Weekend Reading

Weekend reading is back with a vengeance:

The BLS monthly report doesn’t say which jobs come with dignity and fair pay and which are degrading, but no matter how you measure it, a wedge has been growing for decades between worker output and compensation. A 2012 report from the Economic Policy Institute describes the situation in clear terms: “This divergence of pay and productivity has meant that many workers are not benefiting from productivity growth — the economy can afford higher pay but is not providing it.” Increases in employment and productivity — America’s two dearest metrics — provide only the possibility of shared higher living standards; they do not and have not guaranteed them. Economists keep muddling through their data tea leaves, but who needs them when the writing is on the wall?

The mayoral and council class of 2013 is one of the most progressive cohorts of elected officials in recent American history. In one major city after another, newly elected officials are planning to raise the minimum wage or enact ordinances boosting wages in developments that have received city assistance. They are drafting legislation to require inner-city hiring on major projects and foster unionization in hotels, stores, and trucking. They are seeking the funds to establish universal pre-K and other programs for infants and toddlers. They are sketching the layout of new transit lines that will bring jobs and denser development to neighborhoods both poor and middle-class and reduce traffic and pollution in the bargain. They are—if they haven’t done so already—forbidding their police from cooperating with federal immigration authorities in the deportation of undocumented immigrants not convicted of felonies and requiring their police to have video or audio records of their encounters with the public. They are, in short, enacting at the municipal level many of the major policy changes that progressives have found themselves unable to enact at the federal and state levels. They also may be charting a new course for American liberalism.

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