I was torn about failing a fifth-grader. In a poor, predominantly black school, there were plenty of tests but few right answers.
This weekend, low-wage workers from around the country will be arriving in my city, Richmond, to make a case for increasing the minimum wage. It’s the first-ever national convention for the Fight for $15 movement, which in the past few years has launched wide-ranging strikes and protests to raise awareness about how a $7.25-an-hour wage—the current federal minimum—just doesn’t cut it for many workers struggling to make ends meet for themselves and their families.
There’s a long line of economic arguments in favor of, and opposed to, increases in the minimum wage. Among other things, opponents say it will raise prices for consumers, cause employers to slash jobs or cut back on workers’ hours, and put many companies out of business. Advocates say it will help the economy by giving workers more money to spend in their communities, encouraging the unemployed to seek out work, and reducing the stress and anxiety the working poor deal with, as well as their reliance on government benefits.
As important as the economic impacts of this policy are, however, it’s even more important to consider its cultural and moral implications. After all, that’s what drives much of the widespread public support for increasing the minimum wage, even among people who have never heard of, say, the elasticities of labor supply and demand. Many Americans just don’t think it is right that people who work hard should have to struggle so hard.
The sun was sinking, the day finally ending. I sat on the beach in Mazatlán, propped against my pack, swim trunks still damp under my jeans. At this hour, the beach was empty.
The night before I'd stopped in Mazatlán, a city on Mexico’s northwestern coast, to break up the long bus trip from Tijuana to Guadalajara. Back in Seattle, the Sunday travel section had made the place sound like paradise. All I’d found was a gloomy hotel room, an ocean too hot for swimming, Gila monsters splashing in an open sewer nearby, and a couple of scrawny teenagers humping alongside a broken concrete path near the beach.
The bus to Guadalajara would arrive in an hour, but I didn’t feel like waiting in the bus station. I opened up a book and started reading on the beach.
Best of In The Fray 2015.
As they head into what should be their golden years, many older immigrants still work low-wage jobs and remain undocumented. Unable to save up or receive benefits for the elderly, they can do little but hope they stay healthy and employable. Part two of a two-part series.
I saw them everywhere in Europe: street people traveling with their dogs. How can a homeless person who can barely take care of himself take decent care of an animal? With love.
Best of In The Fray 2013.
Raised in small-town Minnesota, college student Shelby Wolfe traveled to Ethiopia to shoot images for a documentary about poverty. There she met Rahel, a fourteen-year-old girl orphaned by AIDS.
After her mother's unexplained death, a young woman ponders the long-term toll of not having access to adequate health care. A toothache brings on psychic hysteria about whether her own eventual demise will align with that of her mom.
Home to one-third of the world’s poor, India attracts hundreds of Christian humanitarian groups seeking to do God’s work in its slums and hinterlands. But while these groups make up in vital ways for the failings of government and markets, their work comes with a consequence: conversion.
Best of In The Fray 2012.
Around the world, protesters decry the inequality and excess of free-market capitalism’s “race to the bottom.” But in East Africa, social entrepreneurs are planting the young roots of a new, cause-minded capitalism.