1. The average household already spends about $90 a month for cable or satellite TV, and nearly half of that amount pays for the sports channels packaged into most services.

    […]

    The obvious answer, of course, is to offer channels on an a la carte basis—or perhaps on a semi-a la carte basis—but both the content providers and the cable companies fight this tooth and nail. Here’s the excuse:

    National and local sports networks typically require cable and satellite companies to make their channels available to all customers….The idea of offering channels on an “a la carte” basis used to be sacrilege to the industry. Executives argued it would not lower prices because networks would just charge more to make up for the loss of subscribers.

    You know what? That’s exactly what would happen. People would start to understand just how much they’re paying for sports programming and they’d be appalled. Many wouldn’t subscribe, and sports fans would be forced to pay the actual cost of their sports programming without being subsidized by the rest of us. This is exactly how it should be. There’s no reason that, for all practical purposes, every single person in the LA area should be forced to pay a tax to the Lakers and Dodgers even if they don’t care about basketball and baseball.

     
  2. image: Download

    theyoungturks:

Median Food Service Wage

Want to know what the living wage would be in your area? MIT has a living wage calculator that lists the typical expenses, typical wages, and living wages for many cities and counties across the U.S.

    theyoungturks:

    Median Food Service Wage

    Want to know what the living wage would be in your area? MIT has a living wage calculator that lists the typical expenses, typical wages, and living wages for many cities and counties across the U.S.

     
  3. Some highlights from a recently published report about domestic workers:

    • 94% of domestic workers are women.
    • 23 percent of workers are paid below the state minimum wage.*
    • Undocumented domestic workers are paid about 20% less than those who are U.S. citizens.
    • 66% of all those surveyed reported working while sick, injured or in pain. 56% of U.S.-born domestic workers and 77% of undocumented domestic workers reported working under such conditions.
    • Workers of color make up 54% of the domestic workforce.
    • The median wage for white caregivers is $12/hour; that of black and Latino caregivers is $10/hour; and $8.33 for Asian caregivers. (The exception is black nannies, who make an average $12.71/hour as opposed to $12.51 for white nannies.)
     
  4. On money for education versus money for war

    cognitivedissonance:

    Rebloggable by request:

    did cutting pell grant funding REALLY save money? isn’t education like. the Very Best Investment?

     sosungalittleclodofclay

    Meg at Cognitive Dissonance:

    You’d think that. Let’s get a little perspective. From FY2001 to the end of FY2012, taxpayers spent $1.4 trillion on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. That’s $1,400,000,000,000. If you were to pile all those dollar bills and stick it on a scale, it would be about 1,543,235 tons. Or about 289 Chevy Silverado pickup trucks.

    That’s pretty heavy.

    You know what else is pretty heavy? Thinking about what we could have gotten for that money instead. Check it out:

    • 634.6 million Annual Energy Costs for a Household for One Year OR
    • 706.5 million Children Receiving Low-Income Healthcare for One Year OR
    • 20.3 million Elementary School Teachers for One Year OR
    • 133.4 million Fair Market Rent for One Bedroom Apartment for One Year OR
    • 181.3 million Head Start Slots for Children for One Year OR
    • 594.5 million Households Converted to All Solar Energy for One Year OR
    • 1.2 billion Households Converted to All Wind Energy for One Year OR
    • 176.7 million Military Veterans Receiving VA Medical Care for One Year OR
    • 658.5 million One Year Worth of Groceries for an Individual OR
    • 283.5 million People Receiving Low-Income Healthcare for One Year OR
    • 19.8 million Police or Sheriff’s Patrol Officers for One Year OR
    • 174.8 million Scholarships for University Students for One Year OR
    • 248.3 million Students receiving Pell Grants of $5550

    You might say, “But that’s all the war spending! That’s not fair!” Here’s a few other comparisons. First, U.S. Defense spending for FY2012. That’s $544.3 billion. Here’s what we could get instead:

    • 279.0 million Children Receiving Low-Income Healthcare for One Year OR
    • 8.0 million Elementary School Teachers for One Year OR
    • 71.6 million Head Start Slots for Children for One Year OR
    • 234.8 million Households with Renewable Electricity - Solar Photovoltaic for One Year OR
    • 493.0 million Households with Renewable Electricity-Wind Power for One Year OR
    • 69.8 million Military Veterans Receiving VA Medical Care for One Year OR
    • 111.9 million People Receiving Low-Income Healthcare for One Year OR
    • 7.8 million Police or Sheriff’s Patrol Officers for One Year OR
    • 69.0 million Scholarships for University Students for One Year
    • OR 98.1 million Students receiving Pell Grants of $5550

    Oh, but we need defense spending, right? Let’s examine weaponry. From 2001-2011, the U.S. fired over 11,000 Hellfire missiles in combat operations — keep in mind, this doesn’t count non-combat operations or testing. Each Hellfire costs roughly $68,000. That’s $748 million, or one year of full, $5,500 Pell Grants for 136,000 students.

    Each F-16 Falcon Fighter costs $47 million. Or, 8,545 students could have Pell Grants of $5,550 for one year.

    Each soldier in Afghanistan costs roughly $1.2 million per year. For that, we could give 218 students a full Pell Grant.

    It’s not a question of cost. It’s a question of priorities. In FY2012, we spent $33.4 billion on Pell Grants — or six percent of the Department of Defense’s FY2012 budget.

    But there’s always money for war, right? 

    Cheers,

    Meg

    And let’s not forget that a lot of people sign up for military service because they have no other way to fund a college education.

     
  5. The important thing to understand now is that while the election is over, the class war isn’t. The same people who bet big on Mr. Romney, and lost, are now trying to win by stealth — in the name of fiscal responsibility — the ground they failed to gain in an open election.

    […]

    Consider, as a prime example, the push to raise the retirement age, the age of eligibility for Medicare, or both. This is only reasonable, we’re told — after all, life expectancy has risen, so shouldn’t we all retire later? In reality, however, it would be a hugely regressive policy change, imposing severe burdens on lower- and middle-income Americans while barely affecting the wealthy. Why? First of all, the increase in life expectancy is concentrated among the affluent; why should janitors have to retire later because lawyers are living longer? Second, both Social Security and Medicare are much more important, relative to income, to less-affluent Americans, so delaying their availability would be a far more severe hit to ordinary families than to the top 1 percent.

    Or take a subtler example, the insistence that any revenue increases should come from limiting deductions rather than from higher tax rates. The key thing to realize here is that the math just doesn’t work; there is, in fact, no way limits on deductions can raise as much revenue from the wealthy as you can get simply by letting the relevant parts of the Bush-era tax cuts expire. So any proposal to avoid a rate increase is, whatever its proponents may say, a proposal that we let the 1 percent off the hook and shift the burden, one way or another, to the middle class or the poor.

    The point is that the class war is still on, this time with an added dose of deception. And this, in turn, means that you need to look very closely at any proposals coming from the usual suspects, even — or rather especially — if the proposal is being represented as a bipartisan, common-sense solution. In particular, whenever some deficit-scold group talks about “shared sacrifice,” you need to ask, sacrifice relative to what?

    — Paul Krugman, Class Wars of 2012
     
  6. For anyone else who was subject to bajillions of emails from the Obama campaign. It looks like guilt-tripping us worked:

    • No. 1: “I will be outspent” brought in $2,540,866. 
    • No. 2: “Some scary numbers” got $1,941,379 in donations.
    • No. 3: “If you believe in what we’re doing…” pulled in $911,806.

    Another revelation? People love cussing. “Hell yeah, I like Obamacare” performed well.

     
  7. Statistics from South Carolina highlight the lottery’s reliance on low earners: people in households earning under $40,000 made up 54 percent of frequent players, while constituting only 28 percent of the state’s population. Meanwhile, a PBS report earlier this year showed that, for America’s very poorest, the lottery is a heavy expenditure: Households that earn at most $13,000 a year spend 9 percent of their money on lottery tickets.
    — Natasha Lennard at Salon explains the lottery’s dark side.  (via theweekmagazine)
     
  8. image: Download

    think-progress:

We’re thankful for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB, created by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, has been working on new rules to protect Americans from predatory lenders, bogus credit card deals, and shady mortgage peddlers. It has also won American consumers hundreds of millions of dollars in refunds for credit card scams.
See nine more things that progressives can be thankful for this Thanksgiving here.

    think-progress:

    We’re thankful for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB, created by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, has been working on new rules to protect Americans from predatory lenders, bogus credit card deals, and shady mortgage peddlers. It has also won American consumers hundreds of millions of dollars in refunds for credit card scams.

    See nine more things that progressives can be thankful for this Thanksgiving here.

     
  9. How to always have exact change

    A good tip from Lifehacker—always have the following coins with you:

    • 3 quarters
    • 1 dime
    • 2 nickels
    • 4 pennies

    This is supposedly the least amount of coins you can carry that will enable you to give exact change in most situations. A good way to start spending that pile of change that might be sitting in a jar at home (especially if you’re lazy like me and keep forgetting to bring it to the bank or a CoinStar machine).

     
  10. What does $40 mean to you?

    To break down the payroll tax cut and the repercussions of the stalemate into simpler terms, the White House took to Twitter and asked the masses what $40 meant to them and came away with sad snapshots of American life in 2011. $40 is “what officials estimate the average American would lose from his or her paycheck every two weeks, starting in January without an agreement on an extension of the tax cut. The $40 is based on someone earning about $50,000 a year and paying about $1,000 more in taxes annually,” writes Jennifer Preston of The New York Times. The White House sent a tweet two days ago asking America about that $40 (right), and have posted, what seems to be the most heart-breaking collection stories on its blog.

    A reminder that the debate over the payroll tax cut has real, serious consequences for many people in this country:

    $40.00 a week will provide gas to get to work for the week, or, it will pay our electric bill, or, it will pay a third of our prescription drug bill, or, one third of our grocery bill for the week.

    C.W., Glen Alen, Virginia

    After everything that comes out, including my mortgage my take home pay is $150.00 every two weeks. So minus forty would be $110.00. I can barely get by now, that forty bucks is my gas for my car to get to work. Taking forty away from my pay would, just about put me under.

    R.T., Charleston, West Virginia

    $40 less a paycheck means I will have to pick between my insulin and the water bill. It means never being able to see my doctor - even though I have insurance.

    B.T., Roswell, New Mexico

    (Source: theatlanticwire.com)

     
  11. (Source: )

     
  12. Who really killed the Protestant ethic

    The old Calvinist idea about money…was that hard work, discipline, and prudence were moral virtues….that are more likely than not to lead to personal prosperity. So prosperity shouldn’t be stigmatized as ignoble, it should be rather seen as something likely to flow from virtuous behavior. But this equation assumes that morally speaking what matters is the hard work, the discipline, and the prudence. Cutting corners, lying, cheating, or stealing to make a quick buck doesn’t fit the bill. Earning a multi-million dollar salary to deliver below-average performance as the CEO of a firm and then take a multi-million dollar golden parachute when you get sacked doesn’t fit the bill. Spending your days and nights dreaming up smart regulatory arbitrage schemes doesn’t fit the bill.

    …[T]the idea is aloft that business executives actually have a moral obligation to spend their days finding ways to engage in profit-maximizing rent-seeking and loophole exploiting. This kind of “you should make as much money as possible through any legal means necessary” spirit is toxic to the kind of ethos that’s made the various forms of modern industrial capitalism successful….to have a culture that valorizes hard work you need to actually valorize hard work not just money-making.

    My emphasis

    (Source: thinkprogress.org)

     
  13. image: Download

    A new website by the folks behind The National Priorities Project tracks the costs of Bush-era tax cuts.

    A new website by the folks behind The National Priorities Project tracks the costs of Bush-era tax cuts.

     
  14. If only!

    If only!

     
  15. image: Download

    A calculator that gives you a better grasp of the magnitude of federal spending on the military. You can plug in your city, town, or county in order to get estimates of how much your area contributes and what that money could have bought instead.
It’s incredible. Can you imagine what things would be like if we poured as much money into our own country as we did on the war and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq? But, of course, spending money on Pell Grants, public school teachers, housing, and healthcare doesn’t make billionaires even richer.

    A calculator that gives you a better grasp of the magnitude of federal spending on the military. You can plug in your city, town, or county in order to get estimates of how much your area contributes and what that money could have bought instead.

    It’s incredible. Can you imagine what things would be like if we poured as much money into our own country as we did on the war and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq? But, of course, spending money on Pell Grants, public school teachers, housing, and healthcare doesn’t make billionaires even richer.