Rewriting the Rules to Benefit Everyone, Not Just the Wealthy

by Angela Zhao | June 30, 2015 10:34 am

Angela Zhao is the Communications Intern at the Center for Community Change.

Although the Roosevelt Institute’s” Rewriting the Rules” is a 115-page report advocating almost all imaginable social and economic reforms, at its core, it simply believes that the economy should support the majority of Americans rather than the 1 percent. It’s no coincidence that the agenda aligns with the goals of CCC’s Putting Families First: Good Jobs for All campaign which include closing the gender-wage gap and investing in clean energy.

Written by Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, Rewriting the Rules boasts an audacious social and political blueprint for the next decade. But despite its major focus on the economy, the ultimate purpose is clear: to shape how our country runs so that it gives the American people and their families the chance to lead the dignified lives they deserve.

Below are the five pieces to CCC’s Putting Families First campaign and how the Rewrite the Rules report supports each to show us why American families need an overhaul of the economy now more than ever.

  • Building a Clean Energy Economy

Infrastructure’s degradation and general lack of oversight costs the US not only financially, but environmentally too. Rewrite the Rules calls for large-scale investment in public transportation, water and energy, which will create millions of new good jobs and more “sustainable management of our energy and environmental resources.”  In addition, making clean energy more viable and improving infrastructure has the power to create economic equity, especially raising up areas that have lagged behind from lack of quality resources. New clean energy jobs and creating sustainable infrastructure will support families and the communities they live in.

  • Valuing Families.

Putting Families First wants to change the devaluing of home care jobs, many of which are filled by unpaid or underpaid women and women of color. It seeks high quality child care, jobs in early childhood education and financial support for caregivers. Rewriting the Rules calls for legislation that makes paid sick and family leave universal, for subsidized childcare so caregivers and women who work alike can be supported. By putting children and working parents first, families are prioritized in this proposal for a new economic agenda.

  • Guaranteeing Good Wages and Benefits

Every job in the US should meet a minimum standard of quality, one that includes wages, benefits, and working conditions. Workers have the right to representation and a real voice for themselves and their families. It sounds so simple: when people who work are given a fair wage, they can provide a decent living for themselves and their families. However, these people are constantly being taken advantage of. Rewriting the Rules wants to increase the minimum wage and make the government react strongly to labor standards violations. Wage theft, for example, is a serious issue, where low-wage workers are cheated out of their paychecks and often have no way to defend themselves. The penalties against this kind of fraud are weak, and should be rewritten with more legitimacy.

  • Unlocking opportunity in the poorest communities

Putting Families First believes that giving an economic boost to communities with poverty will help them escape the cycle of racial bias and disinvestment. According to the Rewriting the Rules Report, 22 percent of U.S. children live in poverty, including 39 percent of African American children and 32 percent of Latino children. By investing in the young children of these communities through childcare benefits and education, Rewrite the Rules believes that the trap of poverty can be eliminated from the ground up.

  • Taxing Concentrated Wealth

We can invest in jobs, care and the economy by taxing the 1 percent who unfairly benefit from how the rules of our economy are written today. Mike Konczal’s webinar presentation for Rewriting the Rules explained the need to increase the tax margin on the high income bracket. Economic data that shows there is no relationship between investment and taxes, and the 1 percent actually grows when marginal tax rates are cut. Konczal said that lower high end marginal tax rates create more incentive to do things “like stacking a board with friends to get a higher bonus.” Income inequality stems not so much from personal actions as it does from failures in the overarching structure of the economy, and taxing concentrated wealth will restructure the economic model to support millions of Americans and their families.

 

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Angela Zhao

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