They compared Wall Street bonuses to the total earnings of every minimum wage worker. Oh, it's sad.

In 2014, Wall Street bonuses totaled $28.5 billion.

First, congratulations, Wall Street! I'm sure you really earned each and every dollar. Now let's break that down to a figure the rest of us can wrap our heads around. According to the New York State comptroller, Wall Street employees (167,800 of them, to be exact) received an average bonus of $172,860.


My math put it at just shy of $170,000, but when you're rolling like that, what's a few thousand dollars? Especially considering this figure doesn't include their salaries, which are almost certainly very generous. But hey, they're doing God's work.

Meanwhile, in the vast land of minimum wages, a million workers earned about half as much as Wall Street made in bonuses alone.

The average Wall Street bonus is three times higher than the median U.S. household income.

While those 1 million minimum wage employees also include tipped workers who are probably earning more than the federal minimum, let's be real: A server's earnings are a far cry from a six-figure bonus on top of a six-figure salary.

$28.5 billion would be more than enough to pay living wages to millions of low-wage workers.

If the term "living wage" is new to you, here's the short of it:

A living wage is "an approximate income needed to meet a family's basic needs." Today's minimum wage doesn't even come close. According to MIT's living wage calculator website:

"The minimum wage does not provide a living wage for most American families. A typical family of four (two working adults, two children) needs to work more than 3 full-time minimum-wage jobs (a 68-hour work week per working adult) to earn a living wage."

Putting more money in the pockets of low-wage workers does more for the overall economy than Wall Street bonuses.

Before we dig in, try to put yourself in the shoes of a Wall Street worker. What are you going to buy with that $170,000 bonus? Remember, this is just extra cash on top of your salary, and all of your basic needs are well taken care of. And how much of it are you actually going to spend? Got some stuff in mind? OK, hold that thought.

Now, put yourself in the shoes of a minimum wage worker. What are you going to buy with that paycheck? Remember, housing costs will put a big dent in your finances. Then there's your utilities, and you have to eat, right? Oh, and if you have a family, it's probably dwindling even more quickly. See where I'm going with this?

The Institute for Policy Studies writes:

"Wall Street bonus season may coincide with an uptick in luxury goods sales, but a raise in the minimum wage would give America's economy a much greater boost. To meet basic needs, low-wage workers tend to spend nearly every dollar they make. The wealthy can afford to squirrel away more of their earnings. All those dollars low-wage workers spend create an economic ripple effect."

What would happen if that $28.5 billion went to low-wage workers instead?

We already know that minimum wages are barely, if at all, providing the lowest earners with what they need to get by. A modest boost in their wages from the federal minimum of $7.25 to $15 an hour would allow them to more fully meet their needs, and that spending would stimulate the economy.

The person with an extra $170,000 on hand isn't likely to spend it all because, well, there's only so much a human being needs. Sure, that might fund a vacation home, a boat, maybe some expensive trinkets — but for the most part, it just becomes accumulated wealth. And stockpiled cash does nothing for the economy.

"Every extra dollar going into the pockets of a high-income American only adds about $0.39 to the GDP. By contrast, every extra dollar going into the pockets of low-wage workers adds about $1.21 to the national economy. These pennies add up considerably on $28.5 billion in earnings."

Considerably, indeed. A wage increase totaling $28.5 billion to minimum wage workers would boost the country's gross domestic product by three times as much as the same amount going to people who are already well-off, like Wall Street employees.

Raising the minimum wage to a living wage serves everyone's interests — even the short-sighted people who would argue otherwise.

And lastly, consider this: Those massive Wall Street bonuses? Those are rewards for exactly the kind of risky decisions that tanked the economy in 2008. Doesn't that seem a little backward for a country that says it values an honest day's work?

Sumo Citrus
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Don Bay has been in the citrus business for over 50 years now, and according to him, his most recent growing endeavor has been the most challenging. Alongside his son Darren and grandson Luke, Don cultivates Sumo Citrus®, one of the most difficult fruits to grow. The Bay family runs San Joaquin Growers Ranch in Porterville, California, one of the farms where the fruit is grown in the United States.

Sumo Citrus was originally developed in Japan, and is an extraordinary hybrid of mandarin, pomelo and navel oranges.

The fruit is temperamental, and it can take time to get a thriving crop. The trees require year-round care, and it takes five years from seed to fruit until they're ready for harvest. Thanks to expert citrus growers like the Bay family though, Sumo Citrus have flourished in California. Don and his son Darren worked together through trial and error to perfect their crop of Sumo Citrus. Darren is now an expert on cultivating this famously temperamental fruit, and his son Luke is learning from him every step of the way.

Don, Darren and Luke BayAll photos courtesy of Sumo Citrus

"Luke's been involved as early as he could come out," Darren said in a YouTube video.

"Having both my son and grandson [working with me] is basically what I've dreamt about," said Don. "To have been able to develop this orchard and have them work on it and work with me — then I don't have to do all the work."

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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Public education is one of the most complex issues under normal circumstances, but the pandemic has made it far more complicated. The question of how to meet the needs of kids who come from diverse families, communities, and socioeconomic circumstances—not to mention having diverse mental strengths, interests, and challenges of their own—is never simple, and adding the difficulty of living through a pandemic with its lack of certainty, structure, and security is a whole freaking lot.

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After years of service as a military nurse in the naval Marine Corps, Los Angeles, California-resident Rhonda Jackson became one of the 37,000 retired veterans in the U.S. who are currently experiencing homelessness — roughly eight percent of the entire homeless population.

"I was living in a one-bedroom apartment with no heat for two years," Jackson said. "The Department of Veterans Affairs was doing everything they could to help but I was not in a good situation."

One day in 2019, Jackson felt a sudden sense of hope for a better living arrangement when she caught wind of the ongoing construction of Veteran's Village in Carson, California — a 51-unit affordable housing development with one, two and three-bedroom apartments and supportive services to residents through a partnership with U.S.VETS.

Her feelings of hope quickly blossomed into a vision for her future when she learned that Veteran's Village was taking applications for residents to move in later that year after construction was complete.

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The original version was peppy and sarcastic with Gwen Stefani singing in a faux pouty voice until the chorus in which she goes full '90s girl power.

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