Category Archives: economic issues

Economic Justice: A Real Living Wage for all New Yorkers

In 2011, we joined faith coalitions like the Micah Institute in the Living Wage NYC Campaign, and we continue to support the Fight for $15. Still, we know that even a substantial increase in the minimum wage is no substitute for a real living wage.

According to a 2014 report by the Women’s Center for Education and Career Advancement titled Overlooked and Uncounted: The Struggle to Make Ends Meet in New York City, over 940,000 New York City households lack enough income to cover the bare necessities of life. Women and people of color with higher levels of education still struggle with income inadequacy. In even our least expensive neighborhoods, the wage a mother needs to support herself and one child without public assistance is several dollars more than $20 per hour. A higher percentage of NYC households survive on an insufficient income than in Mississippi and several other states.

A Faith-Rooted Response 

The Micah Faith Table, a coalition of multi-faith leaders from across New York, is launching the Real Living Wage NYC Campaign to address these and other unjust economic issues. The goal of the campaign is to ensure that all workers in New York City receive at least $20 an hour–the wage required to meet basic needs without government subsidies. In other words, the aim is to trans­form the minimum wage in our city into a Real Living Wage.

Religious communities play a vital role in establishing economic justice for the whole society. Scriptures of every time, place, and faith cry out on behalf of the poor, seeking justice as well as mercy. In a critical sense, houses of faith form a unified moral body in our city, and aim to make that unity manifest by transforming a faith-based vision into reality. That is why the foundation for the Real Living Wage Campaign is being built in the interfaith religious community.

Join in Solidarity

As a secular progressive organization that builds coalitions with faith-based groups on behalf of economic justice, we encourage you to read more about the campaign here. Help make New York City a leader as a Real Living Wage City!


On Endorsements and Priorities

As we move toward the 2016 presidential election, we’re often asked to commit to candidates and engage in campaigns. We think it’s important to state our position:

Greater NYC for Change is an issue-based, grassroots organization focused on promoting everyday social and political change. While we have always supported candidates who share our commitment to progressive change, we do not issue formal endorsements, nor do we actively engage in primary elections. Individual members of our organization are, of course, able to support candidates of their choice, but such support should not be seen as representative of the organization as a whole.

We look forward to a robust debate of ideas that will sharpen positions and produce more effective national candidates in 2016.

Meanwhile, we’ll be working at city and state levels on the issues that matter to us:
  • The Fight for $15 and a union. A real living wage.
  • Reducing income inequality.
  • Ending the influence of accumulated power and wealth in elections.
  • Concrete solutions to a looming climate crisis.
  • Full funding for public eduction.
  • Affordable and supportive housing.
  • Passing GENDA and insuring statewide rights for trans people.
  • Campaign Zero.
  • Prison reform- and clemency for the many who deserve a second chance.
  • Recognizing and dismantling our nation’s systemic racism. #BlackLivesMatter.

Money for Schools

money for schools

It’s about fairness–and futures.  

In a recent open letter to Governor Cuomo, seven illustrious New York State Teachers of the Year urged him to look beyond test scores to see why students fail in school. Beyond the “achievement gap,” they noted, is “an income gap, a health-care gap, a housing gap, a family gap and a safety gap, just to name a few.”
The problem is poverty–and its root cause is the failure to allocate resources in communities that most need them. Today, New York State  has the most economically and racially segregated classrooms in the nation. Unless we change the way our money is spent, we’ll continue on the same path.
Money matters for educational outcomes. A study released this week by the Alliance for Quality Education and the Public Policy and Education Fund of New York shows that New York City’s public schools are owed $2.5 billion in funding, or $2,667 per student. That’s huge. That’s smaller classroom sizes, libraries, art programs, special learning programs, safer and more secure spaces. Above all, it’s the future of kids.

The educational needs of our state’s and city’s students will be determined by the budget decided in Albany this March 31st.

We urge you to demand that the governor fully and fairly fund our public schools. #WeCan’tWait. Our kids’ futures can’t wait. At stake are the multiple gaps that begin and end in poverty.
Get engaged. Read the report. Join the campaignPetition the governor. And join the Moral Mondays commitment to fairness in education.

Remember: The budget is a moral document.


Convinced? Yes. Now Let’s Motivate Him.

“You’ve convinced me. Now go out and make me do it.”

FDR to supporters

New Day New York

Join us in a massive rally and march to celebrate our progressive election victory and remind New York politicians that they work for everyone–not just the rich. Together, let’s call for policies that end NYC’s “tale of two cities”: raise the minimum wage to a real living wage, tax high-income earners to fund education, increase and mandate affordable housing in residential development, and stop tax giveaways to big business. Let’s make NYC work for #allofus!

When: Thursday, December 5, starting at 4pm
Where: Foley Square (J or Z trains to Chambers Street or 4, 5, or 6 to Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall)

For details, go to the New Day New York website.

This is the Tea Party’s World—We’re Just Living in It. Barely.

Here’s the GOP’s rationalization for the sequester:

…Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington State, the chairwoman of the Republican conference, also called the cuts “devastating” to America, but said that Republicans in the House would not yield on the issue of taxes.

“Spending is the problem, which means cutting spending is the solution,” she said. “It’s that simple.”

Let’s take a look at President Obama’ spending in historical comparison. As you can see in the chart below, President Obama has presided over the lowest rate of government spending in a very long time.



How does US government spending compare with that of other members of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)? (NOTE: All figures below reflect the situation BEFORE the sequester cuts began to be implemented.)


Social Spending

The US was ranked number 22 out of 30 in terms of social spending as a percentage of GDP in 2012:

Public Social Spending as a Percentage of GDP

France 29.9
Denmark 29.5
Belgium 28.6
Austria 28.1
Finland 28.0
Sweden 26.5
Italy 26.4
Germany 25.8
Portugal 25.4
Spain 25.3
Slovenia 23.7
Luxembourg 23.6
Greece 23.1
United Kingdom 22.9
Norway 22.4
OECD-34 22.1
Hungary 22.1
New Zealand 21.8
Netherlands 21.5
Poland 21.1
Czech Republic 20.4
Ireland 19.8
United States 19.5
Canada 19.3
Switzerland 18.5
Estonia 17.3
Slovak Republic 17.0
Australia 16.1
Israel 15.7
Iceland 14.0
Korea 9.7

(Source: OECD)



Meanwhile, US military spending represents 43.3% of the world’s total in that category—by far the highest of any country on earth. Many in the GOP tried to prevent cuts to military spending in the recent showdown over the sequester, and there are reports that the GOP will attempt to return military spending to its pre-sequester levels in the upcoming Continuing Resolution. Clearly, as far as the GOP is concerned, all spending is created equal, but some is more equal than others.



Social Consequences

What have we been getting for our money?

As you can see in the chart below, we have the highest poverty rate of any of the OECD countries listed below.


Relative poverty rate in the United States and selected OECD countries, late 2000s


Source: EPI


Similarly, we have the highest child poverty rate of any developed country in the OECD.

Child poverty rate in selected developed countries, 2009


Source: EPI


Moreover, US social welfare spending is less effective in reducing the relative poverty rate than that in any other OECD country listed below.

Extent to which taxes and transfer programs reduce the relative poverty rate, selected OECD countries, late 2000s

RelPovrtyRateByTransfers2000s Source: EPI


The relationship between our relatively meager social spending and our poverty rate indicates that the low level of the former is related to the high level of the latter.

Social expenditure and relative poverty rates in selected OECD countries, late 2000s


Source: EPI


Life Expectancy

 According to the CIA Factbook, the United States ranks 51st out of 222 countries, behind every Western European country, Japan, Australia, Hong Kong and even Bosnia and Herzegovina.


 Teenage Pregnancy

 The US has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy of the 25 countries ranked by the CIA Factbook. A graphic representation of this data can be found here.


 Taxation Rates

Meanwhile, the GOP is adamantly opposed to raising taxes to reduce the deficits and debt. Their refusal to allow any taxes to rise led them to prevent any alternative to the sequester to come up for a vote in Congress. What do US tax rates look like compared to other OECD countries?

US taxes as a percentage of GDP are lower than those of any countries except Turkey, Chile and Mexico, as shown below:


So the GOP has forced arbitrary, indiscriminant and draconian spending cuts on the US government at a time when (a) we’re already spending at a much lower level than any other US administration since Eisenhower; and (b) our very low rate of social spending is strongly correlated with our very high rates of poverty, teenage pregnancy and relatively low life expectancy. They have done so while refusing to allow a penny more in tax increases, despite the fact that the US already has one of the lowest rates of individual taxation of any industrialized country.


Economic Effects of the Sequester

It is estimated that the sequester cuts will cause 750,000 people to lose their jobs in 2013 alone. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated that the cuts will reduce GDP in 2013 by about half of a percentage point—this at a time when unemployment is about 8% and GDP growth is about 2.5%. The CBO estimates further that the economy will go into recession for much of 2013 as a result of the cuts.

Here are the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) estimates of the programs that will be cut:

  • Aircraft purchases by the Air Force and Navy are cut by $3.5 billion.
  • Military operations across the services are cut by about $13.5 billion.
  • Military research is cut by $6.3 billion.
  • The National Institutes of Health get cut by $1.6 billion.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are cut by about $323 million.
  • Border security is cut by about $581 million.
  • Immigration enforcement is cut by about $323 million.
  • Airport security is cut by about $323 million.
  • Head Start gets cut by $406 million, kicking 70,000 kids out of the program.
  • FEMA’s disaster relief budget is cut by $375 million.
  • Public housing support is cut by about $1.94 billion.
  • The FDA is cut by $206 million.
  • NASA gets cut by $970 million.
  • Special education is cut by $840 million.
  • The Energy Department’s program for securing our nukes is cut by $650 million.
  • The National Science Foundation gets cut by about $388 million.
  • The FBI gets cut by $480 million.
  • The federal prison system gets cut by $355 million.
  • State Department diplomatic functions are cut by $650 million.
  • Global health programs are cut by $433 million; the Millenium Challenge Corp. sees a $46 million cut, and USAID a cut of about $291 million.
  • The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is cut by $55 million.
  • The SEC is cut by $75.6 million.
  • The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is cut by $2.6 million.
  • The Library of Congress is cut by $31 million.
  • The Patent and Trademark office is cut by $156 million.

(Source: Wonkblog

New Yorkers To Deliver Petition to Governor Cuomo on Election Day. Over 2,000 New Yorkers Signed Petition for Millionaire’s Tax at Occupy Wall Street.

Last month, some Greater NYC for Change members jumped into a uniquely independent, collaborative political action project at Occupy Wall Street.  We encourage you to join this group Tuesday to deliver petition signatures at “Occupy for Education.”  Help send a strong message to Cuomo on the Millionaire’s Tax!

WHEN:            Tuesday, November 8, 3:30-5:30

WHERE:          Governor Cuomo’s NYC office, 633 3rd Avenue b/w 41st & 42nd St.

New Yorkers To Deliver Petition to Governor Cuomo on Election Day. Over 2,000 New Yorkers Signed Petition for Millionaire’s Tax at Occupy Wall Street.

On Election Day, Tuesday, November 8 at his New York City office, Governor Andrew Cuomo will receive over 2,000 signatures from constituents arguing for extending the Millionaire’s Tax beyond December 31, 2011.

The signatures were collected by an unaffiliated group of activists at a “Political Action Table” in Zuccotti Park, the heart of the Occupy Wall Street protests. The table occupied a spot in the park from October 2 through October 30, and volunteers gathered signatures for fair taxation and against hydro-fracking, offered voter registration forms, and provided phone numbers for constituents to speak out to elected officials.

While Occupy Wall Street has no legislative agenda, activists at the Political Action Table found themselves welcomed and encouraged by the culture of free speech and community engagement at Zuccotti Park. A diverse group of volunteers, occupiers, and curious newcomers engaged in passionate conversations about rising economic disparity and tax policy. The overwhelming sentiment favoring the existing millionaire’s tax is a limited but vital and immediate response to the international movement for solidarity with the 99%. Many who signed the petitions expressed deep concern for school children, seniors, the disabled, and public sector employees who face almost $5 billion in additional budget cuts if the tax ends as planned.

The Millionaire’s Tax, once thought a dead issue, has been revived by voices rising from the Occupy Wall Street movement. At the now-daily marches and rallies throughout New York, slogans against “Governor 1%” have framed a stark contrast between the governor’s position on the Millionaire’s Tax and the views of the majority of his constituents. A recent Siena poll found that 72% of New Yorkers prefer that the Governor set aside political pressure from the richest taxpayers and uphold his responsibility to all New Yorkers by extending the tax surcharge.

The unaffiliated group who collected the signatures will deliver them while joining the “Occupy for Education” event at Governor Cuomo’s New York City office at 633 Third Avenue this Tuesday, Election Day, at 3:30 p.m. The event is intended to raise awareness of the $1.4 billion in cuts for New York City schools alone that will result from the tax cut for the most affluent taxpayers. The event organizers point out that budget cuts will further deprive students of their basic right to education promised by elected leaders so as to ensure a stable and thriving society.

The letter accompanying the petitions calls on the governor to “act as you have in the past, as a leader who responds to the needs of constituents, even when that means going against a powerful minority.” “Your constituents,” it continues, “overwhelmingly support a continuation of the “Millionaire’s Tax” surcharge that allows New York State to uphold its obligations to fund vital services, avoid further job losses in the public sector, and respond to the needs of the 99%.”

Further information about the Political Action Table at Occupy Wall Street can be found at