C4AD (Cincinnatians for the American Dream), published by Buster Media LLC, exists to promote public understanding of workplace justice issues in Cincinnati using the tools, standards, and ethics of journalism.
We focus first on instances in which employers fail to pay their workers. There is a flood of cases in the Cincinnati area that accuse employers of violating minimum wage and overtime laws, falsifying time cards, and wrongfully taking employees’ tips. Worker advocates call these practices “wage theft,” insisting it has become far too prevalent.
Wage theft gouges workers, steals from taxpayers, and cheats competitors. It also violates the social contract— among workers, employers, shareholders, government, taxpayers and consumers—necessary for the American Dream.
That is the dream of a social and economic order in which each man and woman, regardless of the circumstances of their birth, can achieve according to their talent and hard work and thereby make a better life for themselves and their children.
As a nation and a city, our shared values and identity, our social cohesion draw their strength from the promises of this social contract.
We are concerned that wage theft is symptomatic of a larger worldview that has come to dominate our current thinking — a worldview that values individual freedom, free markets, and profit far above equality and collective social interests and that devalues the contributions of workers, taxpayers, and government. It is not a capitalism of shared purpose and prosperity that prevailed during World War II and the decades after. Rather it is a capitalism that rejects the social contract.
Many people have become disconnected from our economy and the American experience. They have become marginalized, no longer necessary for the operation of the economy. They see no plausible future for themselves or their children. If there is a social contract for some, it is not for them.
Many Baby Boomers enjoyed the fruits of this American Dream. But subsequent generations are increasingly mistrustful or cynical of its promise. They see how today’s capitalism excels at cheap goods and powerful marketing but proves itself inadequate or an obstacle to pressing issues like poverty wages, inequality, or global warming. And as companies offshore jobs, profits, and strategic manufacturing, they also question the national allegiance of such companies.
We create the social and economic order we want by the policies we adopt. Our future like our past is a product of the choices we make. We can, if we choose, harness the extraordinary power of our economy to re-balance our commitment to both freedom and equality.
Through the issue of workplace justice, C4AD will explore how to renew the social contract to expand economic opportunities, reduce poverty, and promote fairness, while rewarding individual talent, initiative, and hard work.
We hope you join the conversation.