The US’s miserly welfare state is known for forcing people to work rather than shielding them from the most exploitative jobs. And in Iowa, GOP lawmakers are taking the Dickensian cruelty further: they’re considering loosening restrictions on child labor.
Colin Gordon is a professor of history at the University of Iowa and the author, most recently, of Citizen Brown: Race, Democracy, and Inequality in the St. Louis Suburbs.
The promise of US federalism is that states will be “laboratories of democracy,” more responsive and more innovative than the federal government. The reality is that states are more often laboratories of authoritarianism, dominated by the rich and powerful.
The rise of neoliberalism wasn’t simply about centrist and right-wing politicians deciding to unleash market forces. It reflected a genuine crisis of the postwar economic order — and the absence of a powerful working-class movement to push a left alternative.
Amazon’s very business model is based on ruthless exploitation of workers and methodical plunder of public goods — fueling massive inequality between the places it enriches and those it leaves behind.
Big Ag had a field day last year at the federal trough, gulping down more subsidies than ever before. We can do much better — promoting sustainable farming while empowering farmworkers and challenging the power of Big Ag.
A new lawsuit charges that bosses at an Iowa meatpacking plant set up a game to bet on how many workers there would contract COVID. The tyranny and cruelty of the American workplace knows no bounds.
Even with Trump’s defeat, state and local government are facing brutal cuts to vital public services like education and health care. We can’t let the Biden years be four more years of austerity.
Bernie Sanders is reportedly making a bid to be the secretary of labor in a potential Biden administration. That’s good news. The labor secretary has broad latitude to raise worker standards — and Bernie could use the bully pulpit to declare that all workers will have the full backing of the federal government if they organize on the job.
Canada isn’t the beacon of social democracy that many progressive Americans imagine. But when faced with the coronavirus crisis, the US’s inept political class and for-profit health system couldn’t even match a country with a moderate welfare state and functional government.
The Coronavirus Wouldn’t Be Decimating Meatpacking Plants If Company Bosses Hadn’t Busted the Unions
COVID-19 is ravaging the country’s meatpacking plants, turning packinghouse workers into sacrificial lambs. But none of this was inevitable — it’s the result of companies’ decades-long assault on meatpacking unions, which destroyed workers’ ability to have a say over their working conditions.
In states like Iowa, right-wing governors have used the coronavirus pandemic to continue their assault on workers — forcing thousands to go back to work prematurely and promising to pull unemployment benefits for anyone who has the temerity to put their health first.
Mitch McConnell’s suggestion that states should go bankrupt instead of asking for federal assistance was the bloviating of an austerity-minded reactionary. What we need instead is a universal welfare state that refuses to let workers in any state suffer the vagaries of the market.
A decent welfare state should provide the basics of life so everyone can flourish. The United States’ patchwork of poorly funded safety net programs is doing the opposite — dropping people through a trapdoor as the pandemic ravages the economy.
The coronavirus pandemic affects everyone, but it doesn’t affect everyone equally. Working-class neighborhoods have it much harder than wealthy enclaves — and that’s unconscionable.
Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses are just around the corner. But all the state fair photo ops and cornfield rallies in the world can’t obscure a basic fact: the state’s workers are getting shafted.
The riddle of the New Deal’s attitude toward segregation can only be unraveled by examining the fundamental nature of the capitalist state.
Seventy years ago, the Taft-Hartley Act ushered in “right-to-work” laws and imposed draconian restrictions on workers’ rights. The labor movement still hasn’t recovered.
In order to win universal health care, we have to understand what — and who — we’re up against.
You can’t understand the modern right without understanding their fundamental contempt for democracy.
How regional inequities and a local fiscal crisis conspired to kill Michael Brown two years ago today.