Pema Levy

Pema Levy is an assistant editor at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

Maine GOP to Teens: Work More, Earn Less

Amanda Terkel at the Huffington Post reports that House Republicans in Maine have proposed legislation to loosen protective child labor laws. The proposed bill, LD 1346, would reduce the minimum wage for anyone under the age of 20 from $7.20 per hour to $5.25 per hour for the first 180 days of work while, for students, the law “eliminates the maximum number of hours a minor 16 years of age or older can work on a school day and allows a minor under the age of 16 to work up to four hours on a school day.” Essentially, Republicans are looking to reduce teens to a large pool of low-wage labor. For students who need to make money, the law is a trap. If you’re making less money per hour, you would now have to work more hours to make the same amount of money. Moreover, those criticizing the bill say it could lead to “15-hour days for students who should be prioritizing education,” which could have serious ramifications for students. In 2009, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that 71...

When Discrimination Is a Passive Activity

Today, the Supreme Court heard the largest gender-discrimination case in history. In Wal-Mart v. Dukes , the Court will decide whether a class-action suit brought by 1.5 million female employees of the retail giant will be allowed to proceed with their action – or whether, as Wal-Mart argues -- the class is too big. Victoria Pynchon at Forbes has a great piece on the importance of social science in this case, noting that the argument against Wal-Mart contains seminal testimony from sociologist William T. Bielby : Bielby opined in the lower court that all of the class members were treated unfairly in pay and promotions even though he did not review the individual personnel decisions. In his report to the Court, Bielby opined that “[s]ubjective and discretionary features of the company’s personnel policy and practice ma[d]e decisions about compensation and promotion vulnerable to gender bias.” He also asserted that there were “significant deficiencies in the company’s policies and...

Before Her Time

Elizabeth Taylor was just too confident, sexual, and talented for her generation. And things haven't changed much today.

An undated file photo of actress Elizabeth Taylor dressed in costume for her film The VIPs. (Press Association via AP Images)
When the actress Elizabeth Taylor died on Wednesday at the age of 79, headlines across the country remembered her for the qualities they obsessed over while she was alive: her looks. One of the last curvy females before our obsession with thinness took over Hollywood, Taylor had the title of most beautiful woman in the world as a young star. As she grew older, we remembered her looks while commenting on her aging appearance and fluctuating weight. So it was entirely appropriate that fake-news outlet The Onion announced her death by mocking the media's fixation with her appearance: "Georgeous 25-Year-Old Dead at 79." Elizabeth Taylor was a celebrity of a magnitude we don't see today. She entered the national spotlight at age 12, acted in over 50 films, suffered nearly fatal ailments, and married more times than Henry VIII. Judged for how she chose to live her life, she never apologized for her unconventional choices, although her eight marriages would still elicit conservative panic...

Erasing Labor History in Maine

Maine's new Tea Party governor, Paul LePage , is going after more than union workers' pensions and right-to-work legislation. He is going to remove a mural depicting the history of labor in Maine from the state's Labor Department building. The mural, which depicts local strikes and Rosie the Riveter, is one-sided, LePage claims. The artist has countered that it's not biased; it simply depicts historical events. A LePage spokesman says the move is meant to be neutral to business and to affirm the pro-business attitude of the administration, a move which doesn't seem necessary given his policies toward unions and worker benefits. But the decision makes a lot of sense in the context of the recent attacks on labor. Like in Wisconsin, what was so disturbing about Gov. Walker's proposal is that it didn't just ask for concessions; it attempted to wipe out public-sector unions. So it's not surprising that LePage would also try to wipe labor from memory as well. In addition to removing the...

South Dakota Places New Restrictions on Abortion

Today, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed his state’s latest anti-abortion bill (the Legislature recently tabled a bill that could classify killing an abortion provider as "justifiable homicide). Anti-abortion laws are generally insulting to women’s intelligence, but this law is especially so: It increases the mandatory waiting period to obtain an abortion from 24 hours to 72 hours and requires women to have a counseling session at a pregnancy health center -- all restrictions premised on the idea that women don't know what they're getting into and need help making up their feeble minds. As of 2008, there were only two abortion providers in the entire state of South Dakota, and 76 percent of women lived in counties without an abortion provider. In South Dakota, seeking out an abortion often involves significant travel and planning. If a South Dakota woman seeks an abortion, she’s already jumped over plenty of hurdles, and the 72-hour waiting period is just another one...

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