In this week's issue of Huffington, Peter Goodman puts the spotlight on one of the under-discussed barriers to employment around the country: the fact that "getting a job and getting to a job are two different things." Goodman illustrates the predicaments and paradoxes that affect the nearly 40 million Americans who live in parts of American cities that lack public transportation: work has shifted to the suburbs, yet many of those who need the jobs cannot afford cars to make the necessary commute. We meet Lebron Stinson, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, a former delivery truck driver: "The jobs are in one place," writes Goodman, "he is in another, and the bus does not bridge the divide." Like so many of our country's infrastructure failings, the lack of public transportation is rooted in a harsh political reality. As Tom Dugan, the Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority executive director, puts it, "Most of our people are the working poor. In Chattanooga, no elected official is going to win an election based on a transit issue." In the meantime, people like Lebron Stinson are left waiting, as he puts it, "to feel like I'm part of the world again."
Elsewhere in the issue, Lynne Peeples writes about one man's environmental awakening, as he realizes just how many toxic chemicals he and his family come into contact with. Thinking back to his own childhood toys and action figures, Ed Brown says, "not once did I ever think about what those things were made out of -- the paint on them, or the plastic they were made out of, or the stickers on the sides of them... My parents, I'm sure they didn't think about it either." After asking questions about the thousands of chemicals produced or imported into the U.S. every year -- and learning of the lax regulations that allow potentially harmful chemicals into everything from shampoos to children's Halloween costumes -- Brown took up the cause as an activist and documentary filmmaker. "The worst part, for me, was learning that our corporations, our courts, and even the government, feel that all of those chemicals inside of our bodies are completely acceptable," he says.
And Gerry Smith writes about what would seem to be an uncontroversial immigration issue -- the question of whether those who come to America and actually create jobs can stay and continue to create jobs. With the number of immigrant-founded startups in decline, it's a question with implications not only for immigrants, but for all who are affected by our ongoing jobs crisis, since immigrants are more than twice as likely to start businesses as native-born Americans. Smith introduces us to Asaf Darash, an Israeli entrepreneur who came to America and started a small business. He has 15 employees, and planned to hire more. Yet his visa renewal application has been denied, and he faces deportation. As Smith writes, the rejection stirs a range of emotions in Darash. But mostly confusion. "In his homeland of Israel, politicians fight over who can attract more foreign entrepreneurs," Smith writes. "The United States, he says, should be rolling out the welcome mat for him, not ushering him out the door."
This piece first appeared in our FREE weekly iPad magazine, Huffington, available in the iTunes App store.