The US government has spent trillions of dollars on wars.
“The Afghanistan war, the longest overseas conflict in American history, has cost the US taxpayer nearly $1tn and will require spending several hundred billion dollars more after it officially ends this month, according to Financial Times calculations and independent researchers.”
“The U.S. war in Iraq has cost $1.7 trillion with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans, expenses that could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades counting interest.”
A Vietnam veteran was found dead in his home after his heat was shut off.
“Consumers Energy has been ordered to file a report by March 31 after a Vietnam veteran died of hypothermia in his home after the heat was shut off.”
“John Skelley, 69, was found wrapped in blankets and unresponsive in his home in Hazel Park, Mich.”
Some schools in the US are now asking parents to buy toilet paper.
“Pre-kindergartners in the Joshua school district in Texas have to track down Dixie cups and paper plates, while students at New Central Elementary in Havana, Ill., and Mesa Middle School in Castle Rock, Colo., must come to class with a pack of printer paper. Wet Swiffer refills and plastic cutlery are among the requests from St. Joseph School in Seattle. And at Pauoa Elementary School in Honolulu, every student must show up with a four-pack of toilet paper.”
Supply list for Pauoa Elementary School:
Louis Taylor spent 40 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.
“I did 41 years of my life for something I didn’t do,” he said. “It was shameful, shameful what they did to me.”
“Taylor will celebrate his 59th birthday this week a free man. But with his freedom, there’s a catch — prosecutors insisted he plead ‘no contest’ to 28 counts of murder — to crimes he insists he did not commit.”
Italian workers have at least 30-35 days paid holiday mandated each year.
Workers in Italy are entitled to the EU mandated four weeks of vacation, equal to 20 vacation days, each year. In addition, Italy has 12 national paid holidays. Workers receive extra pay even when these holidays are not on workdays.
There are 11 national holidays in Italy each year.
There are 11 national Holidays in Italy according to the US Embassy in Italy: New Year’s Day, Epiphany, Easter Monday, Anniversary of Liberation, Labor Day (5/1), Foundation of the Italian Republic, Assumption Day, All Saints’ Day, Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Christmas Day, and St. Stephen’s Day.
Each city in Italy has a holiday for their patron saint.
“Even the smallest towns in in Italy have patron saints, for whom celebrations, fairs, festivals, and pilgrimages are held each year.”
https://books.google.com/books?id=pnHYFUZz2u0C&pg=PA197&lpg=PA197&dq=italian+cities+and+their+patron+saints&source=bl&ots=lHwtT8DFLB&sig=gUWbpu4bB72FVqvOg_nELzY3jgw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CEsQ6AEwB2oVChMIsbT2jpifyAIViRY-Ch1e3wQI – v=onepage&q&f=false
(See page 197)
When Italians get married they get 15 days paid holiday.
“For his/her wedding a worker usually has the right to 15 days of paid leave.” http://www.ilo.org/ifpdial/information-resources/national-labour-law-profiles/WCMS_158903/lang–en/index.htm
In December, Italian workers get an additional salary.
“In Europe, some countries, including Italy, Portugal and Spain, mandate additional salary payments. In Italy, for example, nearly all companies provide a 13-month salary to all employees while other companies provide a 14-month salary.”
“Italy: In December, employees are paid a Christmas bonus equal to a month’s salary. In many contracts a 14th month’s salary is included and is paid in June.” http://internationalhrforum.com/2010/01/06/base-salary-not-so-basic/
In Italy, if you don’t use all your vacation days in a year, they carry over to the next year.
“According to case law, holidays that have not been enjoyed cannot be forfeited and they are automatically carried forward in the following year(s).”
Lardini makes men’s fashions for brands like Dolce & Gabbana, Burberry, and Versace.
“Yes that Burberry blazer you’re wearing may very well in fact have been made here in Ancona.”
Stress causes sickness.
“Unmanaged stress, especially stress-related anger and hostility, can affect your health. It may cause: high blood pressure, irregular heart rhythms, damage to your arteries, higher cholesterol levels, the development and progression of coronary artery disease (atherosclerosis), a weakened immune system.” http://my.clevelandclinic.org/services/heart/prevention/emotional-health/stress-relaxation/stress-management-your-heart
“Illness or stress can trigger high blood sugars because hormones produced to combat illness or stress can also cause your blood sugar to rise.”
Italians have one of the highest life expectancies in the world.
According to data from the WHO, Italy has a combined (m/f) expectancy of 83 years. Only Japan has a higher life expectancy for both sexes, at 84 years. Compare this to the U.S., which has a life expectancy of 79 in the same WHO data set.
Italians live five years longer than the average American.
Italy: “Life expectancy at birth m/f (years, 2013): 80/85”
U.S.: “Life expectancy at birth m/f (years, 2013): 76/81” http://www.who.int/countries/usa/en/
Data from the OECD puts the US at 78.8, and Italy at 82.8 years.
Workers at the Lardini factory go home for a two-hour lunch break every day.
Andrea Lardini confirmed the two-hour lunch break in an interview in a fashion magazine, here: “The Lardinis take the term ‘family’ to heart. That’s why for instance lunch breaks in manufacturing last 2 hours: ‘Operators need to get home and feed their families.’ They have a staggered timetable for different groups to assure the workflow. Treating employees with great respect is the Lardini credo. A respect that shows itself resplendently in the final product.”
“Of all the statistics available on Italy and its varied economic problems, few are as eye-opening as the fact that at around 1 p.m on any given day, three quarters of the population will normally be sitting down to lunch in their own homes. According to data from statistics agency ISTAT, lunch is the most important meal of the day for 68 percent of Italians and 74.3 percent usually eat it at home, a figure which has grown as a long recession has hit spending on food and eating out.”
Ducati makes a healthy profit (even though they pay good wages and give their workers good benefits).
“Ducati, which last year sold about 42,000 motorcycles such as the $28,000 Superbike 1199 Panigale S Tricolore, posted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization to 93 million euros in 2011, a person familiar with the financial figures said March 13. … Ducati’s revenue last year rose 20 percent to 480 million euros, giving it a profit margin of about 19 percent.”
“Ducati hails 2012 a banner year, making the announcement at the annual press conference of its German owner, Audi. The Italian marque claims revenue up 16% over 2011, with 44,102 units delivered to its customers.”
Italian union workers went were persecuted, imprisoned, and convicted in their struggle to make benefits the law or part of their contract.
“The militant struggles of the 60s and early 70s saw great material gains for the Italian working class. New forms of struggle employed and attempts at collective decision making in the factories had reaped great benefits, and made many Italian workers conscious of the power that can be wielded in the workplace.”
In the United States we have zero paid weeks vacation guaranteed by law.
“The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require payment for time not worked, such as vacations, sick leave or federal or other holidays. These benefits are matters of agreement between an employer and an employee (or the employee’s representative).” http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/workhours/vacation_leave.htm
Italian mothers get five months maternity leave, which is mandatory.
“Maternity leave is compulsory for female workers, from two months before until three months after childbirth. Pre childbirth leave can start at an earlier date than two months, if the worker’s work is dangerous for her health or that of the unborn child. On the other hand it is possible to postpone pre-childbirth leave in order to increase the leave granted after childbirth…. During compulsory maternity leave, the mother is entitled to 80% of her regular pay from Social Security and the period is counted as actual work time. Collective agreements usually oblige the employer to make up the difference to the regular wage.”
The United States and Papua New Guinea are the only countries without paid maternity leave.
“US Is Only Industrialized Nation Without Paid Maternity Leave”
“This state of affairs places America in a very small group: countries that neither provide new parents with some sort of Social Security-esque benefit nor require that businesses pay their employees even a portion of their normal salaries. According to the map above, the U.S. is joined by Suriname and Papua New Guinea. It is the lone developed nation with this status.”
This map from the New York Times shows the same data:
Italy, like the United States, is among the top most productive nations in the world.
Charles Jones, a professor of economics at Stanford University who has been researching productivity for decades, used data from Penn World Table 8.0 to calculate Total Factor Productivity (TFP) for 128 different countries and found that Italy ranks 15th out of all of them.
Data and Jones’ latest research are available here:
Lardini workers get 8 weeks paid vacation
As per Claudio Favaro, a Lardini Company executive.
Les Andelys is a small village in rural Normandy
“Size: Les Andelys has a population of 8500 inhabitants extending over 4062 hectares.
Statistics: Les Andelys is a commune in the Eure department, Upper Normandy.”
French students have a full hour for lunch.
Deputy Mayor Valérie Rano of Les Andelys confirmed by email on July 22, 2015 that the students get two hours in total for their lunch break for lunch and recess.
Chef Magnouac spends less per lunch than we do on average in the US.
Chef Magnouac and officials from Les Andelys said in their interview that they spend about 2 Euros per meal:
Chef Philippe Magnoac [FRENCH TRANSLATED]: ,,,at the lowest we are at €1.40 and the ceiling is €2.20 a little bit more when we do organic… it’s normal, organic food costs a bit more… [END TRANSLATION]
Alain D’Ajon: Even on average it costs around €2.00
In the U.S., the average cost to prepare a school lunch is about $3.00.” http://dev.schoolnutrition.org/uploadedFiles/School_Nutrition/102_ResourceCenter/RunningYourProgram/FinancialManagement/FactSheet(3).doc
The public school where we see the lunches is not in a wealthy area.
“National rank in terms of income per household: 23,630 out of 36,717 in terms of revenue per household.”
The school lunch menu shown is the standard menu for the schools in one of the poorest towns in France.
“Poverty is also heavily concentrated in France’s Nord and Pas Calais areas, which include the city of Roubaix, long known as ground zero for Frances less privileged.” http://www.thelocal.fr/20140617/map-reveals-povertystricken-parts-of-france
Here is the school lunch menu for the schools in Roubaix, as published on the city’s website: http://www.ville-roubaix.fr/fileadmin/user_upload/2.PRATIQUE/0.Education/PDF/cantine_mai_juin_2015.pdf
Daycare in France is free.
“France has developed a comprehensive system of childcare and pre-school services of great quality.”
“French public nurseries and daycare centers are funded by local and regional authorities and by means-tested parental fees.”
“The supplement for free choice of childcare is paid to a couple or parent using the services of a registered childminder or a childminder in the home to care for a child under age 6. It is awarded either as a separate benefit or, if the parent(s) fulfil(s) the income conditions, on top of the basic allowance. The benefit is made up of two different components: a component covering part of the childminder’s wage and varying according to household income and the child’s age, and a component consisting of payment by the direct settlement system (“tiers payant”) of all or part of the social security contributions payable as employer of the childminder (100% of the contributions payable for a registered childminder and 50% for a childminder in the home, up to a ceiling of €442 per month for a child under age 3 and €221 for a child between ages 3 and 6). The supplement is paid at the full rate up to the child’s third birthday, then at a reduced-rate until the child’s sixth birthday.”
“[The “crèche” is] subsidized by the state, with a sliding scale based on income.”
College in France is nearly free.
“In France, though, student loan debt is an alien concept. Fewer than 2 percent of students in France take out loans to pay for their education. The idea that you might have to take out loans is met with disbelief. The vast majority of universities here are publicly funded, with tuition rates set by the government. These public universities, among them the Sorbonne in Paris, cost an average of 183 euros per year for a licence, the three-year French equivalent of an undergraduate degree.”
The French pay slightly more than we do in taxes.
The average employee social security contribution (SSC) rates as percentage of gross earnings for the average worker in 2014 are 14.05% for France and 7.65% for US. The average personal income taxes (PIT) for the average worker in 2014 in the US was 17.19% and in France was 14.65%.
The totals of these are below in yellow:
|Social security taxes||14.05%||7.65%|
Please find attached the time series of average PIT for the US and France from 2000 to 2014. The figures have been extracted from the online OECD statistical portal: http://dotstat.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=AWCOMP.
Please find also attached the related time series for social security contributions that have been extracted from the OECD statistical portal: http://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=AWCOMP.
In reference to social expenditures in France
On social security benefit systems: http://www.oecd.org/els/benefits-and-wages-policies.htm. (contact: Tax-Benefit.Models@oecd.org)
Every French paycheck shows where their taxes are going.
“This zone concerns the social charges. Column A shows the base for the calculation (either your full salary, or the Social Security ceiling, or that portion of your salary which is above the Social Security ceiling). Column B shows the amounts added to your gross salary (rare), column C shows the amounts deducted from your gross salary, and column D shows the employer’s contributions. This section culminates with a line in BOLD “Cotisat.Salariales” which is the total amount of the salary deductions for the month. The gross salary minus the social charges is your net taxable salary.”
A detailed interactive sample payslip from payroll company ADP (in French):
“All of these social charges are paid to the URSSAF office shown in section 2 of the payslip.” This website also gives descriptions in English of each of the social charges listed on French payslips.
Congress appropriates nearly 60% of taxpayer dollars for defense spending.
This pie chart shows how Congress allocated $1.11 trillion in discretionary spending in fiscal year 2015, with military spending at 54%, or $598.5 billion plus veterans benefits spending of additional 6 %
A small high school in Texas that does not offer sex education / has an abstinence-only program was hit with an outbreak of Chlamydia.
“Crane High School in Crane, Tex., is experiencing an outbreak of the sexually transmitted disease Chlamydia. … But because the school has an abstinence-only program, the problem has attracted attention to questions about the viability of abstinence education. ‘We do have an abstinence curriculum, and that’s evidently ain’t working,’ [Independent School District Superintendent Jim Rumage] told KFOR.”
“A Texas high school is in the middle of a Chlamydia outbreak, officials say. But according to the school district’s student handbook, it does not offer sexual education.”
Texas has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates among all the states.
The clip of Rick Perry’s interview is from Oct. 2010. At the time, Texas was 3rd in the nation in teen pregnancies, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and CDC figures for 2009 (in the final 2010 figures, Texas was 4th).
In 2014, the CDC ranked Texas among the states with the ten highest teen pregnancy rates.
“Texas was ranked 5 out of 51 (50 states + the District of Columbia) on final 2013 teen births rates among females aged 15-19 (with 1 representing the highest rate and 51 representing the lowest rate).”
The United States has five times as many teen pregnancies as France, ten times as many as Germany, and fifteen times as many as Switzerland.
In 2010, the US had 34 teen births per 1,000 women ages 15-19, while France had 7, Germany had 5, and Switzerland had only 2.
See Table 1
Finland really was number 1 in education.
“A new global league table, produced by the Economist Intelligence Unit for Pearson, has found Finland to be the best education system in the world.”
In recent years, Finland ranked #1 while the US was #29.
“Finland emerged at the top of 57 countries in science, according to the 2006 survey results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). The US ranked 29th, behind countries like Croatia, the Czech Republic, and Liechtenstein, and ahead of just nine other OECD countries.”
The Wall Street Journal also reported the OECD’s findings that Finland was number one and the US was 29th in science.
Figure 2.12a of this OECD study on of student performance in mathematics shows Finland having the highest “percentage of students at each level of proficiency on the mathematics / quantity scale,” while the US ranked 29th.
Finland gave us the air guitar championship.
The World Air Guitar Championship is based in Oulu, Finland.
Finland gave us the sport of cell phone throwing.
“Mobile Phone Throwing is light and modern Finnish sport that suits for people of all ages. It combines recycling philosophy and fun spirit in active sport. A part of the philosophy is also a spiritual freedom from being available all the time.”
Finland gave us the sport of wife carrying.
The Wife Carrying World Championships are based in Sonkajärvi, Finland.
In the past, Finland’s schools were as bad as the schools in the US, and placed similar to the US on world education rankings.
In a mid-1960s international math exam, the results of which started getting published in 1965, had 3 different ages tested. Melding together the rankings, Finland finished No. 8 and the US 12 out of 12 countries. In a late-60s science exam, results of which were published between 1969 and 1973, three ages were tested. Again, melding the country rankings, the US and Finland finished tied for 5th out of 11.
A late 1970s math exam study (results published 1980-89), with 9 different student ages and test subjects, saw Finland finish, on average, 6th out of 16 nations or regions, while the US was on average 9th. In the 1990s Finland begins to soar and in 2000 hits No. 1.
International Mathematics and Science Assessment: What Have We Learned, published by the National Center for Educational Statistics, Jan. 1992.
Pasi Sahlberg’s book Finnish Lessons gives a detailed history of Finnish progress in education.
Finnish students do not have homework.
“Some top achieving countries, like Singapore, assign their students lots of homework. But Finland, for example, succeeds without much homework. On average, Finnish students do only about three hours of homework a week, yet in 2012 they scored sixth highest in the world in reading and 12th highest in math on the OECD’s international test, known as PISA or Programme for International Student Assessment.”
Finland’s students have one of the shortest school days and shortest school years in the entire Western World.
This 2010 OECD data on Compulsory Hours of Instruction shows Finland to have one of the fewest required hours of school out of all countries listed.
“Each year, the OECD publishes a report comparing the performance of education systems in the industrialised world. And this shows that the countries which have the lowest number of hours in the classroom – Finland, Norway, Sweden, South Korea and Denmark – are also among the countries with the highest level of achievement.”
OECD data from 2014 shows that Finland continues to require one of the lowest number of hours in school.
(see page 428 – graph and link to data)
Subjects like art, music, and poetry have been eliminated in many US schools because they are not on the standardized tests.
Information on standardized testing and the disappearance of arts curriculum: http://neatoday.org/2014/09/02/the-testing-obsession-and-the-disappearing-curriculum-2/
Research on testing and narrowing curriculum: http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational_leadership/mar11/vol68/num06/High-Stakes_Testing_Narrows_the_Curriculum.aspx
Civics is not on the standardized test, so schools are beginning to drop it.
Schools are shifting away from teaching civics to spend more time on subjects that appear on tests: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/12/circle-study-finds-most-s_n_1959522.html
Report on the impact of standardized testing on civics knowledge: https://www.aei.org/publication/putting-civics-to-the-test-the-impact-of-state-level-civics-assessments-on-civic-knowledge/
It is illegal in Finland to charge tuition.
Only a small number of independent schools exist in Finland, and even they are all publicly financed. None is allowed to charge tuition fees. http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/12/what-americans-keep-ignoring-about-finlands-school-success/250564/
Pasi Sahlberg noted this fact in his interview:
Pasi Sahlberg: But our Constitution, the main reason our Constitution says that education is free, meaning that it’s free of charge. It’s like a basic human right, this is what we often say in Finland that we perceive education as a basic human right that should be accessible for everybody regardless of where they come from; but by saying that education is free we also mean that it’s open to parents or whoever wants to see what’s going on in our classrooms. But that is one reason why we cannot have private universities, or we cannot have universities or education institutions that would charge tuition fees for the formal degrees, okay?
Question: Because university is a human right?
Pasi Sahlberg: Because of this Constitution of thinking that education is a basic human right. So therefore the universities that are offering programs that lead to a formal degree like Masters degree or Undergrad degree, they cannot charge tuition from students for that. And the same thing with primary schools and high schools that they cannot—they cannot charge fee for that.
“It is illegal to charge fees in the Finnish education system, so even those schools that are run privately take their funding from the state. Its schools are comprehensive in that there is no selection of pupils.”
In Finland, private schools essentially don’t exist.
“Only a small number of independent schools exist in Finland, and even they are all publicly financed. None is allowed to charge tuition fees. There are no private universities, either. This means that practically every person in Finland attends public school, whether for pre-K or a Ph.D.”
Slovenia is one of dozens of countries where it is essentially free to go to university.
Finland / Norway / Iceland:
Students in Slovenia protested when it was proposed that universities begin charging tuition.
“Demonstrations against the new act on higher education (Zvis) took place in Ljubljana on Wednesday. The police had to prevent a small group of protesters from entering the premises of the ministry of education, but otherwise the student protest was peaceful.”
Students in many countries protested when the government tried to raise or start charging tuition.
- http://www.studyineurope.eu/study-in-finland/tuition-feesu-turn on tuition fees
German workers only work 36 hours per week.
Data from the OECD show German workers spent an average of 35.3 hours per week at work in 2014.
The German universal healthcare system allows doctors to prescribe their patients with a free, three-week stay at a spa.
This is per the German Medicinal Baths Association website: http://www.die-neue-kur.de/en/resort-therapies-wellness/resort-therapy-on-prescription.html
Therapeutic treatments are covered as long as the person’s qualifying doctor approves. While the level of treatment and coverage varies, “insurance generally covers all costs for up to three weeks. You’ll only pay the 10 Euro deductible per day.” If a term of longer than 3 weeks is required, you can apply for continued coverage.
NY Times article “Bad Neuenahr Journal; To Tighten Germany’s Belt, Take a Look at the Spa” dated July 23, 1996, discusses German government’s struggle to limit health insurance spa provision from 4 weeks every three years to 3 weeks every 4 years. A 2008 UK Telegraph article also says, “Doctors in Germany, Italy, France and Hungary prescribe state-subsidized treatments and spa visits as a matter of course.”
Half of German supervisory boards are workers.
The Co-Determination Act of 1976 made it so that in companies with 2000 or more employees, half the supervisory board must be workers. There are details in this document (an outline of co-determination in Germany) from Germany’s Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs: http://www.bmas.de/SharedDocs/Downloads/EN/PDF-Publikationen/a741e-co-determination-2013-englisch.pdf?__blob=publicationFile&v=3
It is against the law in Germany to contact an employee while he or she is on vacation.
The Guardian reports “It is already illegal in Germany for employees to contact staff during holidays.” http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/aug/29/germany-anti-stress-law-ban-on-emails-out-of-office-hours
In addition, a German Ministry of Labor representative verified by email that German law states that on mandatory paid holidays, employees are released from all job responsibilities, including responding to contact from their supervisors
Section 8 of Germany’s Federal Paid Leave Act
Business Activity during Vacation: During vacation, the employee shall not pursue any business activity conflicting with the purpose of the vacation.
Mercedes has software that blocks after-hours emails from being sent to workers
“Recently, car manufacturer Daimler installed software on its systems which automatically deletes emails sent to staff out of hours.”
At every school in Germany, students are taught about the Holocaust.
It is a requirement to teach about the Holocaust in all parts of Germany. Students may learn about it as early as age 12, and at age 14/15 it is mandatory.
Outside many German homes are plaques with information about Jewish families who lived there and were killed in the Holocaust.
Stolpersteine (‘stumbling stones’) can be found in “over 1,000 places in Germany and in 17 other European countries.” There are currently around 48,000 and more are set to be installed.
Each one has information about targets of the Holocaust: http://www.stolpersteine-gelsenkirchen.de/stumbling_stones_demnig.htm
Until 2015, the United States never had a museum of slavery.
John J. Cummings, III founded the Whitney Plantation slavery museum in December 2014 – it is the first major public museum devoted entirely to slavery: https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/08/13/the-u-s-has-35000-museums-why-is-only-one-about-slavery/
Portugal does not arrest people for using drugs anymore.
“Twelve years ago, Portugal eliminated criminal penalties for drug users. Since then, those caught with small amounts of marijuana, cocaine or heroin go unindicted and possession is a misdemeanor on par with illegal parking.” http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/evaluating-drug-decriminalization-in-portugal-12-years-later-a-891060.html
Using drugs is not considered a crime in Portugal, so there is no legal possibility of receiving a jail sentence for using drugs.
“Twelve years ago, Portugal eliminated criminal penalties for drug users. Since then, those caught with small amounts of marijuana, cocaine or heroin go unindicted and possession is a misdemeanor on par with illegal parking.”
Since Portugal decriminalized drug use, both the number of drug users and the amount of drug-related crime has gone down.
“Portugal decided to decriminalize all drugs in 2000. In the nearly 15 years since, the country has seen drug abuse drop by half.”
“‘There is no doubt that the phenomenon of addiction is in decline in Portugal,’ said Joao Goulao, President of the Institute of Drugs and Drugs Addiction, a press conference to mark the 10th anniversary of the law. The number of addicts considered ‘problematic’ — those who repeatedly use ‘hard’ drugs and intravenous users — had fallen by half since the early 1990s, when the figure was estimated at around 100,000 people, Goulao said.”
Laws were passed that imposed harsher sentences on the drugs used more often by African Americans, while the punishments for drugs most often used in the white community were less severe.
In 2012, the average sentence for powder cocaine was 83 months, whereas the average sentence for crack cocaine was 97 months.
“The  Act provided that individuals convicted of crimes involving 500 grams of powder cocaine or just 5 grams of crack (the weight of two pennies) were sentenced to at least 5 years imprisonment, without regard to any mitigating factors. The Act also provided that those individuals convicted of crimes involving 5000 grams of powder cocaine and 50 grams of crack (the weight of a candy bar) be sentenced to 10 years imprisonment”
“Proportion of people incarcerated for a drug offense in state prison who are black or Latino, although these groups use and sell drugs at similar rates as whites: 57 percent”
Statistics on imprisonment rate by race:
“Black people comprise 13 percent of the U.S. population, and are consistently documented by the U.S. government to use drugs at similar rates to people of other races. But Black people comprise 30 percent of those arrested for drug law violations – and nearly 40 percent of those incarcerated in state or federal prison for drug law violations.”
Statistics on length of imprisonment in each drug type:
“A large scale powder cocaine dealer who trafficks in 500 grams (2,500-5,000 dosage units) of powder cocaine will receive the same sentence as a crack dealer who has sold only 5 grams (10-25 doses) of crack cocaine; that is, a five-year sentence of imprisonment.”
The police have rounded up millions of black men.
Putting together NCJRS, NAACP, and US govt stats, there are currently approximately 2.4 million African American men who have spend some time in prison.
Imprisoned black felons in the United States are stripped of their right to vote.
“The right to vote and to cast a free and secret ballot is supposed to be the cornerstone of democracy. Yet, upwards of 5.3 million Americans are denied the right to vote because of a past felony conviction. In fact, people with felony convictions are banned from voting by law. …According to the Sentencing Project, ‘1.4 million African American men, or 13% of black men, is disenfranchised, a rate seven-times the national average.’”
35 states don’t even let felons vote after they get out of prison.
“Thirty U.S. states deny voting rights to felony probationers, and thirty-five states disenfranchise parolees. In the most extreme cases, eleven states continue to deny voting rights to some or all of the ‘ex-felons’ who have successfully fulfilled their prison, parole, or probation sentences.” http://sentencingproject.org/doc/publications/fd_State_Level_Estimates_of_Felon_Disen_2010.pdf
In states like Florida and Georgia, 1 in 3 black men cannot vote.
Estimate of percentage of African-American men disenfranchised in select states
|State||Adult black men||Tot AA disenfr||disenf AA men*||% of ABM|
* National estimates show women compose 16% of current felons and those in parole/probation. If anything, this figure underestimates the percentage of disenfranchised African-American men because people who are no longer on probation are even more likely to be male.
**While Georgia is home to a large number of current and ex-felons, unlike the other states above, Georgia doesn’t disenfranchise felons for life.
States with the highest percentage black population are the Red States.
Prison laborers are paid as little as $0.23 per hour.
Minimum UNICOR wage is $0.23 per hour.
“Inmate Pay Rates: 23 cents to $1.15 per hour.”
“UNICOR, better known as Federal Prison Industries, or FPI, is a government-owned corporation that employs inmates for as little as 23 cents per hour, to provide a wide range of products and services under the guise of a ‘jobs training program.’”
Many major companies have used prison labor.
Dell: “Crime Pays, for Corporations” Miami Herald, 4/28/97; “Pains of Mass Imprisonment,” by B. Fleury-Steiner, Routledge, 2013, p. 26
Eddie Bauer: “Bank Jobs,” New York Times, 7/15/01; “There’s Prison Labor in America, Too” Businessweek, 2/16/92
Microsoft: “There’s Prison Labor in America, Too” Businessweek, 2/16/92; “Inside the secret industry of inmate-staffed call centers,” NBCNews.com, 1/12/12
Toys R Us: “Bank Jobs,” New York Times, 7/15/01; “Toys ‘R Us Gets Heat on Inmate Jobs,” Chicago Tribune, 6/24/94
Boeing: “Prisoners Help Build Patriot Missiles,” Wired Magazine, 3/11; “The Pains of Mass Imprisonment” by B. Fleury-Steiner.
Lockheed Martin: “Prisoners Help Build Patriot Missiles,” Wired, 3/11; “The Pains of Mass Imprisonment” by B. Fleury-Steiner.
McDonnell Douglas: “Prisoners Help Build Patriot Missiles,” Wired, 3/11
JC Penney: “Pains of Mass Imprisonment” by B. Fleury-Steiner; “What Do Prisoners Make for Victoria’s Secret?” Mother Jones
Victoria’s Secret: “Bank Jobs,” New York Times, 7/15/01; “Pains of Mass Imprisonment” by Fleury-Steinerl “What Do Prisoner’s Make for Victoria’s Secret?” Mother Jones, 7/08
AT&T: “As Prison Labor Grows, so Does Debate,” NY Times, 3/19/00; “Pains of Mass Imprisonment” by Fleury-Steiner
IBM: “Crime Pays, for Corporations” Miami Herald, 4/28/97; “Pains of Mass Imprisonment” by Fleury-Steiner
JanSport: “Pains of Mass Imprisonment” by B. Fleury-Steiner; “What Do Prisoner’s Make for Victoria’s Secret?” Mother Jones, 7/08
Portugal does not have the death penalty.
Portugal abolished the death penalty civilly in 1867, and in the military in 1911, although they allowed it during wartime only for treason during WWI. In 1976 it was totally abolished forever. Portugal was the first European country to abolish capital punishment. http://en.www.mcu.es/patrimonio/MC/PatrimonioEur/Red/Portugal_Abolicion_penademuerte.html
The US has one of the highest recidivism rates in the world, and Norway has one of the lowest.
“On top of that, when criminals in Norway leave prison, they stay out. It has one of the lowest recidivism rates in the world at 20%. The US has one of the highest: 76.6% of prisoners are re-arrested within five years.”
“An estimated two-thirds (68 percent) of 405,000 prisoners released in 30 states in 2005 were arrested for a new crime within three years of release from prison, and three-quarters (77 percent) were arrested within five years, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today.”
“Norway has one of the lowest recidivism rates in the world, at 20 percent.”
Prisoners in Norway can vote, and candidates participate in parliamentary debates televised live from inside prisons.
Tom Eberhardt, warden of Bastøy, noted this fact in his interview:
TOM EBERHARDT: Yeah, the election six years ago, they had broadcasted a debate from Oslo Prison. And in that debate you had prisoners, prison officials, and national politicians, who had a huge debate about justice policy. And that was broadcasted nationally.
“It was a stunning political debate that would be hard to imagine in Britain. But it was not so shocking in Norway, where a general election is taking place on Monday. The topic was crime policy and – so far so normal – it featured a panel of politicians discussing the best ways to reduce crime. But the live TV show was set inside a high security prison, the audience consisted exclusively of guards and prisoners, with one inmate, Bjørnar Dahl, taking part in the panel alongside the justice minister and the deputy leader of the main opposition party.” http://www.theguardian.com/society/2009/sep/10/norway-prisons-tv-election-debate
“The second time I went to prison was in September, to a high-security detention facility in central Oslo. I was there to meet Bjoernar Dahl, a 43-year-old inmate who, a few days before, had been debating crime policy with the justice minister and an opposition politician, during a primetime television election debate. The debate was broadcast live from inside the prison walls, in front of an audience of inmates and guards.”
Trond Blattman’s son was one of 55 teenagers murdered on July 22nd, 2011, on a summer camp island in a lake in Norway.
“During the attack, 69 people were killed and of the 517 survivors, 66 were wounded. 55 of those who died were teenagers, the youngest victim was just 14. Breivik fired at least 186 shots during the attack.”
“The terror attacks, against government buildings in Oslo and a Labour party youth summer camp on Utoeya island, left 77 people dead and hundreds injured.”
The longest possible prison sentence in Norway is 21 years.
Norway Civil Penal Code says sentences are not to exceed 21 years
Section 17. Imprisonment may be imposed:
(a) for a term of from 14 days to 15 years, or in the cases dealt with in sections 60 a, 61
and 62 for a term not exceeding 20 years;
(b) in cases in which it is specially provided, for a term not exceeding 21 years. http://www.un.org/depts/los/LEGISLATIONANDTREATIES/PDFFILES/NOR_penal_code.pdf
Norway has one of the lowest murder rates in the world.
OECD data from 2013 says Norway has 3rd lowest murder rate in the world, with fewer than five intentional homicides per 100,000 people each year.
Iran is a world leader in stem cell research.
“Though the world’s attention has focused on Iran’s advancing nuclear program, Iranian scientists have moved to the forefront in embryonic stem cell research, according to a recent joint study by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.”
“Iran in the forefront when it comes to stem cell research”
“It is often assumed that embryonic stem cell research would be a touchy subject in Iran because of the religious issues it brings up in the United States, however, this isn’t true. Since 2002, the Supreme Leader issued a fatwa in favor of stem cells, putting Iran on the forefront of research.”
Brazil lowered their voting age to 16.
“In Brazil, voting for anyone age 18 to 69 is mandatory, and for 16- and 17-year-olds it’s optional, kind of like a learner’s permit for driving.”
“The Brazilian election is interesting for another reason: millions of Brazilian 16 and 17-year-olds, from Sao Paulo to the Amazon, turned out to vote. These young voters make up 2.3% of the Brazilian electorate on average, even though, unlike Brazilians aged between 18 and 69, they are not legally required to vote.”
In Rwanda, the majority of Parliament is made up of women.
According to data compiled by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Rwanda has the highest percentage of women in parliament in the world.
“[Rwanda] has the distinction of being the only country in the world with more female MPs than male ones. … Rwanda has managed to reach the figure of 64% women in its parliament, which is unheard-of everywhere else.”
“Rwandans once again voted in a female majority parliament in last week’s elections, directly electing 26 women in addition to the 24 seats reserved for females in the constitution. Rwanda has come to be the world’s leader in women lawmakers. Women hold an unprecedented 64 percent of seats in Rwanda’s parliament, more than any another country in the world.”
Tunisia has free, government-funded women’s health clinics throughout the country.
“Tunisia, which legalized abortion five years before the U.S., also has freely available morning-after pills, Pap smears, and breast exams at both local and mobile clinics.”
“The Tunisian Sexual and Reproductive Health Association (ATSR) was established in 1968 and joined IPPF in 1969. It is government-supported and plays a key partnership role with public health services in Tunisia. It has run a number of government and UNFPA- funded initiatives (such as the Family Health Project, designed to raise awareness of family planning amongst deprived communities). ATSR works together with the National Office for the Family and Population (ONFP) to deliver free sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) services, including family planning and education and communication (IEC) programmes to sensitise peri- urban and rural populations about family planning.”
Abortion in Tunisia has been legal since 1973.
“Access to abortion services, legalized in 1973, is often touted as an example of Tunisia’s progressive approach to women’s rights … Tunisia’s public hospitals and family planning centers provide free, anonymous abortion services.”
Women played a key role in the Tunisian revolution.
“From bringing down a dictator to rebuilding the country, women are central to Tunisia’s struggle for freedom and dignity.”
The women of Tunisia fought back when the newly formed Islamist party decided they didn’t want women’s rights as part of the new constitution.
“Thousands of Tunisians have protested in the capital, Tunis, against moves by the Islamist-led government which they fear will reduce women’s rights. The government has unveiled a draft constitution which refers to women as ‘complementary to men’. The mostly women protesters held up placards which read: ‘Rise up women for your rights.’”
Women in America tried to pass an Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s, but it fell three states short of ratification.
The ERA was introduced into every session of Congress between 1923 and 1972, when it was passed and sent to the states for ratification. The seven-year time limit in the ERA’s proposing clause was extended by Congress to June 30, 1982, but at the deadline, the ERA had been ratified by 35 states, leaving it three states short of the 38 required for ratification. It has been reintroduced into every Congress since that time. http://www.equalrightsamendment.org/overview.htm
2014 Tunisian Constitution, Article 46, Women’s Rights: The state commits to protect women’s achieved rights, and work to strengthen and develop those rights. The state shall guarantee the equality of opportunity between women and men in the bearing of responsibility in all fields. The state shall strive to achieve equal representation for women and men in elected Assemblies. The state shall take all necessary measures in order to eradicate violence against women.
“The new constitution is considered one of the most progressive in the Arab world, and was passed late on Sunday by 200 votes in the 216-seat assembly in Tunis.… The constitution, which enshrines freedom of religion and women’s rights, took two years to finish… An entire chapter, made up of 28 articles, is dedicated to protecting citizens’ rights, including protection from torture, the right to due process, and freedom of worship. It guarantees equality for men and women before the law and a commitment from the state to protect women’s rights.” http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/27/tunisia-signs-new-constitution-progressive
The Islamist party offered to voluntarily step down even though legally they didn’t have to.
The Islamist party decided to step down, and were not forced to do so by any legal obligation.
The premier resigned, which ended the party’s rule.
On October 24th 1975, the women of Iceland went on strike. 90% of women did no work of any kind.
“Gudrun Jonsdottir still remembers what she was wearing on October 24 1975. She was 21, just married with a young child, and was not going to cook, clean, and was definitely not going to work. Nor was my mother, my friends’ mothers, the shop assistants in the supermarket, the teachers – in short an estimated 90% of women in Iceland. A neighbour, the mother of three boisterous boys, left her family to fend for themselves at 8am and did not return until late in the evening. Remarkably, although Icelandic society was almost brought to a standstill that fine day, its women had never felt so alive, so purposeful and so determined.”
“The 1975 women’s strike—with an estimated 90 percent of women participating, according to the former President Vigdís—brought workplaces and homes to a standstill in what was, at the time, the largest rally in Iceland’s history.”
In 1980, Iceland became the first country to democratically elect a female president. Vigdis Finnbogadóttir was a single mom with a 7-year-old daughter.
“In 1980, despite being a divorced single mother (she adopted a daughter in 1972), Finnbogadóttir was drafted as a candidate for the presidency of Iceland; she was narrowly elected, with 33.6 percent of the national vote, over three male opponents. She was subsequently reelected three times (1984, 1988, and 1992) before retiring in 1996.” http://www.britannica.com/biography/Vigdis-Finnbogadottir
Company boards in Iceland have to be either at least 40% women or 40% men.
“The amendments require companies in Iceland with over 50 employees on yearly basis to have at least 40 percent of each gender represented on the their corporate boards of directors from September 2013 on.” http://studenttheses.cbs.dk/bitstream/handle/10417/3701/ragnhildur_erna_Arnorsdottir.pdf?sequence=1
“The situation is better in public corporations, where women are 40% of all board members (Rafnsdóttir and Styrkársdóttir, 2009). Public corporations are influenced by the equality law’s provisions on gender parity (Lög um jafna stöðu og jafnan rétt kvenna og karlanr. 10/2008), which requires at least 40% of each sex to be represented on boards and in senior management.”
Research shows that corporate culture starts changing once there are 3 women on boards, because 1 is a token, and 2 is a minority.
The report on the subject – “Critical Mass on Corporate Boards: Why Three or More Women Enhance Governance”: “Based on interviews and discussions with 50 women directors, 12 CEOs, and seven corporate secretaries from Fortune 1000 companies, we show that a critical mass of three or more women can cause a fundamental change in the boardroom and enhance corporate governance.”
“Whether one agrees with quotas as a mechanism for an increase or not (spoiler: men are less likely to), a new look at Norway, which has a mandatory quota system of 40%, is helpful in understanding why having at least three women on a board is important.”
“Fortune 500 companies with the highest representation of women board directors attained significantly higher financial performance, on average, than those with the lowest representation of women board directors, according to Catalyst’s most recent report, The Bottom Line: Corporate Performance and Women’s Representation on Boards. In addition, the report points out, on average, notably stronger-than-average performance at companies with three or more women board directors.”
Women control half the seats in company boards, and half the seats in Parliament in Iceland.
Data from the World Bank shows that 40% of the seats in Iceland’s parliament are held by women.
It is against the law in Iceland to say that something is “best.”
Iceland’s “Act No. 57/2005 on Supervision of Unfair Commercial Practices and Transparency of the Market” regulates comparative advertising.
Jon Gnarr won in a landslide, and his election was a total rebuke of the bankers.
“Gnarr, a standup comic, stood as mayor of Reykjavik. It was a satirical gesture, designed to protest against the political class blamed for miring Iceland in the financial crisis. To his horror, and the horror of the establishment, he won. ‘Why do I always have to get myself into trouble?’ he says, recalling his thoughts on the night of his victory.” http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/15/jon-gnarr-comedian-mayor-iceland
Only one banker, named Kareem, has been tried in a criminal court in the US since the crash of ’08.
Kareem Serageldin, Egyptian born, raised in the Upper Peninsula in Michigan, was sentenced to thirty months in prison. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/04/magazine/only-one-top-banker-jail-financial-crisis.html?_r=0
In Iceland, nearly 70 bankers and hedge fund managers were prosecuted.
Olafur Hauksson said in his interview, “We have prosecuted somewhere over 70 persons.”
In the US we had the savings and loan scandal, in which there were prosecutions, and people went to jail.
This New York Times comparison of the savings and loans scandal and the financial crisis of 200 notes that by 1992, there had been 839 convictions, and 1,100 criminal prosecutions.
Bill Black “played an integral role in throwing a number of high-level executives in jail for white-collar crimes during the savings and loan crisis in the 1980s”
“A more aggressive response followed the savings and loan crisis of the ’80s and early ’90s, when more than 1,000 bankers were convicted by the Justice Department.”
Since Iceland prosecuted the bankers instead of bailing out the banks, and put women in charge of much of the financial decision-making, their economy has completely recovered and is doing better than ever.
“Iceland’s three main banks collapsed in October 2008, leaving debts more than 10 times the size of the country’s GDP. The country, until then number one in the United Nations Human Development Index (ie, the best place to be a human being on planet Earth), was way beyond bankrupt. And men were blamed. Even men blamed men. The ruling party was overwhelmingly male, the bankers were practically all male and the rash, absurdly over-ambitious impulses that led a small nation of fishermen to believe they would all be swimming in champagne for the rest of their lives were clearly, categorically, exclusively male. So, as the Financial Times wrote at the time, the women stepped in to clean up the mess.”
“The tiny nation, with a population of just over 300,000 people, has been overwhelmed by an economic disaster that is threatening its very survival. But for a generation of fortysomething women, the havoc is translating into an opportunity to step into the positions vacated by the men blamed for the crisis, and to play a leading role in creating a more balanced economy, which, they argue, should incorporate overtly feminine values.”
“Instead of allowing the criminals responsible for bank fraud to run free as the years passed by, Iceland thought it might be wise to actually indict bankers who committed serious financial crimes that contributed to the collapse. By paying off loans for consumers, forgiving homeowner debt (up to 110% of the property value), and throwing the offenders in prison, Iceland was able to bounce back. Now, its economy is “recovered” and is growing faster than both the US and European economies.”
“[In 2015], Iceland will become the first European country that hit crisis in 2008 to beat its pre-crisis peak of economic output.”
“Short-term suffering followed [the financial crisis], but today, Iceland is buzzing: Unemployment is 4 percent, the International Monetary Fund is predicting 4.1 percent G.D.P. growth for 2015, and tourism is booming.”
Around the same time the wall fell, Mandela got out of prison.
“11 February 1990: Madela released from Victor Verster Prison.”
After he got out of prison, Mandela then became the President of South Africa.
“In April 1994 the Mandela-led ANC won South Africa’s first elections by universal suffrage, and on May 10 Mandela was sworn in as president of the country’s first multiethnic government.”
A few months after the Wall came down it was official that the Cold War in Germany was over.
The wall chiseling began on November 10, 1989. Free elections took place in East Germany in March 1990. Reunification took place in October 1990. http://time.com/3559122/berlin-wall-timeline/