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the economy

What’s Not to Like? »

The perennial arguments against raising the minimum wage Jan 7 2014

”America is going through one of its periodic fits of agony over the minimum wage” is how The Economist magazine put it. The restive workers staging demonstrations at Wal-Mart and fast food restaurants have again made a federal level wage increase a prime topic that reliably summons the arguments from economists and legislators that are always heard, with each side waving the newest study cherry-picked to support its case.

The public is more united. A November Gallup poll found that 79% were for raising the rate, true even among 58% of Republicans, who have traditionally been opposed to increases. The New Year brought an increase to 1.4 million people in thirteen states, nine of them because voters had taken charge, using ballot measures to enact laws that index their wage floor to the cost of living. The minimum is now higher in twenty states than the federal level… Read More »


Let’s Permanently End Minimum Wage Stupidity »

Jul 29 2013

Workers at fast food chains have been rebelling against their low wages. There have been demonstrations and one-day strikes in seven cities against McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell and Domino’s Pizza, with employees typically demanding that wages rise to $15 an hour. The movement is growing and has attracted financial support from unions, even though organizing the nation’s four million fast food workers is not an expressed plan.

In Washington, D.C., Wal-Mart threatened to cancel building six stores when this July the city council passed a “living wage”measure that would require the giant chain to pay wages of $12.50 an hour.

Wal-Mart Wins Again: Sept 11: The D.C. mayor vetoed the bill that would have required Wal-Mart to pay $12.50 an hour calling it a "job-killer".

Workers are reminded constantly of the huge pay increases awarded the heads of their companies, but have seen no upward movement in their own… Read More »

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Food Stamps, Meet the Minimum Wage »

One high, the other low. Congress never makes the connection Feb 24 2013

Food stamps come in for particular ire from some. Over 46 million Americans pay for their groceries with federal food stamps. Half of the mouths that food stamps feed belong to children. It is a 40-year-old program (renamed “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program” or SNAP) but only in recent years has it ballooned to one in seven people, currently costing taxpayers $72 billion a year.

The rapid increase owes partly to the weak economy that has followed the financial crisis of 2008, but also to a loosening of the eligibility rules to assist the victims of that economy. It is no longer required that a family sell off all its assets and belongings to qualify, for example.

But Congress sees only the cost. Food stamps are part of the perennially stalled farm bill, which comes up every five years. Congress has repeatedly passed temporary bills with sunset clauses. A mare’s nest of subsidies from crop insurance energy, telecommunications, forestry — you name it — the current extension expired last September 30. Since then we have therefore technically reverted to the last permanent bill passed as law — in 1949. You read that correctly.

It may be a farm bill but food stamps make up 79% of the near trillion dollar ten-year bill the Senate passed last June. (Yes, June, and it is now January with nothing having been passed). They cut $4.5 billion from food stamps. House Republicans want to cut $16.1 billion, which would drop about three million Americans out of the program. but their bill has never made it to the floor for vote because of those who say cuts are not deep enough.

The swelling numbers in people and dollars says to conservatives that the program is out of hand. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page is representative. An op-ed piece said about food stamps, “thanks to Obama’s stimulus, [the cost] doubled again between 2008 and 2012”, without mentioning that the stimulus aid was brought about by millions thrown out of work by the 2008 financial crisis that took food off their tables. Another is entirely about the military but has the gratuitous title “Defense vs. Food Stamps: What Would You choose?”. Or Read More »

the economy

What’s Come Over America? »

Is it tough love or genuine contempt for our fellow citizens? Jan 13 2014

It would seem that Americans have suddenly adopted a stern view of our own people as irresponsible and indolent and that we've decided to exact harsh measures, all at once, that are causing widespread economic hardship.

Congress stripped food stamps from the farm bill and the House wants to cutUpdate: The 5-year farm bill, just signed into law, trimmed the $40 billion proposed food stamp cutback to $8.6 billion

back the program by $40 billion across 10 years, estimated to bump 3.8 million families off the rolls.

House Republicans unanimously rejected an increase in the minimum wage last March leaving it over 30% below what it was in 1968. Pressure mounts to raise the hourly rate from $7.25 to $10.10, but the House seems obstinate, which will strand workers at the poverty level.

In their backlash against Obamacare, governors and legislatures in 24 states have chosen to spite themselves by refusing to expand Medicaid to over 4.9 million more of their people even though the federal government will pay 100% of the tab for the first two years and 90% thereafter (see map later).

Businesses are reducing workers to under 30 hours a week and hiring more part-timers so as to avoid the Affordable Care Act mandate that they provide health insurance for anyone working 30 or more hours.

Companies are converting employees to independent contractors for that same reason as well as to avoid paying for half of Social Security and Medicare and for other benefits mandated by law.

Sequestration has cut back government spending on social programs.

More states are considering or passing right to work laws that hurt or destroy the unions that give employees some say in their wages and benefits.

College students and recent graduates who want a job with… Read More »

the economy

Socialism? They Must Be Kidding »

Mar 17 2013 This riveting video turns the income and wealth of all strata of Americans into a vivid set of graphics that is nothing less than astonishinng in showing how badly skewed is America in favor of a small segment of our society.

Not to be missed (sound on). This is one case where we all really should forward this to everyone we know to get rid of the nonsense we hear about creeping socialism. We are in the midst of the extreme opposite.