A consumer advocacy group says it's time to ban the word "natural" from food labels because it's misleading. But the quest to get the government to outlaw the word entirely faces tough legal hurdles.
The economic disparity between the common man and the politician is as old as democracy itself. In 64 BC when Cicero was running for consul of the Roman Republic, his brother is believed to have written what could be called the first electioneering handbook.
“One question I think people should be asking is does it matter that politicians are so much better off than the people they are supposed to represent,” says Nicholas Carnes, the author of "White Collar Government: The Hidden Roles of Class in Economic Policy Making." “And what I find is that yeah, it really does matter. Politicians, who don’t have experience doing working class jobs really do think differently, vote differently, and introduce different kinds of legislation than the few politicians who do know what it’s like to be a blue collar worker.”
Carnes says that the average member of Congress spent 1.5 percent of his pre-Congress career working in manual labor or service industry jobs, a percentage that has changed little over the last 100 years.
But talking about that divide can be a political landmine as evidenced by Hillary Clinton’s recent claim that she and her husband were “dead broke” when they left the White House.
Alex Gourevitch teaches political Science at Brown. He says the politicians who are best at pretending to be equal are the ones who avoid talking about their own wealth at all, or emphasize their humble beginnings, like John Edwards for example, who campaigned not as a wealthy attorney, but as the son of a mill worker.
Another strategy is to be upfront about wealth as Romney did during his bid for the presidency.
Here's Bill Clinton discussing his life before he was an attorney in 2008.
And here's Jimmy Cater in a campaign commercial from 1976:
A new Brookings Institution report on student loan debt is causing quite a stir. It says the student loan crisis we’ve heard so much about may not be as bad as we think.
The findings are so startling, even co-author Matthew Chingos didn’t believe them at first.
“My first reaction when we ran these data was, this has to be wrong,” he says.
But Chingos re-checked the data until he was satisfied with his conclusions. Among them: monthly student loan payments have stayed at three to four percent of a borrower’s monthly income, since 1992. Chingos also says, in 2010, only two percent of young households owed more than $100,000.
“There don’t seem to be more of those than there used to be," he says. "If anything there are less.”
But Chingos says more people have student loans. Because more students are going to college. The people he really worries about? Those who never got their degree. People like Rhonda Wanzer, who at 48, has a good job with the federal government, but no college degree. She still owes about $28,000.
“I’m trying to devise a plan where I can pay it off at least before I can retire retire," she says. "I can retire in about 15, 20 years.”
Chingos insists Wanzer isn’t typical. He says most student loan borrowers do finish college, and eventually pay off their loans.
His study has its critics who say his data -- which is from the Federal Reserve -- is too limited, doesn’t count everyone, and is old.
Chingos says the Fed data is the best there is for this kind of research. And he’ll take a close look at new data when it comes out in the next six months or so.
Other researchers, using Education Department data, agree with Chingos’s conclusions.
Sandy Baum, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, says the real culprit here is high college tuitions.
"Tuition has certainly gone up rapidly, and particularly, in recent years, in public colleges and universities, ” she explains.
Chingos says soaring tuition is the disease. And student loans are just the symptom.
The law says that once "personalized" guns are available in the U.S., all handguns sold in New Jersey must be smart guns. So, to avoid triggering the law, vendors aren't selling them — anywhere.
The smiling spouse, kids and a dog once made for a perfect campaign ad. But politicians are increasingly turning to their parents to help them make the pitch to voters.
Uruguay's win against Italy was overshadowed by a bite. Once again, Luis Suarez courted controversy at a World Cup Game.
The United States has lots of coal, but most of it is buried far underground. A new method can extract it, but the environmental costs might prove too high for nearby landowners.
The American Civil Liberties Union studied 800 deployments of SWAT teams in 20 locales across the country and found most were for drug searches.
Pro-Moscow separatists shot down a Ukrainian military helicopter, killing nine servicemen, one day after the rebels vowed to respect the cease-fire.