Saturday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of thirty-two. Sunrise is 7:00 AM and sunset 5:17 PM, for 10h 16m 59s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 99% of its visible disk illuminated.
Whitewater’s annual Polar Plunge for Special Olympics takes place today at the Cravath lakefront, 341 S. Fremont Street (link to map). Check-in and registration begin at 10 AM, with a chili cook-off at 11 AM, and the opening ceremony and plunging beginning at Noon.
Scenes from plunges across Wisconsin —
On this day in 1858, a Wisconsin Congressman starts a fight in the House:
On February 8, 1858, Wisconsin Rep. John Potter (considered a backwoods hooligan by Southern aristocrats) leaped into a fight on the House floor. When Potter embarrassed a pro-slavery brawler by pulling off his wig, the gallery shouted that he’d taken a Southern scalp. Potter emerged from the melee covered in blood and marked by slave owners as an enemy.
Recommended for reading in full —
First, low unemployment numbers are hiding widespread economic precarity. As my colleagues Martha Ross and Nicole Bateman pointed out, 44% of jobs in the U.S. pay so little that workers can barely afford to live. The stories we heard corroborate these statistics.
“The pay is not as high as I thought it would be,” a 23-year-old gas station manager told us. “I tell my husband, ‘I’m working my butt off there and I have to live check to check.’”
Many of the workers we spoke to expressed anxiety about their lack of a financial cushion to weather emergencies. “I don’t have the greatest car in the world,” one 25-year-old grocery worker said. “It is old and it’s probably going to break down on me soon, which would suck because I need it for work. I keep trying to save and I can’t. I’m constantly worried about it.”
Low-wage workers in expensive regions such as the Bay Area described going to great lengths to stay afloat, from living in groups in tight quarters to commuting long distances to working multiple jobs. The lesson? Employment only matters if workers can access quality jobs.
Second, rising wages mean little if workers can’t get enough hours or qualify for benefits. Many grocery and retail workers voiced frustration that their employers were raising hourly pay but making it harder for workers to get enough hours to pay their bills and—importantly—to qualify for health benefits. “In 18 years, I never got a full-time position, never,” one cashier lamented. “I can’t survive with 24 hours [a week].” A grocery manager said that so few of her colleagues get full-time hours, doing so is like winning the lottery: “[That’s] why you’re constantly seeing, ‘We’re hiring!’ But you can’t give me 40 hours.”
The wide gap between Trump’s State of the Union address and the reality of workers’ lives is illustrated by far more than compensation and employment figures. The working class today faces historic inequality in both power and prosperity. A more equitable economy that truly delivers for working people requires a rebalancing of that power, and policy changes to address the structural forces that exclude workers from shared prosperity.