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Varjavand: A controversial plan to deter rising income inequality

Numerous books have been written about economic inequality, especially in the aftermath of the Great Recession, but none has received as much attention from the academic community as “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” by French economist Thomas Piketty. The depth and breadth of analyses presented …

Shaw: Trying to get the governor candidates’ stances on major issues

One of television’s hottest dramas is playing out daily here in Illinois. No, it’s not “The Good Wife,” “Shameless” or “Chicago Fire,” and “Breaking Bad” isn’t coming back with a Windy City setting. I’m talking about the rock ‘em, sock ‘em, neck-and-neck race for governor, …

Teachers should stop ‘flopping’ on the job

As an English teacher, I have never had to consult either a calendar or a wristwatch to know when the last week of the semester arrived. The more reliable indicator was when colleagues started telling me, one by one, how severely overwhelmed they were by …

How Illinois voters next month can help crime victims

From the moment the world was exposed to the now-infamous video of NFL player Ray Rice knocking out his fiancee during an elevator ride, domestic violence in our communities has made headlines across the nation. Americans learned that domestic violence is a real, existing threat …

Reeder: State has no answers on budget for college aid program

So how many of your dollars are being spent on providing free college educations for state workers? We don’t know — and that should outrage you. We know that in past budgets, the state has spent $5 million on the program known as Upward Mobility. …

Resolving an epidemic of plagiarism

As a former employee of a term paper mill, I usually can tell when someone is attempting to disguise another person’s writing as their own, rather like one of those computer hackers hired by the FBI to help catch other hackers. I’ve long since been …

In Illinois government, it’s often not what you know but who you know that gets you hired or lands you that lucrative contract. It has been that way under Republicans and under Democrats. Jobs and contracts are divvied out after every election like the spoils …

Reeder: U.S. economic recovery mostly skips Illinois

For every new job created in Illinois since January 2010, two people have signed up for food stamps. That’s just sad. OK, it’s pathetic. And this is happening during a period that has been labeled as an “economic recovery.” But the fact of the matter …

Shaw: Pension crisis hits Cook County suburbs, too

Unless you’ve been living in the Deep Tunnel, you’ve probably heard that the state of Illinois is facing a daunting public employee pension crisis and Chicago schools and city government are tiptoeing around similar fiscal land mines that could blow up in the faces of …

Reeder: More accepted to U of I saying ‘no thanks’

More often than not, when students receive an admission letter from the University of Illinois, they opt to attend another university. That’s a sad state of affairs for Illinois’ flagship university. The U of I is a terrific school. My father graduated from its Urbana-Champaign …

McGrath: The color of privilege, the color of doubt

When I was pulled over by police many years ago on a remote stretch of Illinois 171 at 1 a.m., I was the same age as Michael Brown. Brown was the 18-year-old black teenager shot and killed Aug. 9 by officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, …

Taxi firms’ clout may kill cab competition in Chicago

Awhile back, I took a cab to Chicago’s Navy Pier and attempted to pay for my ride with a credit card. My effort was greeted with a torrent of obscenities. The driver didn’t want to take my card despite a placard of regulations in the …

Legislators need to override Quinn speed-limit veto

The Illinois General Assembly in May passed Senate Bill 2015 by “veto-proof” majorities of 48-6 in the Senate and 111-4 in the House. The law would raise the speed limit on all Illinois tollways to 70 mph. But despite the overwhelming support for this bill, …

Labor unions can bridge income gap

Hard work has been my family’s religion, and our church the union hall. And Labor Day is our most sacred holiday of the year. It started when I was 11 and was offered my first job as a shoeshine boy at Link’s Barber Shop on …

Harris v. Quinn: Is it setback or boost for labor?

When the U.S. Supreme Court this summer weakened labor protections for about 26,000 home-care providers in Illinois, most analysts characterized the decision as a dire portent for unions representing low-wage workers. So here’s what happened next — the day after the ruling in Harris v. …

Reeder: Parents deserve greater educational choice

I was chatting the other day with a fellow who, along with his wife, home-schools his children. He explained the benefits that he believes his youngsters have derived from being taught at home — a customized curriculum, religious values instilled and extra time with parents. …