In The Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution, Independent congressman, presidential candidate and activist Bernie Sanders continues his fight against the imbalances in the nation’s status quo, and shows you how to make a difference to effect the changes Americaand the worldneed to create a better tomorrow.
Throughout the Presidential campaign, Senator Bernie Sanders promised voters a future to believe in through his progressive platform and a vision for America worth fighting for. This vision calls for an economic, environmental, health care, and social justice revolution beyond the stagnate agendas of Democrat and Republican politicians to build an equitable future for all Americansespecially the younger generation that will inherit the consequences of decisions made now.
Inside this practical and inspiring guide to effecting change in today’s world, you’ll learn how to:
· Understand and navigate the current system of policy and government
· Work to change the system to reflect your values and to protect our society’s most vulnerable
· Organize for the causes you care about most
· Resources for further reading and organizations to get involved with
With more than two decades of Washington D.C. insider knowledge and experience, Senator Sanders knows how to fight and change the system from within, a system desperately in need of reform in health care, immigration, taxes, higher education, climate change, and criminal justice.
|Publisher:||Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)|
|Product dimensions:||5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)|
|Age Range:||12 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Bernie Sanders ran as a Democratic candidate for President of the United States in 2015 and 2016. He served as mayor of Burlington, Vermont’s largest city, for eight years before defeating an incumbent Republican to be the sole congressperson for the state in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1991. He was elected to the Senate in 2007 and is now in his second term, making him the longest-serving independent in the history of the Congress. He lives in Burlington, Vermont, with his wife, Jane, and has four children and seven grandchildren.
Read an Excerpt
GUARANTEEING A LIVABLE WAGE AND A DECENT LIFE
THE MINIMUM WAGE MUST BECOME A LIVING WAGE
In the wealthiest country in the history of the world, a basic principle of American economic life should be that if you work forty hours or more a week, you do not live in poverty.
Sadly, that is far from reality.
More than forty-three million Americans are living in poverty today. Many of those people actually work, but they are still below the federal poverty level. Meanwhile, health care costs are going up, child care costs are going up, college costs are going up, and housing costs are going up. But wages are not. Low-income workers need a significant boost in what they earn if they are going to live with dignity in today's economy.
The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is a starvation wage. The minimum wage must become a living wage — which means raising it to $15 an hour by 2020 and tying it to cost-of-living increases in the future. And we must also close the loophole that allows employers to pay workers who get tips — waiters, waitresses, bartenders, barbers, hairdressers, taxi drivers, car wash assistants, valet parking attendants — a shamefully low $2.13 an hour.
These changes would benefit more than seventy-five million workers and their families. It would help to address racial inequity, giving a boost to the 54 percent of African American workers and nearly 60 percent of Hispanic workers who earn less than $15 an hour. According to the most recent statistics, women make up nearly two-thirds of all minimum-wage workers. Increasing the minimum wage would also significantly boost the wages of more than fifteen million women currently making above minimum wage but less than $15 an hour.
In some places, the American people are demanding change. The cities of Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Washington, D.C., are all raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The states of California and New York, two of the largest in our country, did the same. As a result of these efforts, ten million workers in America will see their wages raised to $15 an hour.
This not only helps the ten million workers who get a pay raise but also provides a much-needed boost to our economy.
One measure of a country's economic health is its gross domestic product, the value of all the goods produced in the country and the services provided by its citizens in a year. Today, 70 percent of our GDP is dependent upon the purchasing power of consumers. If millions of American workers have no money available to purchase goods and services, the economy falters.
On the other hand, when low-wage workers have money in their pockets, they spend that money in grocery stores, restaurants, and businesses throughout this country. All this new business gives companies a reason to expand and hire more workers. This is a win-win-win for our economy. Poverty is reduced. New jobs are created. And we reduce the skyrocketing income inequality that currently exists in this country.
Every time a minimum wage increase is proposed locally or nationally, conservative politicians and their billionaire campaign contributors claim that jobs will be destroyed. Time and time again they have been proven dead wrong.
After San Jose, California, increased its minimum wage to $10 an hour in March 2013, fast-food restaurants did not lay off workers — they added workers. In fact, by 2014, employment gains in San Jose exceeded the job growth in the rest of the state.
San Francisco experienced impressive job gains in the food service industry after first raising its minimum wage in 2004. According to researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, between 2004 and 2011, restaurant employment increased nearly 18 percent in San Francisco, while nearby counties in the Bay Area without the higher standard saw only 13 percent growth.
In January 2014, SeaTac, Washington, became the first town in America to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour — which meant an immediate 63 percent pay increase for low-wage workers. Before this pay raise took effect, business owners warned of massive layoffs.
Scott Ostrander, general manager of Cedarbrook Lodge in SeaTac at the time, said that he would be forced to shut down part of the hotel, eliminate jobs, and reduce the hours of his workforce. But after the minimum wage was raised, business was so good that the hotel moved ahead with a $16 million expansion and hired more workers.
A Seattle restaurateur similarly warned that the higher minimum wage could force him to shut down restaurants. Instead, he announced that he would be opening five new restaurants in Seattle.
Increasing the minimum wage is good for businesses as well as workers because it reduces employee turnover. When workers earn a living wage, they are more likely to stay with their company.
A January 2015 poll by Hart Research Associates shows 63 percent of Americans support raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. It's not just what the American people want. Many economists support raising the minimum wage.
Why do the taxpayers of this country pay billions of dollars a year for programs such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as the food stamp program), Medicaid, and subsidized housing? The answer is clear. Millions of American workers need these programs because they cannot survive on the starvation wages their employers pay. Public assistance given to low-wage workers is essentially subsidizing the profits of the companies paying the low wages. Those corporations and all businesses should be paying their employees wages that they can live on with dignity, without the need for public assistance.
Consider Walmart. The Walton family, the owners of Walmart, is the wealthiest family in the country, with an estimated net worth of more than $130 billion. This one family owns more wealth than the combined wealth of the bottom 42 percent of Americans — 130 million people. It also receives more welfare than anybody else.
Walmart makes profits by paying wages so low that the workers not only qualify for but also need public assistance just to get by. Many Walmart employees rely on Medicaid for health insurance for themselves and their children — paid for by the taxpayers of America. To feed their families, many Walmart workers receive food stamps — paid for by the taxpayers of America. And to keep a roof over their heads, many Walmart employees live in subsidized housing — paid for by the taxpayers of America. When you add it all up, American taxpayers spend at least $6.2 billion each year supporting Walmart employees, and therefore subsidizing Walmart profits, according to a 2014 report from Americans for Tax Fairness.
Walmart claims it cannot afford to pay its workers $15 an hour, but in 2015, its chief executive officer was paid more than $19.8 million (that works out to more than $9,500 an hour for a forty-hour work week), and it made nearly $15 billion in profits. If Walmart had paid all its workers at least $15 an hour in that same year, it would still have made a profit of over $10 billion. The Walton family has to get off welfare. It must pay workers a living wage.
Another major welfare recipient in this country is the fast-food industry and its owners. Taxpayers spend about $7 billion a year subsidizing the low wages of fast-food companies like McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, and many others.
From 2009 to 2011, taxpayers spent nearly $153 billion each year subsidizing companies that pay workers inadequate wages, according to a 2015 report from the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education.
I believe that the government has a moral responsibility to provide for the vulnerable — the children, the elderly, the sick, and the disabled. But I do not believe that the government should burden taxpayers with the financial support of profitable corporations owned by some of the wealthiest people in this country. That's absurd.
And then there's the largest low-wage employer in America. It's not Walmart, McDonald's, or Burger King. The largest low-wage employer in America is the United States government.
Today, nearly two million Americans work at low-wage jobs funded by the taxpayers of our country, mainly through government contracts with private-sector employers to provide necessary services. That's more than the number of low-wage workers at Walmart and McDonald's combined.
These low-wage employees manufacture uniforms for the U.S. military. They repair our highways, sidewalks, and bridges. They work in gift shops at some of our national parks. They serve us breakfast and lunch in park cafeterias. They provide care for the elderly, the sick, and the disabled through government programs. They are the security guards who protect federal buildings and the employees who work there. They are janitors and groundskeepers who clean government office buildings, take out garbage, and mow lawns. The companies that hire these workers receive a contract from the federal government, and in too many instances those employers are not paying a living wage.
In 2014, Barack Obama's administration signed an executive order requiring federal contract workers to be paid at least $10.10 an hour. But while that was a step in the right direction, much more needs to be done. In my view, we need a new executive order to increase the minimum wage for federal contract workers to a living wage of $15 an hour.
Raising the minimum wage benefits the economy, and it benefits society as a whole. There's a clear connection between poverty, despair, and crime. According to a recent report by President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, "Higher wages for low-skilled workers reduce both property and violent crime, as well as crime among adolescents. The impact of wages on crime is substantial. ... A 10 percent increase in wages for non-college educated men results in approximately a 10 to 20 percent reduction in crime rates."
When wages go up, crime goes down, and everyone benefits.
There is also a direct correlation between healthy babies and higher wages. Poverty causes stress, which can have long-term health consequences. Researchers at the University of Iowa, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Bentley University found that every $1 increase in the minimum wage was associated with a 2 percent reduction in the risk of a mother having a baby with a low birth weight. (Low birth weight means a hard beginning for a child. It can affect intellectual and physical development for many years — perhaps permanently.)
When wages go up, community health improves, and everyone benefits.
The bottom line is not complicated. No full-time worker should live in poverty. We must raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK
Today, women make up nearly half of the U.S. workforce. Yet the average woman working full-time in this country still earns just 80 cents for every dollar a man makes doing the same job.
The gender pay gap is even worse for women of color. African American women earn just 63 cents, Hispanic women earn 54 cents, and Native American women only 58 cents for every dollar a white man earns.
Since the 1990s, more women have received undergraduate and graduate degrees than men. In spite of these gains, the gender pay gap has remained roughly the same for the past fifteen years.
Equal pay is not just a woman's issue; it is also a family issue. When women do not receive equal pay for equal work, families across America have less money to spend on child care, groceries, and housing.
For millions of families across America, the pay gap between men and women can be the difference between being able to pay the hospital bill and going without needed medical care. It can be the difference between being able to pay the heating bill and being cold in the winter. And it can be the difference between paying the mortgage and losing a home to foreclosure.
We have to stop penalizing women in the workplace who have children. New mothers should receive the same respect and pay on the job that men receive when they are about to become fathers. According to a recent study from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, when men become fathers, their earnings go up by 6 percent. What happens to women? For every child they have, their income goes down by 4 percent. That is absurd.
MAKING IT EASIER FOR WORKERS TO JOIN UNIONS
If we are serious about reducing income and wealth inequality and rebuilding the middle class, we have to substantially increase the number of union jobs in this country. We must make it easier, not harder, for workers to join unions. The benefits of joining a union are clear:
* Union workers earn 25 percent more, on average, than nonunion workers.
* More than 81 percent of union workers have guaranteed defined-benefit pension plans, while only 18 percent of nonunion workers do. These pension plans calculate a pension by years worked and salary at the time of retirement.
* More than 86 percent of workers in unions have paid sick leave, compared with just 65 percent of nonunion workers.
Today, just 11 percent of all public-sector workers belong to unions, and in the private sector it is now less than 7 percent. Historically, unions have enabled workers to earn good wages and work in decent conditions because of collective bargaining. Today, millions of workers are in a "take it or leave it" situation, with no power to influence their wages or benefits.
There is no question that one of the most significant reasons for the forty-year decline in the size of the middle class is that the rights of workers to join together and bargain for better wages, benefits, and working conditions have been severely undermined.
PAID FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE
When it comes to supporting real family values, the United States lags behind every other major country on earth. We are the only advanced economy that doesn't guarantee its workers some form of paid family leave, paid sick leave, or paid vacation time. About 23 percent of working mothers in America have to go back to work just two weeks after giving birth. Just two weeks to bond and spend time with their newborn. In some cases, this is a matter of life and death. The United States has the highest infant mortality rate in the industrialized world. A recent study by researchers at UCLA and McGill University found that every additional month of paid family leave can reduce the infant mortality rate by 13 percent.
The Family and Medical Leave Act that Congress passed in 1993 is totally inadequate for our twenty-first-century workforce. The act requires some employers to provide workers up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave for personal or family illness, military leave, pregnancy, adoption, or the foster care placement of a child. However, it covers only employees in companies with fifty or more employees, and it requires only unpaid, rather than paid, leave. More than 40 percent of all American workers are not even covered by the law because they work less than twenty-four hours a week, have not worked for the company for twelve months, or work for companies with fewer than fifty employees. And nearly eight out of ten workers who are covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act and are theoretically eligible to take time off cannot afford to do so. In my view, every worker in America should be guaranteed at least twelve weeks of paid family and medical leave.
Today it would cost the average worker more than $9,300 in lost wages to take twelve weeks of unpaid leave. Most workers simply do not have that kind of money. In fact, according to a December 2015 survey, 63 percent of Americans do not even have $500 in their bank accounts to pay for an unexpected medical emergency or needed car repair.
The economic benefits of paid family and medical leave more than outweigh the very modest costs of this program.
Women who have paid family leave are more likely to stay in the workforce and off federal programs like Medicaid, food stamps, and public housing.
Families that have paid leave are much less likely to declare bankruptcy.
And children have a greater chance of leading healthy and more productive lives if their parents have paid family leave.
The good news is that California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Washington, and New York have all passed laws guaranteeing paid family and medical leave to workers.
California and New Jersey guarantee workers six weeks of paid family and medical leave, and in Rhode Island workers are eligible for four weeks of paid leave. In 2021, New York will become the first state in the nation to offer workers twelve weeks of paid family and medical leave.
Excerpted from "Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution"
Copyright © 2017 Bernie Sanders.
Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
1 Guaranteeing a Livable Wage and a Decent Lie 1
2 Real Tax Reform 31
3 Reforming Wall Street 53
4 Health Care for All 61
5 Making Higher Education Affordable 103
6 Combating Climate Change 119
7 We Need Real Policing & Criminal Justice Reform 153
8 Immigration Reform Now 177
What Is "Government," Anyway? 206
Glossary of Economic Terms 207
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Pretty, pretty, pretty great! In all seriousness, this book gets to the point of issues and is engaging to those who are beginning to get into politics.