Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Working Poor and Livable Wage

Susan Brannon
28 December 2011
The required Federal Minimum wage keeps the average American family of four living in poverty. According to the Working Poor Families Project study, as of in December 2010 Nearly one in every three American families is classified as the working poor, that is 45 million people including 22 million children.  These are the people who can barely make it from month to month, they are two income providers and blue collar workers.  The wages and hours are decreasing and the monthly bills keep going up.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics defines the working poor as " people who has spent 27 weeks in the past year either working or looking for work whose income is below the poverty level. "
When the minimum wage was first introduced nationally in 1938,it was considered "a livable wage" for an American family of four. but the reality compared to the inflation rate is that the sustainable "value" has been going down.The problem is that the required minimum wage amount is not high enough compared to the real monetary value has kept the American people living below the poverty level since 1938.

One would think that the set minimum wage would be a number to keep people above water and enough to put food on the table, but this has not been the case. For example, in 1968 the minimum wage was $1.60 per hour but in real value compared to inflation it should have been $10.04 per hour to survive. From 1996 to 2006 the minimum wage remained at $4.25 per hour for 10 years without any adjustments. This was a time period of good economic times, yet inflation continued to rise and family's were quickly discovering that they needed two jobs per household in order to maintain their standard of living.

The current minimum wage is $7.25 per hour but in real value terms, it should be $10.39 per hour in order to obtain a livable wage. If inflation does not rise sharply in 2012, $10.39 per hour with a 40 hour work week, should be enough to pay the rent, food, gas and utilities, but not much more.  Of course this also depends on the cost of living in your city and state.

The situation gets a bit more complicated considering our current economical problems. Simply comparing the real value vs minimum wage is not enough to get the real picture on the situation with the working poor in America.  Corporations and small businesses are feeling the pinch of the faltering economy and in order to reduce their costs, they increase the amount of workers and reduce the work hours for each worker. This process reduces the business cost of providing benefits to the workers.  They must maintain a profit in order to remain in business.  The result is that the average blue collar worker has found themselves working 20 hours a week without benefits and must another job to make the difference.  Many working poor families are now holding four part-time jobs to make their monthly payments. According to the Working Poor Families Project:
  • More than half of the U.S. labor force (55 percent) has “suffered a spell of unemployment, a cut in pay, a reduction in hours or have become involuntary part-time workers” since the recession began in December 2007.
  • Income inequality continued to grow with the richest 20 percent of working families taking home 47 percent of all income and earning 10 times that of low-income working families.
In most states part-time employees generally have limited or no company benefits, such as health benefits, vacation and sick time, paid holidays, and unemployment compensation. Part time employees are not protected under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in turn, more and more workers are surviving without medical insurance, paid holidays and sick leave.

I thought I would include here some more statistics that show what the working poor are now facing:
  • As 2007 began, only 26 million Americans were on food stamps, but now 42 million Americans are on food stamps and that number keeps rising every single month. (Wall Street Journal
  • Since 2001, over 42,000 U.S. factories have closed down for good. (The American Dream
  • In 2009, total wages, median wages, and average wages all declined in the United States. (
  • Half of all American workers now earn $505 or less per week. (
  • In 1976, the top 1 percent of earners in the United States took in 8.9 percent of all income.  By 2007, that number had risen to 23.5 percent. (New York Times
  • Since the year 2000, we have lost 10% of our middle class jobs.  In the year 2000 there were about 72 million middle class jobs in the United States but today there are only about 65 million middle class jobs.  Meanwhile, our population is getting larger. (Zerohege)
As of October 2011, 46 million people in America are receiving food stamps and 50.7 million people do not have medical insurance. Now many families need to pay for their own medical insurance and doctor bills and many times with a very high deductible. This makes the total picture a bit different than before because the real "livable wage" should be calculated including the cost of medical, retirement and sick time because of the lost benefits for the blue collar worker.  I figure the real livable wage should be at least be double the amount that is calculated by recent studies from the given $10.39 per hour to $20.80 per hour.  If a blue collar part time worker can receive $20.80 per hour, then he/she should be able to pay the bills and pay for their medical care and save towards retirement.

If you are a member of the working poor, I wish that I had better news for you but as it looks things are not going to get any better and millions of Americans will be joining you soon.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Child Abuse: The Silent Epidemic in America

Susan Brannon
28 November 2011
It came to my attention that there are over 3 million reports of child abuse each year in the United States.  In 2009 approximately 3.3 million child abuse reports were made involving 6 million children.  This is because when the government reports child abuse cases, it is the number of cases, not the number of children, nor how many of them at one time.  These numbers make America the worst in developing countries for child abuse.  The highest amount of reports came from the state of Texas.

The BBC compares countries by annual deaths per 100,000
  • Germany: 0.8UK: 0.9
    Japan: 1

    France: 1.4

    America: 2.4
      America is almost double of France; more than double for the other reported countries
These numbers are the "official" numbers, however most of the abused and neglected children never come to the attention of government authorities.  This is particularly true for neglected and sexually abused children, who have no signs of physical harm.  In the end, these numbers do NOT represent the actual rates of child abuse in the United States. (Nor for that manner, in any other country)

According to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services; Division for Children and Families: A victim is defined as a "child for whom the State determined at least one maltreatment was found to be substantiated or indicated; and a disposition of substantiated, indicated, or alternative response victim was assigned.Does the term substantiated or indicated mean that if there are reports, and there are no signs of physical abuse, is it not counted?

We now know the official numbers but the real questions is; "Why is child abuse so high in America?" It is difficult to find the answers, because there are so many factors that could be involved.  The question of violence in movies and television, stress, tension in a working world, poor role models...the list could go on, and on.   Considering the facts listed below; child abuse occurs no matter what the race, income, religion, or region. This means that we cannot include poverty, blacks, whites, Asian, Christians, Mormons or po- dunk town rural America.  The findings mean anyone can be involved, your neighbor, your boss, your pastor, or your best friend and considering the numbers it is most likely that on your average day, you will have spoken or sat next to someone that is/was either an abuser or a victim.  This is a sad and unspoken reality in America, the land of the free where dream can come true.

Dept. of Human Services reports: 
  • "Eighty-seven percent of unique victims were comprised of three races or ethnicities—African-American (22.3%),
    ---Hispanic (20.7%),
    ---White (44.0%). 
  • However, victims of African-American, American Indian or Alaska Native, and multiple racial descent had the highest rates of victimization at 15.1, 11.6, and 12.4 victims, respectively, per 1,000 children in the population of the same race or ethnicity."
Sadly, we do know that most cases of child abuse does not occur just one time.  
  • The re-occurrence rate is 94.6% according to the Child and Family Services Reviews. 
Their numbers are based on those who have been abused within a 6 month period within the reporting year. This means that the child is not only abused once, but twice, or three times or more in 6 months.  

It seems to me that in order to gather the percentage rate for re-occurrence, then those who gather the reports, know of the crimes, the abusers and the victims; since the re-occurrence rate is so high, then why are the children still with or in contact with their abusers?  Why is the child put back into the position of repeated abuse?   *Remember, the numbers reflect the cases that are "reported" and there are many more that are not reported.
  • Unfortunately, the youngest children are the most vulnerable, 80.8%  of the children are either killed or abused during the first three years of their life. I need to write that again, to make sure these facts sink into our minds of denial.  The first three years of life.  During the most important time in a child's' life where they learn to trust and understand how the world works.  UNICEF reports, "These early childhood years are when experiences and interactions with parents, family members and other adults influence the way a child’s brain develops, with as much impact as such factors as adequate nutrition, good health and clean water. And how the child develops during this period sets the stage for later success in school and the character of adolescence and adulthood."  and continues, "But the brain’s malleability during these early years also means that when children do not get the care they need, or if they experience starvation, abuse or neglect, their brain development may be compromised"  This includes all the key ingredients, All the key ingredients of emotional intelligence — confidence, curiosity, intentionality, self-control, relatedness, capacity to communicate and cooperativeness — 
  • More than 90% of child sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator in some way. In 2009, those of those abused, 37% was by their mother and 18.6 % by the father.  The lowest amount was zero, for a foster parent male relative.
If it is mothers who are committing the most of the abuses, then we should investigate as to why are the mothers doing this. A few studies revealed that the risk factor for children increases with extreme low income, low maternal education, maternal depression and the presence of other young children in the home.  The risk factor decreases when the mother has a strong presence of social support. (PubMed)  Additional studies reveal that the new moms are isolated and more withdrawn after the birth of a new child and combined with postpartum blues, risk factors increase.

The bottom line?  I believe that in light of the current research the mothers need stronger social support that is combined with increased maternal education including listing where the mothers can go for help in their area.  Unfortunately, we are in an economic downturn with government cut-backs at every turn.  Funding for home based social support is about diminished to help these mothers who are distraught. 

To lower the numbers of abuse cases in the United States, is important to promote and advocate as soon as the child is born and hospitals are the best places to distribute educational and local resources to all new mothers. They should be distributed to all new mothers no matter the age, race or income.  If someone would know of where they can go for help, then just maybe a child could be saved.

I have noticed in my research on topics such as this, that finding the resources is quite difficult and a person would need to be able to think logically with a clear and concise mind in order to find services in their areas. One website leads to another, many of the phone numbers are wrong, they do not answer their phones or the services are in a different state.  In addition, the mother would have to be Internet savvy and have internet access, while at the same time, deal with the stressors of being a new mother.

Here are Some Quick Facts:
  • In 2010 there were more than 5 deaths each day due to abuse and neglect. This means that a report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds
  • Approximately 80% of children that die from abuse are under the age of 4.
  • It is estimated that between 50-60% of child fatalities are due to maltreatment are not recorded on death certificates.

  • Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, ethnic, cultural, religious and educational background.
  • 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children.
  • About 80% of 21 year olds that were abused as children met criteria for at least one psychological disorder.
  • The annual cost of child abuse and neglect for 2007 was 104 Billion dollars.
  • 25% of those abused are more likely to experience teen pregnancy.
78.3% of the reported abuse was for neglect
10.8% physical abuse
7.6% Psychological maltreatment
7.6% Sexual Abuse

Child Help 
Department for Health and Human Services and Child welfare

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Minimum Wage in Real Value 1938-2010

Susan Brannon
26 November 2011

Did you know that the U.S. minimum wage in real dollars had been going down in relation to inflation?  This is one reason why it now takes two or three jobs per household to keep above water.  In 1938 the the minimum wage was $0.25 / per hour to 2010 of $7.25.  If we adjust the wages to 2010 dollars this shows the real value of minimum wage.  In 1968, the minimum wage in real dollars was equal to $10.04 per/hour.  That is quite a drop from todays wages.
Real Value Minimum Wage Red Squares - Nominal Value Blue Dots . Graph by OSU 2010
Even if you take the states that ventured away from the Federal minimum wage amounts, with the highest being in Washington for January 1, 2012 to $9.04 per/hour, that is still a drop from 1968.  No wonder the 60's were remembered as the good times.

If that is not enough for reality, if we take the Real Annual Wage since 1938 and compare that to the real poverty level for a family of four, not once has the required Federal minimum wage levels kept any family above the poverty line.  Minimum wage varied from a maximum of 90% of the poverty level in 1968, and has averaged two thirds of the poverty level since 1959, when the poverty level was established.  In 2006 the minimum wage level was raised for the first time in ten years without any adjustment.
Real Annual Income Wage /Poverty Line; Graph OSU
The reality is that as the real value of minimum wage has declined, so has the percent of workers that it covered.  Now over 130 cities survive on "living wages".

A living wage is the minimum hourly income necessary for a worker to meet their basic needs during a 40 hour work week.  This includes shelter, clothing, food etc.  Some cities has passed a living wage ordinance such as San Francisco, California, Santa Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico.  This usually totals to be around $3 to $7 dollars above minimum wage.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I AM NOT MOVING - Short Film - Occupy Wall Street

A great video

#Occupy Bat Signal for the 99%

Video: Fireworks over Cairo as thousands occupy Tahrir

America, we have not learned a thing...boy are these guys determined

Corruption from Yemen, money laundering

This should be on the crossing borders project website! This is a voice.

The Secret War on Terror Videos You Won't See On the News- Yemen 02 Nov ...

I don't know if anyone has noticed, but our news has been focused on Black Friday, while the revolutions in the Middle East, Europe, and America continue. For some reason, the news decided to become very quiet about the updates....Can you think of their reasoning?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday 2011 (Best Buy & Target)

Black Friday shoppers are ready to go

Black Friday Shopping....2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Occupy Portland: 4 hour-long rally and march from PSU includes arrest

New York Occupy 11-15-2011. Occupy New York 70 people arrested. Police T...

Protesters flood back to 'Occupy' NY park

Al Jazzera provides great videos.

Syria's 'bloodiest day' leaves scores dead

Syria's violence has increased, and has not stopped. Russia is providing the Syrian government (Assad) weapons. It is those that sell the weapons for violating human rights, are also the countries that support the violence, deaths, in spite of the international laws. These weapons are used for war crimes, and a large profit is made for the countries that supply the weapons. I call this blood money.

مسائية قرية الجرذي. 16/11/2011

Don't forget Syria. Does this look familiar? It is the same as occupy, at least in this video, but in a different language. They have not given up. The Syrian revolt has been ongoing for 8 months and the pressure is now on Assad, from the Arab League.

News Wrap: Up to 90 Reportedly Killed in Ongoing Syrian Violence

Let's not forget Syria.

Italy's new government sworn in

Profile: New Italian PM, Mario Monti

In English

Maurizio Crozza a Ballarò su Mario Monti, Governo, crisi 15 11 2011 - Ur...

In Italian, comedian

parlamento europeo benigni

This is in Italian for those who know Italian! It is great!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Occupy Toronto

occupied Phylli

Occupy Santa Fe: March To The Railyard. October 29, 2011

Some turn violent, some remain peaceful.

(Un) Occupy Albuquerque, UNM student Arrested

Occupy Denver video: Cops pepper-spray protesters, fire rubber bullets

Occupy Seattle 10/29/11

11 Arrested as Occupy San Francisco Marches on Wells Fargo Bank

Occupy Bend March (10.29.2011)

Occupy London: A Street level view: 'How clear are we all on what concen...

Oakland Policeman Throws Flash Grenade Into Crowd Trying To Help Injured...

Oct. 29th Occupy Amsterdam /Qeaux Qeaux Joans

Occupy Portland Protesters Arrested for Breaking Curfew in Jamison Square

#occupy bundestag 29.10.2011 berlin - schnellwaschgang

According to Occupy there are 2, 283 cities worldwide marching against the 1%.
Berlin is one of those cities. The voices of the people are speaking.

Keep Wall Street Occupied (Part 1)

This is a great idea! Do this!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Pal/Israeli Peace Project!

This is a great video from the "Hand in Hand" Palestinian/Israeli Children's Peace Project.
Step by Step, we move along, through understanding and knowledge of "the other"

What is Happening To Us? Chinese toddler crushed by traffic.flv

I posted this to help generate Global Awareness to this tragedy.

You will see people passing by the child laying in the middle of the street, going around the child and shop keepers continuing their work.
Is our society so bad that so many people cannot stop for a second to offer assistance to someone in need?
This little girl is now in critical condition, and will most likely be brain dead.
I pray for a complete recovery.

Shucking Corn--Clean Ears Everytime

In light of all the realities on this website, I thought I would share this video!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Occupy Rothschild, Tel Aviv, Israel. 15/10/11

Occupy brussel - 15 oktober 2011

Occupy the City London 2011

Occupy London 15 October 2011

Occupy Central ( Hong Kong) - The First Two Hours 佔領中環的首二小時

Occupy Hong Kong
15 October 2011
500 protesters gathered outside the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on the 15th and about 40 demonstrators slept overnight in a foyer beneath the Asian headquarters of HSBC Holdings Plc.
Armed with tents, bullhorns and a gas-powered generator used to help them recharge their laptops, the protesters occupied the public thoroughfare under the building as about a dozen police stood by.
the territory has experienced growing inequality, insecurity and poverty in recent decades, affecting the educated middle class as well and threatening the ‘Hong Kong Dream’ of increasing prosperity. The UN Development Programme, Hong Kong has the greatest income inequality of any country in the world.
There is a serious lack of affordable housing, with many households spending more than half their disposable income on rent or mortgage payments. People are also being crammed by landlords into unsuitable empty industrial buildings with hardly any living space and poor facilities.

spanish revolution- the people united will never be defeated

Puerta del sol, kilometro cero. Como en un acto de justicia poética... en el kilometro cero de España comienza la historia... La victoria, si la victoria, compañeros tiene nombre de mujer...será por eso que hay que buscarla, saber donde esta, ir en su búsqueda... qué movimiento más interesante... donde termina esto? eso es lo bonito de esto...cesar

Puerta del Sol 2011 Protests, Madrid #acampadasol M-20

Occupy Madrid 15-20th October 2011
Madrid started their protest on the 15th of October and continues. This video was taken a few minutes before midnight, when the protests were to be declared illegal by the Spanish government.

Thousands of people still occupy Madrid's main square, Puerta del Sol, after several days of protest about the government's poor political engagement with the electorate.

It is being referred to as the beginning of a movement in a country that has a youth unemployment rate of up to 45%.

Spain holds regional and municipal elections this Sunday, and campaigners want to be part of the political debate, saying their voices are not being heard.

The occupation of Madrid's Sol, and the centers of 50 other Spanish towns and cities.

5000+ people in front of european central bank EZB - 15.10.2011 #occupyf...

Occupy Frankfurt 15 October 2011
Occupy Frankfurt started with an estimated 200 protesters staking out tents and pickets around the giant Euro sign by the headquarters of the European Central Bank since the weekend. Their ranks swelled to an estimated 6,000. Critics can easily point to the ECB’s move to prop up ailing euro-zone lenders with liquidity and bond-buying operations as a sign that public money is being used to improve the lot of banks and bankers rather than regular citizens.

What are they upset about in Germany?

Consider a few statistics for youth unemployment, which at 9.7% for 2010 in Germany was among the lowest of more than 30 countries measured by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

In the U.S., the jobless rate for 15- to 24-year-olds during the same period was nearly twice as high at 18.4%, and reached 41.6% in Spain. What’s more, few young Germans are saddled by the kind of student loans and other debt often cited by US protesters as a source for their discontent.

German economic expectations fell to a three-year low in October on fears the euro-zone debt crisis is driving Europe’s largest economy into a recession.

Fight & Chaos: First video of 'Occupy Rome' rally turning violent

Occupy Rome Oct 15, 2011

It was one of the few violent outbursts as protests took to the streets in over 950 cities in 82 countries globally. As of 7 PM local time in London, police began cracking down on protesters in the UK capital.

Back in Rome, streets were largely deserted by 8 PM, after police used tear gas and violence against demonstrators after a handful of the Italian protesters, disgusted with the current economic situation facing the country, turned toward banks and local shops, destroying a number of shopfronts and wreaking havoc on the city.

Among the grievances facing Italians are high unemployment, political paralysis and 60 billion euros of austerity measures that have raised taxes and the cost of health care.

“We are struggling to find a way to survive,” added the young activist.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said he would have none of the protests. He said in a statement that those responsible for Saturday’s violence would be punished, calling the rioting “a very worrying sign for civil society … They must be condemned by everyone without reservation.”

Seventy were injured due to the violence, forty of those where police. Some Italians feel that there were people paid to start the violence to make the protesters look bad and justify the attacks on the activists.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Occupy Wall Street - Faces

Susan Brannon
12 October 2011
A photo series of different faces for the protests: New York

The Movement:  Occupy Wall St.
Occupy Together
Twitter: @occupywallst

Related Articles:
Making Sense of the Bank of America Mortgage Fraud
Making Sense of the Failing Economy and U.S. Downgrade
Debt Plan Fact Sheet
Our Tax Dollars at Work
Satellite View of Foreclosures
American Struggling Middle Class (Video)
Global Confidence in Economy Collapses 
Crime Against Humanity
Examples of US Financial Corruption
Presidential Candidates Response to Occupy Wall Street
One Example of Wall Street Corruption
Occupy Wall Street - Proposed/Unproposed List of Demands
What is Wall Street?

Occupy Wall Street - Arrests

Susan Brannon
12 October 2011
Occupy Wall Street Arrests

Unfortunately, the organization is not quite organized enough to maintain a list of those arrested during the Occupy Wall Street Protests throughout the country and provide numbers. I tried my best to get the "numbers" here is what I have found.

New York - Sept 20th 7
New York - Sept 24th 80
New York - Sept 25th "dozens" at least 50
New York - Oct 1, More than 700
New York - Oct 6, 28

There are some great images out there:

The Movement:  Occupy Wall St.
Occupy Together
Twitter: @occupywallst

Related Articles:
Making Sense of the Bank of America Mortgage Fraud
Making Sense of the Failing Economy and U.S. Downgrade
Debt Plan Fact Sheet
Our Tax Dollars at Work
Satellite View of Foreclosures
American Struggling Middle Class (Video)
Global Confidence in Economy Collapses 
Crime Against Humanity
Examples of US Financial Corruption
Presidential Candidates Response to Occupy Wall Street
One Example of Wall Street Corruption
Occupy Wall Street - Proposed/Unproposed List of Demands
What is Wall Street?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Justice Department Request Information for WikiLeaks Volunteer

Susan Brannon
10 October 2011
Google, the email giant has been forced to release email information of the WikiLeaks volunteer's to the U.S. Justice Department. Another email company, Sonic fought the order that was issued on January 4, 2001 but lost the case.  Sonic felt that they did the right thing, in spite of the high cost to fight the request. At this time, it is unclear if Google, fought the request, or compiled.

The US government requested login IPs and the IPs of those that the WikiLeaks communicated with, as well as their email addresses.  They requested information dating back to November 1, 2009.

Unfortunately, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, dating back to 1986 is questionable to the seizures of private communications.  The Act was introduced three years before the world wide web was born.  Both Google and Microsoft are trying to fight for a reform of the law.  The law makes it easier for the government to access emails that the postal mail. 

Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks has already warned the U.S. citizens that Facebook, Yahoo and Google account information is quite accessible to government officials.

1) The government do not need a search warrant, they do not need not need to show probable cause, but on reasonable grounds and the emails could contain relevant and material to an investigation.

2) They email providers are prohibited from notifying that the emails have been searched or seized. 

In the last six months of 2010, Google received 4,601 requests for data and they complied with 94% of the requests.  Google has a transparency report on their website. (Transparency Report

The request for email was for an Applelbaum who is a Tor Project programmer, that helps keep identities protected on the Internet.  His friends have had their laptops and cell phones temporarily seized.  The Justice Department wants to know who Appelbaum has corresponded with which they feel would be more useful.

On October 7th, the White House released and executive order to fight federal employee leaks of private information is an Insider Threat Task Force. The insider Threat Task Force, is lead by Attorney General Eric Holder  and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

Occupy Wall Street-Demands

Susan Brannon
11 October 2011

The mainstream news seems to be a bit confused about the Occupy Wall Street demands.  Although there is not a physical list of demands, the voice is clear.  I just can't understand why FOX news can't get it.  In response, I decided to put images of the signs during the protests.  Yes, the signs do have words on them, which generate a voice, by the people for the people.  I don't think that it is too difficult to figure out.  FOX,...why don't you hire me to do your research or go out in the field and figure it out for you?  (I don't have a job)
Have fun reading!

The Movement:  Occupy Wall St.
Occupy Together
Twitter: @occupywallst
Related Articles:

Examples of US Financial Corruption
Presidential Candidates Response to Occupy Wall Street
One Example of Wall Street Corruption
Occupy Wall Street - Proposed/Unproposed List of Demands
What is Wall Street?
Making Sense of the Bank of America Mortgage Fraud
Making Sense of the Failing Economy and U.S. Downgrade
Debt Plan Fact Sheet
Our Tax Dollars at Work
Satellite View of Foreclosures
American Struggling Middle Class (Video)
Global Confidence in Economy Collapses 
Crime Against Humanity