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Posts tagged ‘worker’

Work Hard, Go To Jail

Gabriel –

Diane Tran has a lot on her plate for a 17-year-old. After Diane’s parents moved away, Diane stayed behind and started working two jobs to provide for her family — all while taking college-level classes at her high school. But when Diane recently missed school due to exhaustion, she was charged with a crime and sentenced to pay a $100 fine and spend a night in jail.

Diane’s classmate, Devin, told reporters that between a full-time job, a part-time job, and making the honor roll, it’s no wonder Diane was tired. “She stays up until 7 in the morning doing her homework,” Devin says.

Judge Lanny Moriarty didn’t have to sentence Diane to a night in jail, but he wanted to make an example of her. “If you let one of them run loose, what are you going to do with the rest of them?” Judge Moriarty told reporters. “A little stay in the jail for one night is not a death sentence.”

Samuel Oh thinks working hard to provide for your family should not be cause for criminal punishment — so Samuel started a petition on Change.org asking Judge Moriarty to revoke the charges against Diane. Click here to add your name.

“Somehow Diane is not just an extraordinary worker and student, she’s an extraordinary human being with a fighting spirit,” Samuel says. “The institutions that are supposed to provide resources to youth and ensure justice are punishing her instead.”

There is some good news: when a reporter recently asked Judge Moriarty if anything could be done to get him to revoke Diane’s charges, he replied, “Yeah, it probably could.”

Samuel believes that if thousands of people sign his petition, Judge Moriarty will take this opportunity to do the right thing and revoke Diane’s charges.

Click here to sign Samuel’s petition asking Judge Moriarty to revoke the charges against Diane Tran, an honors student who had to spend the night in jail for missing school.

Thanks for being a change-maker,

– Jon and the Change.org team

Jobs and Justice

From Nation of Change
by Andrés Velasco, a former finance minister of Chile, is a visiting professor at Columbia University for 2011-2012.

Jobs for Justice

“Do you feel it trickle down?” ask the protesters occupying Wall Street and parts of financial districts from London to San Francisco. They are not alone in their anxiety. Income inequality is a top concern not only in tent cities across the United States, but also among street protesters in Taipei, Tel Aviv, Cairo, Athens, Madrid, Santiago, and elsewhere.

Inequality almost everywhere, including China, has become so extreme that it must be reduced. Protesters, experts, and center-left politicians agree on this – and on little else. The debate about inequality’s causes is complex and often messy; the debate about how to address it is messier still.

In the rich countries of the global north, the widening gap between rich and poor results from technological change, globalization, and the misdeeds of investment bankers. In the not-so-rich countries of the south, much inequality is the consequence of a more old-fashioned problem: lack of employment opportunities for the poor.

“Follow Project Syndicate on Facebook or Twitter. For more from Andrés Velasco, click here.”

In a forthcoming book, University of Chile economist Cristóbal Huneeus and I examine the roots of inequality in Chile and elsewhere in Latin America and come away with three policy prescriptions: jobs, jobs, jobs. In the last quarter-century, Chile managed to consolidate democracy, triple per capita income, and achieve the highest living standards in Latin America, with near-universal coverage in health care, education, and old-age pensions. Yet the gap in the labor incomes of rich and poor has barely budged.

In Chile and elsewhere, discussions of inequality tend to focus on how much people earn. According to national household surveys, a Chilean worker earning the minimum wage takes home $300 a month, while a professional in the top 10% of the income scale typically makes about $2,400 dollars a month. But that eight-fold gap is only the tip of the inequality iceberg.

It also turns out that the poor worker lives in a household where only 0.5 people on average have a job, so that two families are needed for one steady source of income. By contrast, in the upscale professional’s household, nearly two people on average hold down a job.

Add to this several other differences – above all, poorer families’ higher fertility rates – and the sums reveal that the top 10% of households actually make 78 times more (on a per capita basis) than those at the bottom. That is the kind of figure that keeps Chile ranked high globally in terms of inequality, despite the country’s other achievements.

Put differently: not only take-home pay, but also employment opportunities can be unequally distributed. Compound the two problems and you have world-class income disparities. Chile is hardly alone in this category. South Africa, another country that is proud of its exemplary transition to democracy, suffers from the same problem in an even more extreme version. And, within Latin America, Colombia and Brazil, among others, face a similar combination of low employment and high inequality.

The main victims of this state of affairs are women and the young, for whom employment ratios are much lower than for the population as a whole. A typical poor household in Chile and elsewhere in Latin America is headed by a woman with only primary-school education. She has small children, limited access to day care, and few job opportunities.

That is the bad news – and it is very bad news indeed. The good news is that reducing inequality by creating jobs for the poor may prove to be faster than altering the entire structure of wages. Over the medium term, wages depend on productivity, which in turn depends crucially on higher-quality education and training for the poor, which Latin American countries certainly need. Indeed, a heated national debate about how to improve education has seized Chile for much of the past year.

Read entire story at Nation of Change

As Precious As Gold – Part 2

Conclusion of excerpt from collection of children’s stories Solar Girl and Lunar Boy.

What did they have to lose? Their bodies would soon turn into dirt without some rain.

The ants began to whisper, “Who will lead us?”

A unified cry arose from the crowd, “Mosha! Mosha!”

The queens arose and selected Mosha without dissent. After all, was it not she who brought them together and was not Mount Kilimanjaro in her own backyard?

Mosha was scared. As a worker ant she had always followed, now she must lead. She finally stepped forward and exclaimed, “It’s breath or death!”

Mosha’s first action was to have the workers construct a road up the mountain. Then she had two quad-trillion soldiers link their bodies into one long rope leading up the road. The remaining Formicidae carefully climbed the road by walking on the back of the living ant-rope.

Straining with every step of their many legs, they crawled to the peak of the mountain and collapsed from exhaustion and lack of oxygen.

The dark cloud was still floating quietly above.

Mosha was almost dead from thirst. With her last bit of strength she urged them on. “Stand up! Don’t give up! We must breathe together, now!”

Upon hearing Mosha’s plea the ants arose. They quietly began to inhale and exhale.

At first their tiny puffs of air were like a trickling stream. But they didn’t stop. Within minutes the force of their breathing turned into a river of wind and the river quickly became a mighty sea of air pulsating through the cloud.

Now the breath of one tiny ant is nothing. But 8 quadrillion (8,000,000,000,000,000) ants breathing in and out together began to change that strange cloud.

As the ants finally fell still upon the rocks gasping, Mosha saw the cloud take a long deep breath, turn black as night and with a heavy sigh, it began to cry.

The cloud’s tears fell softly upon the mountain. As drops splattered their bruised and battered bodies the Formicidae screamed with excitement and scurried from one antenna to another, dancing in amazement! To see ants scream and dance is an awesome sight. Never before and never again, have they exhibited such behavior.

The lowly Formicidae, one of the smallest creatures on earth, had literally saved the world from becoming a gigantic dust bowl. And though ants aren’t known for boasting or bragging, they gave Mosha a hero’s welcome when she descended the mountain and crawled back to the plains of her birth.

From that day on, ants have treasured their water (H2O) resources. They know only too well that clean, pure water is more precious than gold.

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As Precious As Gold – Part 1

Excerpt from children’s story collection Solar Girl and Lunar Boy.

The drought had lasted many moons. Life’s energy on earth was slipping away. Mammals, reptiles and fish had perished in silent misery.

Plants, grass and trees were nothing more than brittle, gray, useless matter. Every source of water was bone dry. Ponds, rivers, streams, lakes, glaciers and snow had all evaporated in the sun’s scorching heat without the slightest whimper of protest.

Insects were the only creatures to survive. The most numerous and efficient of the insects were from the Formicidae (Form-a-ka-day) family – more commonly known as ANTS.

With over 15,000,000,000,000,000 (15 quadrillion) members and “at least” 4,000 different species; the ants continued to eke out a living.

Ants stick together come low or high water. They live in groups called colonies. Each ant has a specific job as a queen, soldier or worker. The queens lay eggs; the soldiers kidnap other ants; and the workers make the nests and bring home the food. Most live and die as workers.

As the drought continued the Formicidae’s (ants) old methods of obtaining food began to fail. Normally a few scouts would discover a food source and lay down “odor” or “smell” trails for the workers to follow. Others would eat the food they found, return to the nest and proudly throw-up to show they had discovered a feast for the entire family.

One day some of the queen ants began to notice that many of the male workers were not returning from food expeditions.

Ants, as you know, are very sensitive to changes in moisture. After tasting some of the soil the queens realized what was happening. The ground water was slowly disappearing. The missing ants must have died of thirst. Drastic action had to be taken or they would soon perish!

As the queens cried about their fate, a small worker ant, known as Mosha, timidly raised her voice and said, “We can’t solve this alone. Why don’t we get all the colonies together?”

What an incredible idea! No one had ever dreamed of such a thing. The queens instantly agreed and sent an urgent decree for all Formicidae to meet on the Serengeti Plain in East Africa.

It wasn’t long until ant colonies from all corners of the globe began to arrive.

Some made the treacherous journey floating on wooden logs across the sea. Others glided with the breeze on leaves they had bound by silk. Long columns were seen marching across the barren land in an array of bright colors and sizes.

If you looked closely you could see Sauba ants from South America and Red and Wood ants from North America. Running from India, came Sima rufo-nigra colonies. From Australia and Tasmania swarmed Bull-dog and Myrmecia Formicidae. Hawaii sent l. Falcigera families floating on gusts of wind. Java displayed Dicthadia tribes, and eastern Asia had Oecophylla smarogdima coming by the thousands.

In the midst of this historic event were the Africans. Algeria and Tunisia sent Messor’s. South Africa had a large Honey-tub contingent and African Driver ants were everywhere.

What a sight! The entire Serengeti Plain was brimming with over 15 quadrillion ants! It looked as if a soft, reddish-brown carpet had been laid out from one end to the other. Even more amazing was the fact that not one incident of violence or kidnapping was reported.

The ants had agreed upon a peace treaty for the first time. Up until the drought the colonies had often fought one another and embarked on frequent slave raids. Most reported “battles” between Formicidae are actually raids to obtain additional larvae (baby ants) to increase that colonies work force.

As the Ants United Nations of Tribes (A.U.N.T.) began to meet, a humongous, dark, enchanting cloud arose over Mount Kilimanjaro (the highest mountain in Africa).

At first the ants were scared. It was so big its shadow covered the entire Serengeti Plain with darkness. Their fear quickly turned to happiness when they realized this cloud could end the long drought.

After two long, cold days of anticipation it became clear that this cloud was not heavy enough to drop the life-giving rain that was so needed, even though it was their last hope. Time was running out.

How could they convince this rainmaker to drop its precious cargo? They tried talking to the cloud. It didn’t budge. They yelled, screamed and begged for it to release its water, but it didn’t seem to care. Even ancient rain songs wouldn’t budge its frozen heart.

Putting their antennas’ together, Mosha and the other ants came up with a daring plan. If enough of them could make it to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro alive and breath heavily upon the cloud, perhaps that would create the moisture (condensation) it needed to release the rain it held so tightly.

CONTINUED TOMORROW

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