Commentary

Farmworkers 2If you missed it this morning, be sure to take a few minutes to read this morning’s lead story over on the main Policy Watch site: “Twenty-first Century children, Nineteenth Century laws.” The article features a powerful interview with a young woman who describes the pain and hardship she endured for years as a child laborer in 21st Century America — something that, as remarkable as it may seem, remains perfectly legal more than a century after our country supposedly addressed it. Here is an excerpt:

Q. When and why did you start working? Was it your choice?

A. At the age of 8 years old I started working in cotton fields in Arkansas. When I was12-years old I started working in blueberry fields in Michigan, as well as working in the processing plant and various nurseries. I come from a family of migrant farmworkers; we were all expected to work at some point. I am not entirely sure why I started at a much younger age. But growing up I learned that we worked to help pay for bills, school clothes and supplies and also to learn a lesson. Both my parents met in the fields, they both knew how hard the life of a migrant farmworker was and didn’t want for that life to be their children’s. They made us work to show us exactly what was out there without a proper education and to motivate us to stay in school.

Q. What was your typical job and what would be a typical workday? Read More

Commentary

FrackingThe folks in the right-wing think tanks seem to be getting less and less circumspect when it comes to blatantly repackaging the  propaganda and poll-tested talking points of polluters and other corporate scofflaws as “research.” Take for instance the report distributed by the Locke Foundation this morning in a press release headlined:  “Fracking fluid consists almost entirely of water, sand.” The “key facts” from the report makes the whole fracking process sound about as dangerous as a school custodian hosing down the driveway next to the cafeteria dumpster. Consider the following claims:

-Chemicals used in fracking are about 99 percent water and sand.
-The rest is a blend of chemical additives used to condition the water, prevent well casing corrosion, control the fluid pH levels, kill bacteria, etc.
-Most of the chemicals used for fracking are also found in typical household products, including soaps, makeup, and other personal care products. That means they are chemicals people already willingly encounter daily and safely.
-They are also used in consumer products for homes, pets, and yards.

In other words, “Chill out people; what’s all the hubbub about?”

Well, here are just a few things: Not to nitpick, but most of the fluid surrounding the Fukushima nuclear facility is probably water and sand too. Obviously, it doesn’t take a lot of poison to render a fluid dangerous to living things. For some poisons the measurements are made in parts per million or even parts per billion.

Moreover, even if added chemicals really do only make up 1%  of fracking fluid, it’s important to understand that a typical well can take two-to-four million gallons to frack. One-percent of four million is 40,000 gallons. Read More

News
Bernie Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders – Photo: AFL-CIO

There’s been a lot of talk that Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont will run for President in 2015-’16, but last night’s speech at Pullen Church in Raleigh before a friendly crowd of a few hundred people was all about policy. Sanders, a self-described Democratic Socialist who will turn 72 in a couple of weeks, devoted the lion’s share of his talk to lambasting the nation’s exploding economic inequality and the people (the Koch Brothers and their fellow plutocrats) and the policies (the demise of campaign finance laws, regressive tax laws) that he believes are behind it.

Sanders highlighted the nation’s dramatic rightward policy shift over recent decades by reading at length from the 1980 national Libertarian Party platform under which David Koch was a candidate for Vice President.  The senator then explained how many of the once-radical right policies that Koch had advanced at that time (e.g. the demise of the social safety net, the end of campaign finance regulations) were now considered mainstream conservative values. Read More

Uncategorized

The McCrory administration is looking to bolster North Carolina’s economy as it undergoes major changes in how it will recruit new employers to the state.

In a final meeting for the state’s economic development board, N.C. Commerce Sec. Sharon Decker told members Wednesday that she’s hoping to figure out a way to continue to attract businesses, even as the legislature declined to fund some of her priorities.

The state legislature ended its session earlier this month without funding a $20 million “closing fund” that Decker and Gov. Pat McCrory had asked for. But it did give its blessing to moving the state’s marketing and recruiting efforts to a public-private partnership, a setup that has had mixed results in other states.

The board for the new public-private economic development partnership is expected to meet this afternoon. The group hopes to be operational by early October.

State lawmakers also let a tax credit program for the film industry, which offered credits of approximately 25 cents for every $1 spent on big projects, to sunset at the end of the year. Lawmakers instead allocated $10 million for a modified grant program.

Decker said Wednesday that she’s already heard that several shows and film projects may be backing out of North Carolina because of the changes.

“The risk is significant,” Decker said, about the possibility of losing North Carolina film jobs.

Read More