June 23rd, 2013

chimera cat

Disabled workers paid just pennies an hour – and it's legal

Some Disabled Goodwill Workers Earn As Little As 22 Cents An Hour As Execs Earn Six Figures: Report

Goodwill is paying some of its disabled workers just 22 cents an hour, while the charity’s executives make six figure salaries. A labor law loophole enables the practice.

Some Pennsylvania Goodwill workers who are disabled made as little as 22, 38 and 41 cents per hour in 2011, according to Labor Department documents reviewed by NBC News. That’s because a 1938 law, called the Special Wage Certificate Program, aimed at encouraging employers to hire disabled workers, allows charities and companies to get special certificates from the Department of Labor that permits them to pay disabled workers based on their abilities, with no minimum.

Though other employers take advantage of the same loophole, a recent investigation by Watchdog.org brought attention to Goodwill's use of the certificate.

As some workers were making as little as 22 cents per hour in 2011, Goodwill International CEO Jim Gibbons made $729,000 in salary and deferred compensation. The CEOs of Goodwill franchises across the country collectively earned about $30 million, according to NBC.

Brad Turner-Little, Goodwill's director of mission strategy, told The Huffington Post that compensation of Goodwill executives and the wages earned by workers with disabilities aren't "connected." He explained that local Goodwill organizations make independent determinations about what to pay their executives based on what they need to recruit "good talent."

As for the workers with disabilities, their pay is determined through a "rigorous" review process in line with Department of Labor regulations that assess their productivity and other factors, Turner-Little said. Goodwill performs the reviews at least every six months to make sure employees are being paid properly.

"It's not a connected issue, it’s a different kind of job," Turner-Little said.

Still, the provision allows for a stark contrast between the executives' pay and that of some of their workers, an issue more commonly associated with for-profit companies than non-profit charities. S&P 500 CEOs make 204 times what their workers make on average, according to April data from Bloomberg.

In a HuffPost blog post published earlier this year, Gibbons defended the wage program, arguing that Goodwill has been “unfairly singled out” in the debate.

“While it is quite easy to look at this provision quickly and ask why people with disabilities should be paid less than other workers, the truth is the certificate allows Goodwill and many other employers to provide opportunities for people with severe disabilities who otherwise might not be a part of the workforce,” he wrote.

He added in a blog posted Friday, that “for young people with the most significant disabilities, the Special Minimum Wage Certificate means the difference between reaching their personal employment potential and having no job at all.”

Indeed, the employment rate for Americans with disabilities between 20 and 24 years-old is just 32 percent. And Goodwill's program provides workers with disabilities with more than just pay, Turner-Little said. They get services like transportation and community socialization activities.

"The wage earned is only part of the benefit of Goodwill’s use of the certificate," he said. "We welcome conversation that creates more opportunity for people with disabilities."

Source has video as well as links to more info that I'm too lazy tired to copypasta them all in here.

OP: I am so gobsmacked I can't even think what to say. Thoughts/comments?

Under GOP Plan, States Would Be Free To Take Money Away From Poorest Schools

Under GOP Plan, States Would Be Free To Take Money Away From Poorest Schools

Republicans are reintroducing a bill to allow states to redistribute federal education dollars currently targeted at the country’s poorest school districts. The A-PLUS Act, originally crafted by the arch-conservative Heritage Foundation, was first introduced in 2007, and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) have revived it for 2013.

The measure represents the conservative establishment’s answer to the failures of the Bush-era education reforms known as No Child Left Behind. Proponents argue it would close achievement gaps by freeing states to spend federal money allocated to poverty-stricken schools without being bound by the conditions of current education laws. But as a ThinkProgress guest blogger wrote in 2011, the bill would “widen achievement gaps rather than close them” because states are unlikely to maintain funding levels for poor schools if given the freedom A-PLUS provides:

The sad fact is that states don’t always take actions to support their most vulnerable children. Texas officials recently battled over whether education money should be used to actually provide education services to children, a standoff that ended after nine long months. As budget cuts force increasing numbers of states to wrestle with funding challenges, federal Title I funds must remain a stable source of funding for students who have the least access to resources.


Indeed, according to Education Week, states would no longer be obligated to break out educational achievement statistics by demographic subgroups, restricting our ability to even understand what the flaws in our educational system look like. The magazine notes that A-PLUS’ reintroduction comes as House conservatives are already preparing a reauthorization of No Child Left Behind that would seriously curtail the federal government’s role in education.

Source

OP: Because nothing says "let's get those lazy bums off of SSI" like shutting down elementary education in a society where one is starting to need a BA to get a starter job, amirite? Or maybe they're thinking: budget problems? What budget problems? Follow these three easy steps and free up lots of money: a) reauthorize No Child, b) take away what tiny funds poor neighborhood elementary schools have, c) shut down failing schools! No more budget problems! WIN! Let's go lower the Walmart heirs' taxes and maybe they'll let us wipe their asses!

Sorry. I'm reading The Working Poor atm. This is all so very, very depressing.
Godzilla, default

Irony, thy name is contemporary times:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/20/russ-tice-nsa-obama_n_3473538.html

Russ Tice, Bush-Era Whistleblower, Claims NSA Ordered Wiretap Of Barack Obama In 2004

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted:  |  Updated: 06/20/2013 7:04 pm EDT

Russ Tice, a former intelligence analyst who in 2005 blew the whistle on what he alleged was massive unconstitutional domestic spying across multiple agencies, claimed Wednesday that the NSA had ordered wiretaps on phones connected to then-Senate candidate Barack Obama in 2004.

Speaking on "The Boiling Frogs Show," Tice claimed the intelligence community had ordered surveillance on a wide range of groups and individuals, including high-ranking military officials, lawmakers and diplomats.

"Here's the big one ... this was in summer of 2004, one of the papers that I held in my hand was to wiretap a bunch of numbers associated with a 40-something-year-old wannabe senator for Illinois," he said. "You wouldn't happen to know where that guy lives right now would you? It's a big white house in Washington, D.C. That's who they went after, and that's the president of the United States now."

Host Sibel Edmonds and Tice both raised concerns that such alleged monitoring of subjects, unbeknownst to them, could provide the intelligence agencies with huge power to blackmail their targets.

"I was worried that the intelligence community now has sway over what is going on," Tice said.

After going public with his allegations in 2005, Tice later admitted that he had been a key source in a bombshell New York Times report that blew the lid off the Bush administration's use of warrantless wiretapping of international communications in the U.S. The article forced Bush to admit that the practice was indeed used on a small number of Americans, but Tice maintained that the NSA practice was likely being used the gather records for millions of Americans. The NSA denied Tice's allegations.

In the wake of recent reports detailing the extent of the NSA's data surveillance programs, Tice has again come out as a skeptic of the administration's response. While defenders of the program have insisted that there is nothing to suggest the government has the authority -- or desire -- to listen in on people's phone calls without a warrant, Tice told The Guardian that he believes the NSA has developed the capability "to collect all digital communications word for word."

(Audio of Tice's interview on "The Boiling Frogs Show above, via MSPB Watch.)

__________________

OP Commentary: Well, the one thing that can be said here is that irony, like karma, bites like a bulldog when it decides to bite. A few more things to be said here are that I wonder what possessed them to spy on a state senator like this, and how many other politicians were spied on like this. And I would also note that this is neither surprising nor anything atypical in US government history, unfortunately. This certainly is an interesting development in this whole sordid reminder of a dark underbelly of the US political sphere.
[Other] Bill Hader

A short article about the cost of higher education, then and now.

Yes, summer job paid tuition back in ’81, but then we got cheap


People tell me you used to be able to work one job, the entire summer, and cover your entire education. I’m not sure how long ago that was — I have a hard time believing it. — Stephan Yhann, 21, current UW student

Put down your smartphones, kids, and gather around Uncle Danny. I’m here to tell you a little something about these yarns from the days of yore, these tales so tall and preposterous.

What’s most amazing about them is: They’re true! You really could work a summer job and pay for your education.

I saw it myself. And I’m only 48 years old!

OK, I say “only,” as if 48 isn’t all that old. Which, let’s be blunt, it is. But it’s not like I’m reaching back to the 1930s here. Just the ’80s. Depressing, maybe, but hardly the Depression.

Yet in the early 1980s, when I was about to head off to college, I worked jobs at Kentucky Fried Chicken and later at a rubber-parts factory, where I got paid $3 and $6 an hour. With no skills whatever, I made $120 to $240 a week.

Sounds like beer money only. But here’s the part that will really freak out you kids today: a year of tuition and fees at the University of Washington in, say, 1981, was $687. It was similar for other public colleges around the nation.

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Source: Seattle TImes