90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Poverty Wages In America

Solving America’s low wage conundrum. Looking for a way up and out of the poverty wage trap. Plus

Colorado Walmart employees and supporters join nationwide protests, in front of a Walmart store in Lakewood, Colo., Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, for Walmart to publicly commit to improving labor standards. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is the nation's biggest shopping day of the year. (AP)

Colorado Walmart employees and supporters join nationwide protests, in front of a Walmart store in Lakewood, Colo., Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, for Walmart to publicly commit to improving labor standards. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is the nation’s biggest shopping day of the year. (AP)

Low-wage America is a big country, and it’s not an easy place to live.  The nation’s grown a lot richer over the decades, but retail wages have fallen by almost a third. America’s minimum wage, as a percent of average pay, is now the lowest of any OECD country but Mexico.  We all know the stories of McDonalds and WalMart workers on food stamps.  It can make you feel guilty just buying a burger.  But what to do about it?  There’s a new push on to raise the minimum wage, even if just locally.  And then what? This hour On Point:  America’s low wage crisis, and what to do about it.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Reid Wilson, senior political policy blogger for The Washington Post. (@PostReid)

Jason Fichtner, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. (@JJFichtner)

David Cooper, economic analyst at the Economic Policy Institute. (@metaCoop)

Tiffany Beroid, 29-year-old married mother of two who works at a Wal-Mart in Laurel, MD.

From Tom’s Reading List

Washington Post: Push for minimum wage hike led by localities, Democrats — ‘Efforts in Congress to raise the national minimum wage above $7.25 an hour have stalled. But numerous local governments — including those of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, and the District — are forging ahead, in some cases voting to dramatically increase the pay of low-wage workers. The efforts, while supported by many unions, threaten to create a patchwork of wage rates that could mean workers in some areas will be entitled to vastly less than those working similar jobs nearby. The campaigns reach from coast to coast.’

Bloomberg Businessweek: What a Higher Minimum Wage Does for Workers and the Economy – “Raising the minimum wage is neither as wonderful as its advocates claim nor as dangerous as its detractors warn. On the upside, it would increase pay for millions of Americans, not only those earning the minimum but also those at fixed increments above it. These are people who could really use a raise. Contrary to what generations of students were taught in freshman econ, new research finds that minimum-wage increases at the state level have caused little, if any, harm to employment. ‘Outside of the simple Econ 101-type environment, increasing workers’ pay can improve the functioning of the low-wage labor market,’ Arindrajit Dube, a University of Massachusetts economist, testified before Congress in March.”

America: Francis’ Multi-faceted Reflection — “As has been amply reported and commented upon, Francis sees the need for a more diverse and less centralized and clericalized Church. He dreams of a poor Church living a fundamental option for the poor. He also critiques an economic system in which profit prevails over persons, violating their dignity and legitimate aspirations. Pope Francis has derived important elements of this pastoral vision from the writings of his predecessors mentioned above, upon which he gratefully and extensively draws. However, the powerful and personal synthesis and program is unmistakably his own.”

Pope Francis’ Anti-Capitalist Creedo

Eric LymanRome-based freelance writer who covers the Vatican for USA Today and the Religion News Service. (@EricJLyman)

The Washington Post: Pope Francis lays out a blueprint for his papacy in ‘Evangelii Gaudium’ — “Francis blasted the ‘idolatry of money’ in the world financial system, which he called ‘an economy of exclusion and inequality.’ He also called on the church itself to work from the trenches: ‘I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting, and dirty because it has been out on the streets rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confirmed and from clinging to its own security.'”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Nov 21, 2014
President Barack Obama announces executive actions on immigration during a nationally televised address from the White House in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014.  (AP)

The president throws down the gauntlet on immigration. Bloodshed and new tensions in Israel. Keystone fails. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Nov 21, 2014
Laura Ingalls Wilder, an American  writer and novelist, at age 27. Her "Little House" series is a beloved semi-autobiographical take on her childhood in the Western American plains. (South Dakota State Historical Society )

A big new look at the legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the woman behind the Little House.

RECENT
SHOWS
Nov 20, 2014
A shot from the AMC reality series, "Freakshow." (Jessica Brooks / AMC)

From TV to Broadway, circus sideshows — freak shows — are having a big cultural moment. What’s the history behind the comeback?

 
Nov 20, 2014
In this file photo, Hillsborough Sheriff deputy patrols outside the gate of JP Morgan Chase annual stockholders meeting held Tuesday, May 15, 2012, in Tampa, Fla. JP Morgan is one of several large financial institutions currently under investigation for alleged violation of Federal bankruptcy laws. (AP)

You’re supposed to have a clean slate after bankruptcy. But that’s not always true. We’ll ask what’s going on.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
The Explicast, Episode Five: What Is Net Neutrality?
Friday, Nov 14, 2014

The Explicast dives into tech policy territory with a quick look at the real meaning of a complicated bit of tech policy known as ‘Net Neutrality.’

More »
2 Comments
 
Our Week In The Web: November 14, 2014
Friday, Nov 14, 2014

On why we tweet, what we like and a Miley Cyrus and “Serial” theme song mashup you never knew you needed.

More »
Comment
 
Guest Post: U.S.-China Climate Deal is an Important Step In Long Road Ahead
Wednesday, Nov 12, 2014

After a landmark agreement between the US and China on climate change policy and clean energy development, a recent On Point guest reflects on what’s important in this new deal.

More »
Comment