of capitalist success: The company’s founder, Sam Walton of Oklahoma, was a self-made billionaire and a retail pioneer who built his business on rock-bottom prices.
But for many of Walmart’s workers, the company illuminates the darker side of capitalism: The company does nearly $500 billion in worldwide sales each year, but its low prices are made possible by cheap, overseas production and hourly workers’ paltry pay. Walmart is the largest private employer in the U.S.
With $485.9 billion in global revenue and 1.5 million employees in the U.S. alone, Walmart the corporation isn’t going away anytime soon. But this Thursday evening, I’ll argue that its business model – based on low pay, understaffing, and low respect for the employees that make the business function – deserves to go the way of the dinosaurs.
Should all Americans be given a guaranteed basic income, just enough money that any person could scrape by on their monthly check from the government? New York City’s Upper West Side gave the idea a very firm no vote last week.
“The universal basic income is supported across the political ideologies because it’s a fix—efficient and flexible and humane—and can end poverty once and for all,” former union chief Andy Stern said of the idea, but his case fell largely on deaf ears in the end.
Is a guaranteed paycheck from the government, with no strings attached, the answer to the relentless rise of automation?
The concept might sound far-fetched, but a so-called universal basic income (UBI), is currently one of the most hotly debated policy topics being floated as a means to address income inequality and the disruption that technology poses to the workforce. UBI is being tested in Finland and other international markets, but has received decidedly mixed reactions.
In 1988, Al Shanker, then president of the American Federation of Teachers, gave a speech that had been inspired by a visit to Germany where he visited a school run by teachers, who were free to experiment with new ideas and stayed with their classes for six years. Shanker talked about his vision of “charter” schools, which used public money to experiment with fresh ideas that could be transferred to public schools and improve education for all. What an opportunity! To establish innovative schools from scratch with enough money to get the job done!
Four experts faced off in a live debate Wednesday night on a range of issues that swirl around charter schools—whether for-profit schools work, what's best for student achievement, and if charters lead to innovation.
But the discussion came down to a simple question: Are charter schools overrated? And the audience's answer was "yes."