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Weekly Digest – 12/28/12

Our weekly edition is a nationally syndicated one-hour digest of the best of our daily coverage.

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This week on Uprising:

* Easy Solutions to Fixing the Economic Crisis: Really Tax the Rich
* Political Economist Robert Pollin Makes the Case for Full Employment
* Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America’s Prison Nation

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Easy Solutions to Fixing the Economic Crisis: Really Tax the Rich

As the deadline for the so-called fiscal cliff cuts comes and goes, we’ll take a look today at some of the ways in which our tax structure is rigged to benefit the super-rich and what some simple solutions are that lawmakers hardly ever consider, to fixing it.

Ninety percent of Americans within our current regressive tax system actually pay higher payroll tax rates than top earners, specifically, 6.2%. Those making over a cap of $110,100 pay lower payroll taxes on their excess earnings – for example, someone making $5 million a year pays an effective rate of only 0.1%. Democrats want to see the $110,100 payroll tax cap increased to $250,000 but Republicans are adamantly against it.

In light of the on-going discussions over taxing the rich, Huffington Post blogger, Chris Weigant recently published an analysis entitled, “If We’re Going to Tax the Rich, Then Let’s Tax the Rich” which provides simple and obvious solutions that are not even being discussed by law makers or most of the media. Making the case of “how timid the proposals currently being discussed truly are,” Weigant breaks down the existing disproportionate tax rates Americans of different incomes pay, the various income caps, and the Alternate Minimum Tax – all of which serve to enrich the rich and impoverish the rest of us.

Weigant also offers up such specific ideas as capping deductions at $250,000 which would only affect wealthy folks, creating new tax brackets relevant to today’s economy, and implementing the same tax rate for all forms of income regardless of whether it’s from a salary or from capital gains and dividends.

GUEST: Chris Weigant, Huffington Post blogger, author of How Democrats Can Take Back Congress, published under the pseudonym of Tom Paine. Chris also blogs at www.chrisweigant.com

Click here to read Weigant’s article about tax structures and how to fix them.

Political Economist Robert Pollin Makes the Case for Full Employment

Labor Department statistics released in early December showed slight improvement in the economic outlook for the month of November with 146,000 new jobs created. The official rate of unemployment, which does not include those who have given up looking for work, fell two tenths of a percent, from 7.9 to 7.7 percent. The total rate of unemployment consequently fell to 14.4%.

While the effects of Superstorm Sandy on these statistics have been hotly debated by economists, few economists tend to discuss the standard paradigm of job creation in the US overall. Now more than 4 years into a devastating recession, the idea of “full employment” as implemented by the federal government, has yet to re-enter the punditry’s list of talking points.

One political economist and author, Robert Pollin, aims to insert the topic into the dialogue around unemployment and the economy with his new book, simply titled “Back to Full Employment.” Drawing back to the 1930s era of the Great Depression and the response by FDR’s administration, Pollin makes the case that not only is it possible for the government to achieve full employment in the nation, but that it is a moral imperative.

Pollin also traces how the principles of Keynesian economics whose central goal was full employment, have given way to the neoliberal economic model espoused by market fundamentalists over the past 20 years. In his view, the goal of building a new, green infrastructure nationwide can bring the US closer than ever to the task of employment for all, or nearly all.

GUEST: Robert Pollin, Professor of Economics and Co-Director of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and author of Back to Full Employment. His earlier book is Contours of Descent: U.S. Economic Fractures and the Landscape of Global Austerity

Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America’s Prison Nation

Disturbing comments made recently by Fox News host Dana Perino that women who are domestically abused should “make better decisions” were in response to the killing of 22 year old Kasandra Perkins, an African American woman, who was gunned down by her boyfriend, the NFL player Jovan Belcher.

Wisconsin Democratic Senator Gwen Moore reacted to the comments by tweeting: “As someone that has survived sexual assault I can say that violence is not the victim’s fault.” Perkins’ death adds to the increasing numbers of African American women who are victims of violence. Not only are African American women at greater risk for being violently abused they are also incarcerated at a rate that is three times higher than White women.

Now a compelling new book by Beth Richie called, Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence and America’s Prison Nation focuses on the oppression of impoverished black women by a white male dominated power structure.

Richie, a seasoned Black feminist scholar, has spent the last 25 years working to stop violence against poor women. Her work addresses what she feels is the lack of attention paid to this disenfranchised group from the mainstream white feminist anti-violence movement which often overlooks factors like race, class and gender.

Richie specifically analyzes how institutional racism feeds African American women into the prison system by relating three powerful stories of violence against black women. The stories illustrate how these women remain the most vulnerable members of a society which conspires to portray them as criminals.

GUEST: Beth Richie, a Professor of African American Studies and Criminology, Law and Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago, author of Arrested Justice, Black Women, Violence, and America’s Prison Nation. She is also the Director of the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy. Her earlier book is called Compelled to Crime: The Gender Entrapment of Battered Black Women

Sonali’s Subversive Thought for the Day

“Justice demands integrity. It’s to have a moral universe — not only know what is right or wrong but to put things in perspective, weigh things. Justice is different from violence and retribution; it requires complex accounting.” — bell hooks