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There’s some new and concrete confirmation of the common sense analysis highlighted earlier this morning in the post about last night’s Democratic gubernatorial debate. It comes from this study released by Action for Children North Carolina, entitled “Public Investments Matter for Child Well-Being: Smart State Policy Can Change Lives.”

“The public policy in each state that most strongly correlates with high child well-being is the state and local tax rates and related revenues (r = +0.50).x

Figure 4 shows that states with higher tax rates and revenues have higher child well-being scores than states with lower tax rates and revenues.” Read More

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How old were you when you got your first paying job? For most of you the answer will be 16 or later. In 1938 the Fair Labor Standards Act was amended to establish for the first time a minimum age for lawful employment in the United States.  That age was- and still is- 16. In those industries identified as particularly hazardous, such as mining, the minimum age is 18. But in agriculture, which ranks among the most hazardous industries, kids as young as 10 can be lawfully employed.  As an article in this week’s Independent Weekly explains, children working on North Carolina farms face all kinds of risks, including heat stress and pesticide exposure.

Last fall the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) proposed new rules  to protect children from dangerous work in agriculture.  This is the first update to the rules in 40 years. The proposed changes were based largely on recommendations made by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Those rules would create 15 new Agricultural Hazardous Occupation Orders, or “Ag. H.O.s.”  Children under age 16 would not be allowed to work in the occupations designated as an “Ag. H.O.” unless it is on a farm owned and operated by their parents.  If adopted, the rules would, among other things: Read More

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Maybe a lot of you are already aware of this remarkable story, but I confess that I just found about it today.

Florida prosecutors are trying 12 year-old Christian Fernandez as an adult for the murder of his two year-old brother. I’ll say that again: prosecutors are trying a 12 year-old — a boy born in1999 — as an adult. The boy, who was himself born to a 12 year-old mother and has endured a dreadful life of abuse, faces life in prison. Read More

Many on the modern far right would have us believe that human nature and society are essentially immutable — that we are all slaves to social “laws” bequeathed by Milton Friedman and/or the Almighty and there is nothing we can do to collectively, intentionally improve the world (other than to get out of the way of “the invisible hand”).

Fortunately, reality continues to intervene and remind us of myriad ways in which forward-thinking humans continue to intentionally and collectively improve the world. Read More

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The good folks at Toxic Free NC have a new, short (about six minutes) film out about two inexcusable phenomena that continue to plague the modern food industry in North Carolina: 1) the continued use of young children in one of the nation’s most dangerous occupations, and 2) the ongoing failure of state officials to enforce laws designed to protect farmworkers and their families from pesticide exposure.

The film is called “Overworked & Under Spray” and it’s worth a few minutes out of your day. There are no sensational revelations or tragic, tear-jerking moments; it’s just a group of average North Carolina kids talking about something that our state continues to allow to happen so that we can all save a few pennies on our sweet potatoes, cucumbers and cigarettes.    

Would that the state’s do-nothing Commissioner of Elevators would get off of her behind and maybe, for the first time in anyone’s memory, do something meaningful about a worker safety issue.