Today’s News & Commentary — January 20, 2017

Buzzfeed reported yesterday that Andy Puzder, President-Elect Trump’s nominee for Labor Secretary, has been blocking workers’ rights advocates on Twitter. In recent weeks Puzder has blocked the Twitter accounts of the National Employment Law Project, the Fight for $15, SEIU president Mary Kay Henry, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and others. Those blocked are prevented from responding directly to anything that Pudzer tweets.

In the New York Times Peter Goodman has a scathing critique of the Davos approach to addressing inequality and the negative impacts of globalization on working people. Goodman writes, “They [attendees at the World Economic Forum] are eager to talk about how to set things right, soothing the populist fury by making globalization a more lucrative proposition for the masses…What is striking is what generally is not discussed: bolstering the power of workers to bargain for better wages and redistributing wealth from the top to the bottom.”

In a new book The Unbanking of America, author Lisa Servon argues that the best way to reduce use of alternative financial services such as payday lenders and check-cashing, which charge high fees and interest rates and are regularly used by people with low incomes, is not to make them illegal but to increase wages so that working people do not need them.

And The Equality of Opportunity Project just released a comprehensive study on education and its impact on social mobility. The study, which used anonymized data on 30 million college graduates, found that state universities are doing the best job at helping students from low-income households move into the middle class. According to a recent New York Times article, Ivy league schools fare worse. While students from low income backgrounds do experience upward mobility from attending top-tier, private schools, these schools take on relatively few students from low-income communities. At some private universities, there are more students from families whose incomes put them in the top 1% of Americans, than students from the bottom 60%. Though state colleges provide great economic opportunities for students from poorer families, the share of low-income students even at public universities is decreasing as states cut back on funding.