In the Democrats Abroad primary, the Vermont senator beat his rival by a wide margin and picked up nine delegates.
Bernie Sanders keeps arguing that the United States should look abroad for policies that would make the nation more equitable—and it seems that Americans who live there agree with him.
Results from the Democrats Abroad primary show the Vermont senator cruising to a big win over Hillary Clinton among ex-pats, taking 69 percent of the vote to her 31. That’s good to net Sanders nine delegates and Clinton four. Nearly 35,000 Americans overseas cast ballots, a 50 percent increase over the 2008 total.
Clinton has pushed back against Sanders’s praise for Scandinavian countries. “We are not Denmark,” she said in October, hastening to add: “I love Denmark.” It turns out that affection wasn’t reciprocated by the American Democrats there. Sanders whomped her in Denmark, 358-89. In Sweden, Sanders won 513-202. In Norway, he won 328-102.
The figures highlight the mismatch between dipping job earnings and soaring housing costs.
Yes, the American economy is improving, and yes, we’re creating more jobs. But the hourly wages for a lot of these jobs are stagnant at best. According to the Pew Research Center, 30 percent of America’s workforce earns a near-minimum-wage salary—that’s almost 21 million people. As a cruel paradox, rents across the country keep rising.
A new report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition examines how these opposite trends play out regionally. The work maps how much an American worker needs to earn per hour in each state to rent a two-bedroom apartment. It finds that in no state can a person earning minimum wage afford such an apartment at market rent.
Even a single bedroom apartment isn’t cheap—requiring people to earn $15.50 an hour to rent. Three-quarters of extremely low-income renters (those who earn less than 30 percent of the average median income in an area), for example, pay more than half their salaries toward rent, the report says. For minimum wage renters, $15.50 is around double what they’re earning, which makes renting a one-bedroom out of question.
Expanding the nation’s affordable housing stock is one obvious solution. Raising the minimum wage, and fixing exploitative scheduling policies for part-time and full-time workers, are others. The National Low Income Housing Coalition report calculated that counties in Washington and Oregon, where state minimum wage is above $9, were the only ones where a worker earning that much could afford a one-bedroom apartment rent. For people earning a little more than $7 an hour, making rent for a one-bedroom place would take an average of 85 hours per week; for a two-bedroom, they’d have to work 102 hours per week.
Officials calling for calm can offer no rational justification for Gray’s death, and so they appeal for order.
Rioting broke out on Monday in Baltimore—an angry response to the death of Freddie Gray, a death my native city seems powerless to explain. Gray did not die mysteriously in some back alley but in the custody of the city’s publicly appointed guardians of order. And yet the mayor of that city and the commissioner of that city’s police still have no idea what happened. I suspect this is not because the mayor and police commissioner are bad people, but because the state of Maryland prioritizes the protection of police officers charged with abuse over the citizens who fall under its purview.
The citizens who live in West Baltimore, where the rioting began, intuitively understand this. I grew up across the street from Mondawmin Mall, where today’s riots began. My mother was raised in the same housing project, Gilmor Homes, where Freddie Gray was killed. Everyone I knew who lived in that world regarded the police not with admiration and respect but with fear and caution. People write these feelings off as wholly irrational at their own peril, or their own leisure. The case against the Baltimore police, and the society that superintends them, is easily made:
Over the past four years, more than 100 people have won court judgments or settlements related to allegations of brutality and civil rights violations. Victims include a 15-year-old boy riding a dirt bike, a 26-year-old pregnant accountant who had witnessed a beating, a 50-year-old woman selling church raffle tickets, a 65-year-old church deacon rolling a cigarette and an 87-year-old grandmother aiding her wounded grandson ….
And in almost every case, prosecutors or judges dismissed the charges against the victims—if charges were filed at all. In an incident that drew headlines recently, charges against a South Baltimore man were dropped after a video showed an officer repeatedly punching him—a beating that led the police commissioner to say he was “shocked.”
The money paid out by the city to cover for the brutal acts of its police department would be enough to build “a state-of-the-art rec center or renovations at more than 30 playgrounds.” Instead, the money was used to cover for the brutal acts of the city’s police department and ensure they remained well beyond any semblance of justice.
Now, tonight, I turn on the news and I see politicians calling for young people in Baltimore to remain peaceful and “nonviolent.” These well-intended pleas strike me as the right answer to the wrong question. To understand the question, it’s worth remembering what, specifically, happened to Freddie Gray. An officer made eye contact with Gray. Gray, for unknown reasons, ran. The officer and his colleagues then detained Gray. They found him in possession of a switchblade. They arrested him while he yelled in pain. And then, within an hour, his spine was mostly severed. A week later, he was dead. What specifically was the crime here? What particular threat did Freddie Gray pose? Why is mere eye contact and then running worthy of detention at the hands of the state? Why is Freddie Gray dead?
Six years later, the government is finally getting out of the car business with more than a bit of profit.
The Treasury Department announced on Friday morning that with the sale of its nearly 55 million remaining stock shares of Ally Financial (formerly GMAC), the Obama administration had finished up its rescue of the auto industry. The sale also marked the last major investment of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, which began in the final months of George W. Bush’s presidency.
Congress’s initial authorization of a $700 billion bailout for big banks in late 2008 sparked angry protests from voters and helped spawn the Tea Party movement. But after a lengthy and often agonizing economic recovery, the government ended up making a total profit of more than $15 billion off the $426.4 billion it ultimately spent to rescue financial firms and auto companies through TARP.
So does that mean the bailouts worked? For President Obama and his team, the answer is yes. “The Auto Industry Financing Program helped save the auto industry, more than one million jobs, and prevent a second Great Depression,” Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew crowed in a statement on Friday. And in 2012, Obama centered his successful reelection campaign on the premise that the government’s action “saved” the auto industry from extinction.