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Overturning Roe v. Wade Isn’t Just About Abortion

By MICHELE GILMAN

Participants hold signs during the Women’s March “Hold The Line For Abortion Justice” at the U.S. Supreme Court on December 01, 2021 in Washington, DC. PHOTO BY LEIGH VOGEL/GETTY IMAGES FOR WOMEN’S MARCH INC

On Dec. 1, 2021, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that may result in a ruling that overturns Roe v. Wade.

But reproductive health isn’t just about abortions, despite all the attention the procedures get. It’s also about access to family planning services, contraception, sex education and much else—all of which have also been under threat in recent years.

Such access lets women control the timing and size of their families so they have children when they are financially secure and emotionally ready and can finish their education and advance in the workplace. After all, having children is expensivetypically costing almost $15,000 a year for a middle-class family. For low-income working families, child care costs alone can eat up over a third of earnings.

And that’s why providing Americans with a full range of reproductive health options is good for the economy and simultaneously essential to the financial security of women and their families. As a law professor who represents people experiencing poverty, I believe doing the opposite threatens not only the physical health of women but their economic well-being too.

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Restaurant Workers Organize for Fair Wages

Saru Jayaraman, President of the national One Fair Wage coalition, proposes a plan to replace tips with fair wages in New York City, New York. PHOTO BY ANDY HIRSCHFELD Today’s subminimum wages are a legacy of racist policies that date from the Civil War.


BY ANDY HIRSCHFELD  

Christine Thurman is a mother of three. She’s engaged and is the breadwinner in her Chicago household. She also works as a waitress, living primarily off of tips because she’s paid a subminimum wage of $2.13 per hour. 

She can neither raise her children nor put food on the table on that hourly rate. That’s in part why she’s fighting to get fairer wages.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, but federal law allows an employer to pay well below this hourly rate as long as an employee makes at least $30 in tips per month.

The subminimum wage is just one manifestation of the systemic racism that has been entrenched in the United States’ identity since its founding. While the federal minimum wage was last raised in 2009, the subminimum wage has been set at $2.13 per hour since 1996. But the concept of tip wages is even older—a relic of the Civil War. After emancipation, tipped wages were used as a way for businesses to not have to directly pay formerly enslaved people. Their income was dependent on the generosity of strangers.

Then when the concept of a minimum wage was introduced, these workers were left behind. In order to get support for the New Deal from Southern Democrats, Franklin Roosevelt introduced a federal minimum wage for workers, but excluded industries dominated by communities of color, like domestic and agricultural work.

This deeply entrenched problem leaves people like Thurman, who works a full 40-hour week, feeling underpaid for the time she puts in. “If you work hard you should be paid fairly,” Thurman says. 

Some restaurateurs recognize that. Chef Russell Jackson, who owns Reverence in New York City, pays his staff a high and livable wage of $22.50 per hour, nearly twice the state minimum wage of $12.50. New York state eliminated the subminimum wage for many tipped industries in 2020, but the hospitality industry notably was excluded from the change in law. 

With 40 years of experience in the food industry, Jackson says he’s never seen such an impact of his wage policy on his employees. He believes paying a living wage fosters a sense of financial pride that is rare in the restaurant industry.

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In a World on Fire, Is Nonviolence Still an Option? (+4 more)

BY TIM DECHRISTOPHER 

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” John F. Kennedy, March 13, 1962

Over the past few years, advocates of nonviolence (such as myself) have been losing the debate in the climate movement. After decades of a well-funded and organized movement that has tried every nonviolent strategy, yet failed to pressure power structures away from the path of climate catastrophe, the promise of nonviolent success rests mainly on faith. 

Adding to the lack of efficacy is a startling rise in draconian consequences for peaceful activism, including dozens of states that have proposed laws legalizing vehicular homicide of activists marching on a public street. As proponents of nonviolence are increasingly ridiculed as “peace police” and booed out of movement spaces, Kennedy’s warning grows more urgent. 

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We Don’t Need Prisons to Make Us Safer

BY VICTORIA LAW

ILLUSTRATION BY KEITH BISHOP/GETTY IMAGES

To the statement that prisons provide safety, we should ask, “Safety for whom? And from what?”

The United States now has 2.3 million people behind bars of some form or another. These are not 2.3 million isolated individuals—their imprisonment sends reverberations into their families and communities. On any given day, 2.7 million children have a parent in prison. Incarcerating that parent removes a source of financial and emotional support for both children and adult family members. For families who are already in economically precarious situations, removing a parent can plunge them into poverty, reduce their safety, and make them more vulnerable to arrest and incarceration.

This is not to say that we don’t need interventions when harm and violence happen. But prisons have proven again and again to be an ineffective intervention. First, we must remember that incarceration is a form of punishment and incapacitation that happens after harm has occurred, not before. We must also remember that incarceration addresses only certain types of harm. People who sell drugs on the street risk arrest and imprisonment. But the same rarely applies to wealthy people like the Sackler family, who earned billions from OxyContin, the addictive painkiller launched in 1996 that spawned today’s opioid crisis. Likewise, board members and corporate executives responsible for oil spills and other environmental disasters or for precipitating economic crises rarely face handcuffs and jail time.

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The Significance of Uncle Tom in the 21st Century