The United States is one of just a handful of countries in the world that doesn’t guarantee paid sick or family leave. For  affluent workers, this isn’t a big problem — in many cases, their employers offer it.

But for low-wage workers, as Sarah Anderson writes this week, it’s another story. In an emergency, she writes, “people who are already earning less than a living wage may have no choice but to drop out of the workforce entirely.” Could the Build Back Better Act change that? Maybe, she explains — but it’s an uphill climb.

Speaking of the Build Back Better Act, do you know what’s in it? If you do, surveys show you’re the exception. This week in OtherWords, Sonali Kolhatkar unpacks polling data suggesting that the Build Back Better Act should be very popular, but the mainstream media is failing to inform voters about it — hewing instead to overblown cost concerns and “horse race” politics.

Also this week, Jill Richardson reports on lessons for our broader politics from animal conservation fights. Jim Hightower worries about robot police dogs. And cartoonist Khalil Bendib sums up the dynamic at the UN climate conference.

New This Week…

Wealthy Americans Get Paid Leave. Shouldn’t the Rest? | Sarah Anderson
The fight to guarantee paid sick time and family leave faces an uphill battle, but advocates aren’t giving up.

Upend This Damaging Narrative About Spending | Sonali Kolhatkar
Polls say Americans should love the Build Back Better Act — but most are only hearing talking points about its price tag.

What a Debate Over Grizzly Bears Shows About Politics | Jill Richardson
On even the most arcane issues, people talk past each other. But there’s another way.

AI That Will Bite Us in the Butt | Jim Hightower
The latest dystopian tech craze? Robotic police dogs.

Making Noise at COP26 | Khalil Bendib
These meddlesome young people sure act entitled to a habitable planet.

In Case You Missed It…

Rediscovering the Power of Unions | Rebekah Entralgo
Better wages and health care may always face headwinds in Washington, but unions are striking to win them directly.

The United States of Tax Havens | William Minter
Like our billionaires at home, foreign oligarchs and despots are sheltering untold sums from taxation across our country.

Do Any Republicans Still Support Democracy? | Jill Richardson
The GOP should heed Churchill’s warning about appeasing authoritarians: “Each one hopes that if he feeds the crocodile enough, it will eat him last.”

When Wall Street Came to My Mobile Home Park | Francine Townsend
Mobile homes provide affordable housing for millions. But for private equity firms, they’re just another asset to squeeze for profit.

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Peter Certo

Peter Certo is the editorial manager of the Institute for Policy Studies and editor of

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