The Century Institute, an initiative of The Century Foundation, is committed to engaging youth in the political progress by connecting them with progressive policy ideas. Each year we place interns with small, NYC-based nonprofits where they will have a pivotal role in the development of policy related projects. This is a collection of their work.
Benjamin Landy’s Graph of the Day, “Has the Decline of Unions Made America Less Equal?” looks at data from a recent study by Bruce Western and Jake Rosenfeld that shows income inequality today would be 20 percent lower if union density had remained.
In a provocative New York Times op-ed, Warren Buffett suggested that the government immediately raise taxes on Americans making more than $1 million—and even more so on those making in excess of $10 million. This set off a firestorm of criticism from conservatives, who said that this would “only” generate at most $73 billion in new revenue. The Century Foundation’s Benjamin Landy looks at what could be accomplished with $73 billion.
Finally someone in government has realized how important training and education is to solving our unemployment problems and the economic recession. The U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee published a report that examines long-term unemployment due to the recession and the role that workforce training can play in alleviating this problem. Currently, 42 percent of today’s 14.4 million unemployed Americans find themselves jobless and actively seeking work for at least six months, and 72 percent of those are deemed very-long-term unemployed (searching for work for at least one year). Although all demographics and industry sectors have witnessed such long-term unemployment, the Committee found that older workers, those with only a high-school degree, construction workers, and African-American workers have faced disproportionately high rates of long-term unemployment. “Addressing Long-Term Unemployment After The Great Recession: The Crucial Role Of Workforce Training” concludes that policymakers will need to simultaneously spur job creation while also investing in education and training programs that can prepare workers for new employment opportunities that will arise in the aftermath of the recovery, as well as help bridge the current mismatch between the skills employers are looking for and the skills potential employees present. This is a direct response to increasing reports of employers expressing difficulty finding skilled workers for key positions, despite the high ratio of unemployed workers to job openings.
—- Angelina Garneva, NYCETC intern
By Sarah M. Aoun
With a United Nations vote on Palestinian statehood looming in September, international pressure has been building on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In recent weeks however, a new and internal threat has emerged to challenge the Israeli PM. Since July, thousands of Israelis have been protesting against the rising cost of housing in Tel Aviv and its outskirts, putting an unaccustomed domestic spotlight on the settlement enterprise in occupied territories that has so drained Israeli resources.
While protestors — in what has been considered Israel’s largest demonstrations on any issue in over a decade — criticize what they consider to be the government’s indifference to the incredibly high cost of living, this does not seem to be the case in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. There, government subsidies of Israeli settlements offer economic incentives difficult to refuse.
Indeed, over the past several decades, the Israeli government has adopted an encouraging policy towards population shift and settlement building – globally considered to be a violation of international law. This investment across the Green Line has been intended to, and undoubtedly succeeded in, leading to an exponential settlement growth.
Settlements have been one of the most urgent and worrying elements of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since 1967. Over the past 35 years, more than 500,000 Israelis have made their homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, with leaders of the settler movement aiming to dash hopes of making these territories the core of a future Palestinian state.
The continuing building of these homes has also spurred a number of violent clashes over the years between Israeli settlers and the Palestinians living in these areas for centuries. According to statistics collected by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs occupied Palestinian territory (OCHAoPt), the majority of these attacks have been undertaken by the settlers. They have left mostly Palestinian children, women, and elderly severely injured, and some even dead.
According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Israeli government is supposed to provide protection to the people whose land it is occupying. However, it is evident that no serious measures have been taken by the government to address this issue, as is shown by the stagnant and even at times increasing number of attacks against Palestinian civilians.
The never-ending settlement growth has repeatedly exacerbated the Palestinians, and has reaffirmed their determination to take their plea to the UN and request a compliance with the pre-1967 borders. On the other side, it keeps fueling protestors’ dissatisfaction with the policies East of the Green Line, where the government spends twice as much on a settler as on another Israeli according to a recent study by the Adva Center.
It does not come as surprise then that over 15 percent of the public construction budget is used to expanding West Bank settlement, which are home to only 4 percent of Israeli citizens, according to a report published by the activist group Peace Now.
It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the settlement enterprise undertaken by the Israeli government has become a fundamental driver of both the Palestinian’s UN call for statehood and the recent protests in Israel. This has not, however, deterred Netanyahu from recently approving the construction of an additional 4,300 homes in East Jerusalem.
However, as seen by the internal and external pressure he faces, it is not only the Israeli PM, but Israel itself, that will continue to deal the repercussions of decades-long policies that have favored maintaining the occupation and developing settlements over the interests of the broader population – until the demands of the protestors are met and priorities are re-evaluated.
Here is a NYT great op-ed by Warren Buffet, the chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, on the injustice of the tax system. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.
-Sara Aoun, TCF intern
New York Times