Millennial Review – Daily Review August 10th

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MR Daily Review 

August 10th

1. Chipotle to pay $20 million to current and former workers for violating NYC labor laws.

According to investigators, Chipotle violated NYC’s Fair Workweek several times over by failing to post work schedules in advance, and ignoring other requirements like paying for schedule changes and offering shifts to current employees before hiring new employees. Labor law violations are par for the course for Chipotle. In another recent incident, Chipotle workers at an Augusta, Maine location voted to unionize, and Chipotle promptly shut the store down. Unfortunately, the $20 million dollar fine is just a slap on the wrist for a company raking in over $7 billion in revenue – especially considering how awful conditions in New York City Chipotles have been. Alex Press in Jacobin detailed how bad things got, with stores in the NYC area reporting over 700,000 violations in just one year. Chipotle also owes workers $150 million in back pay (over 6 times their fine) and some $375 million for additional violations. The $20 million in question goes directly to workers.

2. Climate bill likely overstates 40% carbon reduction using best case scenario models, and doesn’t include Manchin’s side deal.

The climate bill, or the Inflation Reduction Act as it was dubbed, is a good thing. Only though, in a “it’s better than absolutely nothing” sort of way. The headline that is going around says the bill promises a 40% reduction in emissions by 2030. One problem is that the baseline is set using 2005 numbers and there have been significant reductions since 2005 when fossil fuel emissions peaked roughly. A few other problems with the repeated stat are that reports omit that the same models project a 27% reduction if we did nothing  the same time period. It also doesn’t take into account the offset that the bill itself creates by requiring new fossil fuel lease options to go side by side with green energy investments. So, in reality, only the rosiest models of the proposed policies get us to that 40% reduction number. Neither does it account for the carbon footprint that will be the legacy of the West Virginia pipeline – approval for which is being streamlined in exchange for Manchin’s vote. Again, this bill is better than absolutely nothing, but in comparison to the monumental task that is adequately responding to climate change, we have a long way to go.

3. Trump pleads the fifth and attacks the legal system as cases come to a head.

Today former president Donald Trump was deposed by New York Attorney General Letitia James. The deposition was court ordered and part of a three year plus long investigation into whether Trump lied about the value of his assets to receive loans and other benefits. Donald Trump plead the 5th and utilized his right against self incrimination. His answer to every following question was exactly the same. Now the question becomes whether Attorney General James will force the matter to court or allow for a costly settlement. To their end her office stated they would follow the facts and the law wherever they go, whatever that means. Donald Trump personally derided people for pleading the 5th in the past, both as a politician and an entertainment figure. The matter also highlights the increasingly fraught legal waters the former president finds himself in, also highlighted by Monday’s Mar-A-Lago raid. Trump’s strategy has been to obfuscate and claim it all political witch hunts, which may work to explain away the investigations politically. But legally speaking it increasingly seems the former president faces some liability.

4. Biden administration announces end to “Remain in Mexico” policy. After a federal judge lifted a ruling that blocked DHS from ending the Migrant Protection Protocols (also called MPP or ‘remain in Mexico’), the administration has announced asylum seekers will no longer be forced to wait outside the US while their asylum claim is processed. The MPP has required asylum seekers to remain in Mexico during the pendency of their hearing, instead of being allowed to enter the US as required by law. The policy was an illegal Trump-era rule that Biden claimed he was unable to change due to a court ruling. But really, the reason the policy stayed was the administration’s lack of political will, and slow walking on an issue where they are afraid of a bad headline. The approach has meant a continued racist enforcement of immigration policies that shows a malicious disregard for the lives of certain asylum seekers. Nearly 2 years into his presidency, it is finally ending. By 2021 when it was temporarily suspended, the MPP had already sent 70,000 back over the border. Between Dec 2021 and July some 5,800 asylum seekers were forced to wait outside the US in increasingly dangerous conditions – made that way because of the desperation forced by this policy. The move from DHS is welcome, overdue, and somewhat surprising given the administration’s posture toward the border also shown in their hesitancy to lift Title 42. Up until now, Biden has been a-okay overseeing a border that is just as militarized and inhumane as it was under Donald Trump, and this won’t be enough to undo it.

5. Police never increase safety – materials support for people reduces crime.  

The Biden administration recently announced its “Safer America Plan” – a $30 billion spending for 100,000 new police officers around the country. Police do not make us safe, and do not reduce crime. As many have pointed out, this becomes less surprising when considering the history of police and policing – which was never to reduce crime as we understand it, but rather to return slaves to plantations, ie, protect white supremacy and capital. Not only have studies continually shown that increased police leads to increased crime, the amount of reported, and unreported crimes committed by police and police guards themselves make it clear that the institution is not the answer to reducing crime. While tough on crime policies fail time and time again to actually keep people safe, they do destroy lives by getting people enmeshed in the criminal legal system that exploits them for their time, money, and in many cases their labor. The root cause of many petty crimes is a lack of material support in society. Not shockingly, localities around the country that have piloted programs, including providing cash payments to those in need, have found a marked reduction in crime. Each year, the amount of money stolen from employees in wage theft outstrips the amount stolen in petty theft multiple times over. Good jobs that actually meet one’s needs are hard to come by and the US lacks essentially any basic social support. Courts, legislatures, and even the White House, seem to believe more spending on police and policing is the way to go. And at a time when millions are being criminalized for seeking basic healthcare, this is even more dangerous. Bringing people to an abolitionist understanding is incredibly important, only when we invest in people and communities and not police and incarceration, will we actually solve social problems. 

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