Report Examines Results Of Potential Planned Parenthood Defunding, Making Dinner Easier And Tastier, The Future Of The Work Day

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As part of their assessment of the new American Health Care Act, the Congressional Budget Office noted that defunding Planned Parenthood would result in more births across the country. We look into the implications of that, and other possible consequences the cut could bring. Two labor experts say that with technology rapidly changing the workforce, it’s time to rethink the work day. They join us to explain why they’re calling for fewer hours and higher pay. Plus, a food writer shares ideas for making dinner simpler and more delicious.

Featured in this Show

  • CBO Says Defunding Planned Parenthood Would Lead To More Births

    Funding for Planned Parenthood has been a consistent target for the GOP. The Congressional Budget Office’s report on the impacts of the new Republican American Health Care Act says that defunding that organization would lead to more births. We look at the implications.

  • New York Times Food Writer Is Out To Make Dinner Easier And More Tasty

    New York Times food writer Melissa Clark joins us to give us recipes for simple, outstanding dishes that can stand alone as a satisfying dinner.

  • US Workers Need To Work Less And Be Paid More, Labor Researchers Say

    Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is at its lowest point in 16 years.

    In metro areas, such as Madison, the jobless rate is at 3 percent — the lowest in the state, which has a 3.9 percent jobless rate. But even with these solid reports of job gains, labor historians from Rutgers University say Americans are strung out, working too many hours for too little pay.

    “Certainly, some people are making a lot more money. But for most of us, wages are stagnating. We’re having to work harder just to stay in place,” said Dorothy Sue Cobble, a distinguished professor of labor studies and history at Rutgers.

    Cobble has studied the early labor movements in the United States from the 19th century to the early 20th century.

    “I think we’ve seen profits go up. I think there’s room for redistribution of some of those profits,” Cobble said. “I also think when people are paid more it’s actually better for everybody. It spurs the economy. It spurs growth. It’s a win-win situation.”

    The average worker who entered the workforce 40 years ago has lost more than $500,000 in productivity gains, said Michael Merrill, a Rutgers University professor of professional practice. Merrill also directs the university’s Labor Education and Research Now initiative.

    From World War II to 1980, as productivity rose, so did real wages. Since 1980, worker wages have stalled out as productivity trends upward. Merrill points to structural flaws in the labor market that need to be remedied.

    “We have started to organize our society like a game of musical chairs. We purposefully don’t have enough chairs,” Merrill said. “Some people with ringside seats that are already reserved for them, they get to laugh at the rest of us who fight and claw to get the few (jobs) that are left.”

    The diminishment of worker’s rights and bargaining power contribute to the stagnant wages among working-class Americans, Merrill said.

    Meanwhile, economic moves such as right-to-work laws are accused of being detrimental to improving the compensation outlook for U.S. workers. These laws that prohibit labor unions and employers from requiring employees to pay union dues as a condition of employment are on the books in 28 states, including Wisconsin. A national right-to-work bill is under consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives.

    “Unions are essential for bargaining in large organizations, but unionizing has fallen quite sharply and much of our individual bargaining power is a function of the structure of the market, which is what we need to change,” Merrill said.

    Cobble compares the most economically developed countries, like Germany, to the U.S. to show working fewer hours still keeps productivity strong. Workers in Germany have six weeks of mandatory vacation, Cobble said, and their economy doesn’t take a hit.

    “It makes them more productive. They work about 1,400 hours a year. We work about 1,800 hours a year. They’re producing just as much or more,” Cobble said.

    Merrill finds the work Americans are doing and the pay they’re getting in return is often very skewed. In part, he blames a flawed structure in the U.S. job market for not treating unemployment as a serious problem.

    “We need to treat unemployment as a public health emergency and respond to any case of unemployment the same way we’d respond to a case of cholera. We’d cure it. We’d make sure that the system worked so it didn’t happen, and there are ways of doing that,” Merrill said.

    Merrill said he thinks a step in the right direction for the U.S. economy will be when American workers can walk away from a bad job with bad pay because there’s a better job available to them.

  • The Future Of Work: More Pay For Fewer Hours?

    Automation and technology are changing many jobs, and making others obsolete–so what does the future of work look like? Two experts on labor say one solution is to create shorter work weeks–with higher pay.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Producer
  • Veronica Rueckert Producer
  • Rob Ferrett Producer
  • Sandhya Somashekhar Guest
  • Melissa Clark Guest
  • Dorothy Cobble Guest
  • Michael Merrill Guest
  • Veronica Rueckert Interviewer

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