Stick to worrying about your agents fighting for your own MASSIVE salaries.
From NY Post: Sarah Jessica Parker, Reese Witherspoon, Natalie Portman and more than a dozen other A-listers were told to shove it by 500 restaurant workers in New York who signed an open letter to the actresses.
The missive is a response to a letter that the Hollywood elites sent to Gov. Cuomo asking him to raise the minimum wage for tipped workers. “You’ve been misled that we earn less than minimum wage and that we’re somehow helpless victims of sexual harassment,” the restaurants’ workers said in their letter, which was organized by Maggie Raczynski, an Outback Steakhouse bartender in Clifton Park, NY. “Thank you for your concern. But we don’t need your help and we’re not asking to be saved,” they wrote.
Cuomo is considering raising the minimum wage for tipped workers, which is as much as $8.65 in the city for restaurant workers, to be equal to the regular minimum wage, which is rising to $15 by 2020.
“The cost of food is going to go up and the number of servers is going to go down,” Raczynski told The Post.
The AP’s Paul Wiseman reports that on December 26, 2017, President Trump signed the GOP’s tax bill into law. By slashing the corporate tax rate to 21% from 35%, one of the highest among advanced economies, the new law distributes benefits across a range of American industries, from construction to health care. It also applies a low one-time tax to the profits that corporations have long kept overseas to avoid paying taxes under the current higher rate.
According to an analysis by the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Wharton Budget Model:
The biggest tax savingsfrom 2018 through 2027 go to manufacturers($261.5 billion).
Next are insurance and finance companies ($249.4 billion).
Retailers will save $171.4 billion. Matthew Shay, CEO of the National Retail Federation, says the new law will help retailers accelerate investment in e-commerce and mobile technology, as well as induce foreign-owned retailers to shift investment dollars into the United States.
The new tax plan has already brought fruit in companies giving raises to their employees (see below), as well as plans to increase their U.S. investments. As WND puts it:
“Before the ink was even dry on President Trump’s signature on the Republican tax-cut bill, corporate America was not only toasting it, praising it and celebrating it, but handing out money to employees like Santa Claus.”
“Just weeks after the federal government adopted the biggest tax overhaul in three decades, the effects are rippling through corner offices and boardrooms, with companies large and small dusting off once-shelved plans, re-evaluating existing projects and exploring new investment in factories and equipment.”
But the Demonrat governors of Connecticut, New Jersey and New York said they will file a lawsuit to block the tax overhaul. California, also a “blue” state, may join the lawsuit.
The AP reports that on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018, governors Andrew Cuomo of New York, Dannel Malloy of Connecticut and Phil Murphy of New Jersey announced that they’re talking to governors of other states to form a multi-state coalition in a lawsuit to block Trump’s tax reform because the new tax law caps a deduction for state and local taxes at $10,000 — and Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, California all exact high state taxes. This means that in the past, before the Trump-GOP tax reform, the federal government effectively had been subsidizing residents of those states by allowing them to write off their state taxes.
Cuomo, a potential 2020 White House contender, had announced his intention to fight the tax overhaul earlier this month. Murphy said he expects the suit to be filed within weeks. Malloy said no decision has been made on where the action will be filed.
Below is a list, in alphabetical order, of the companies — large and small — that have announced wage increases, bonuses, investments and charity donations because of the Trump-GOP new tax law. Many of them specifically credited the new tax law: (1) AAONis giving $1,000 bonus checks to 2,000 employees. CEO Norman Asbiornson said it was a result of the new tax law and a “direct recognition” of his employees’ importance.
(2) AccuWeather distributed year-end bonuses to about 500 employees. (3) Aflac is increasing its 401(k) match from 50% to 100% on the first 4% of compensation plus a one-time $500 contribution to every employee’s 401(k). It also plans $250 million increase in U.S. investment. (4) American Airlineswill give $1,000 bonuses to its nearly 128,000 employees except officers. (5) Americacollect announced $300-$500 bonuses for 250 employees. (6) American Savings Bank, the third-largest bank in Hawaii, said it will award $1,000 bonuses to nearly all of its employees, as well increase its starting wage from $12.21 to to $15.25 an hour. (7) Aquesta Financial Holdings in Cornelius, N.C., will raise hourly pay to $15 and give $1,000 bonuses to all of it workers. (8) Associated Bank in Wisconsin boosted its minimum hourly wage to $15 and paying workers a $500 bonus.
(9) AT&T will expand its bonus program to an additional 200,000 staffers getting $1,000 apiece. (10) Bank of Hawaii, the state’s second-largest bank, will give $1,000 cash bonuses to 2,074 employees, or 95% of its workforce. The bonuses affect all employees below the senior vice president level. The bank also will increase its minimum wage from $12 to $15 an hour. (11) Bank of the Ozarksannounced bonuses of up to $1,200 for 2,300 workers.
(12) BB&T plans $1,200 bonuses for 27,000 employees, a boost in the base wage from $12 to $15 per hour, and charitable donations of $100 million.
(13) Boeing announced a gift of $300 million in investment in its employee-related charitable program “to support our heroes, our homes and our future.” (14) Canary LLC will hire new employees and purchase more equipment.
(15) Central Pacific Bank said each of its 850 employees will get $1,000 bonuses, and its wage will rise from $12 to $15.25. (16) Citizens Financial Group will give $1,000 bonuses to 12,500 employees, and $10 million donations to charities. (17) Comcast NBC Universal, citing the new tax law and the FCC’s elimination of “net neutrality” of government regulation of the Internet, announced $1,000 bonuses to more than 100,000 non-executive employees, as well as plans to spend more than $50 billion in the next five years on infrastructure investments which will create thousands of new direct and indirect jobs. (18) Comerica Bank is raising wages to $15 per hour and giving bonuses of $1,000 to 4,500 non-officer employees. (19) Commerce Bank is giving $1,000 bonuses for fulltime workers, $250 for part-timers, to a total of 3,450; as well as $25 million donations to charities. (20) Community Trust Bancorp has $1,000 bonuses for full time employees and $500 for those who are part-time. (21) Copperleaf Assisted Living has bonuses of $200-$600 for 175 employees.
(22) Dayton T. Brown Inc. is delivering $400 bonuses for each of the 210 employees (23) Delaware Supermarkets Inc. announced $150 extra bonuses to 1,000 non-management personnel. (24) Express Employment Professionals announced bonuses of $2,000 to more than 200 non-executive employees. (25) FedExannounced it will give wage increases and bonuses, make a voluntary $1.5 billion contribution to the company’s pension plan, and reinvest and modernize. Compensation will be increased by more than $200 million, with about two-thirds going to hourly workers. The rest of the money will fund increases in performance-based incentive plans for salaried personnel. The company will also invest $1.5 billion to expand its FedEx Express facility in Indianapolis over the next seven years. Later this year it will announce plans to modernize its Memphis hub.
(26) Fifth Third Bancorp increased its minimum wage to $15, and a a bonus of $1,000 to 13,000 employees. (27) First Hawaiian Bank, the state’s largest bank, will give out $1,500 cash bonuses to 2,264 employees or all but 11 members of its senior management team, as well as increase its minimum wage from $12.75 to $15 an hour for 613 employees. (28) First Horizon National Corp. announced 4,000 workers are getting $1,000 bonuses. (29)Gate City Bank gave $1,000 bonuses to 538 non-management personnel, as well as $500,000 in additional charitable giving. (30) Home Depot, with over 400,000 Americans on its payroll as of 2017, announced “a new one-time cash bonus for U.S. hourly associates of up to $1,000 in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2017.” Craig Menear, the chairman, CEO and president of Home Depot, said in a statement: “We are pleased to be able to provide this additional reward to our associates for continuing to deliver outstanding customer service. This incremental investment in our associates was made possible by the new tax reform bill.” (31)INB Bank is giving $500 bonuses to 200 employees, and raising base wages to $15. (32) Kansas City Southern, the Missouri-based transportation holding company with railroad investments in the U.S., Mexico and Panama, said it would immediately give a one-time $1,000 bonus to non-executive employees of its subsidiaries in the U.S. and Mexico. (33) Kroger CEO W. Rodney McMullen said the new tax law would influence his company “to continue to invest in our business, which will grow jobs.” (34) Melaleuca Inc., the Idaho health-care and home-products company, is providing its 2,000 employees $100 bonuses for every year they worked for the company. The company has 147 employees who have worked for the company for 20 years or more.
(35) National Bank Holdings Corporation has $1,000 bonuses for employees making up to $50,000. (36) Nationwide Insurance is giving 29,000 workers $1,000 bonuses. (37) Navient announced a $1,000 bonus to most of its 6,700 workers. (38) Nelnet announced $1,000 bonuses for 4,100 employees.
(39) OceanFirst Financial Corp. increased its base wage to $15 per hour. (40) Ohnward Bancshares handed out $1,000 bonuses for all 260 employees. (41)Pinnacle Bank had $1,000 bonuses for 1,007 employees.
(42) PNC Financial Services will give $1,000 bonus to about 47,500 workers. (43) Royal Hawaiian Heritage Jewelry plans to open up three more shops – in Honolulu, in Kauai and Maui in addition to its existing three shops. (44) Rush Enterprises of Texas is giving each of its 6,600 employees a $1,000 bonus – a total of $6.6 million. CFO Steven Keller said: “You’ve got a choice – we could’ve kept it and stuffed it in the company bank account or coffers, or we can share it with the people.”
(45) Sinclair Broadcast Group gave $1,000 bonuses to 9,000 employees. (46) Southwest Airlines gave $1,000 bonuses to 55,000 employees, provided $5 million additional charitable donations.
(47) Starbucks, citing the GOP’s tax reform bill, Starbucks announced it will give pay raises and stock grants to its 150,000 employees, most of whom work as baristas or shop managers. Starbucks will also the tax break for some pro-family measures: All employees will soon be able to earn paid sick time off, and parental leave benefits will include all non-birth parents.
(48) TCF Financial Corporation gave $1,000 bonuses to all full time employees. (49) The Flood Insurance Agency had $1,000 bonuses for 17 full time employees. (50) Territorial Savings Bank had $1,000 bonuses to 247 employees. (51) Turning Point Brands, Inc. had $1,000 bonuses for 107 employees. (52) Unity Bank will give a $750 bonus to all 200 non-executive employees.
(53) U.S. Bancorp, the parent company of U.S. Bank, announced a $1,000 bonus for nearly 60,000 employees. The bank also plans to increase its minimum wage for all hourly employees to $15 per hour, make “enhancements” to its employees’ health-care options, make an “additional investment in strategic projects centered on the customer experience” and make a one-time $150 million contribution to the U.S. Bank Foundation, the bank’s charitable arm. (54) U.S. Bank of America employees making up to $150,000 per year in total compensation – about 145,000 teammates – will receive a one-time bonus of $1,000. (55) Walmart is increasing the minimum hourly wage for its U.S. employees to $11 and handing out bonuses of up to $1,000, crediting President Trump’s tax cut. Walmart is the nation’s largest private employer, with more than 1 million U.S. hourly employees. (56) Washington Federal in Seattle will increase wages for most of its workers by 5% and adding 25 people to its information-technology staff.
(57) Wells Fargo raised the minimum wage to $15, beginning January 1, 2018.
From Seattle Times: Seattle’s minimum-wage law is boosting wages for a range of low-paid workers, but the law is causing those workers as a group to lose hours, and it’s also costing jobs, according to the latest study on the measure passed by the City Council in 2014. The report, by members of the University of Washington team studying the law’s impacts for the city of Seattle, is being published Monday by a nonprofit think tank, the National Bureau of Economic Research.
That law raises Seattle’s minimum wage gradually until it reaches $15 for all by 2021.
The UW team published its first report last July on the impact of the first jump in Seattle’s minimum wage, which went in April 2015 from $9.47 to $10 or $11 an hour, depending on business size, benefits and tips.
This latest study from the UW team looks at the effects of both the first and second jumps. The second jump, in January 2016, raised the minimum wage to $10.50 to $13. (The minimum wage has since gone up again, to the current $11 to $15. It goes up again in January to $11.50 to $15.) The team concluded that the second jump had a far greater impact, boosting pay in low-wage jobs by about 3 percent since 2014 but also resulting in a 9 percent reduction in hours worked in such jobs. That resulted in a 6 percent drop in what employers collectively pay — and what workers earn — for those low-wage jobs. For an average low-wage worker in Seattle, that translates into a loss of about $125 per month per job.
“If you’re a low-skilled worker with one of those jobs, $125 a month is a sizable amount of money,” said Mark Long, a UW public-policy professor and one of the authors of the report. “It can be the difference between being able to pay your rent and not being able to pay your rent.” The report also estimated that there are about 5,000 fewer low-wage jobs in the city than there would have been without the law.
The researchers focused on “low wage” jobs — those paying under $19 an hour — and not just “minimum wage” jobs, to account for the spillover effect of employers raising the pay of those making more than minimum wage.
For instance, an employer who raised the pay of the lowest -aid workers to $13 from $11 may have then given those making $14 a boost to $14.50. (The team had also tested lower- and higher-wage thresholds for the study, and the results did not change, members said.)
To try to isolate the effects of the minimum-wage law from other factors, the UW team built a “synthetic” Seattle statistical model, aggregating areas outside King County but within the state that had previously shown numbers and trends similar to Seattle’s labor market.
The researchers then compared what happened in the real Seattle from June 2014 through September 2016 to what happened in the synthetic Seattle.
In addition to earnings, the report analyzes data on work hours— relatively rare in minimum-wage studies, the researchers said, since Washington is one of only four states that collects quarterly data on both hours and earnings.
Other studies on minimum wage have typically used lower-wage industries, such as the restaurant sector, or lower-paid groups such as teenagers, as proxies to get at employment, they said.
That was the case with a University of California, Berkeley study released last week that found Seattle’s minimum-wage law led to higher pay for restaurant workers without costing jobs in 2015 and 2016.
The UW team’s study actually corroborates the Berkeley conclusion, finding zero impact from the minimum-wage law on restaurant employment — when taking into account jobs at all wage levels within the restaurant industry. But the UW researchers did conclude that, for low-wage restaurant workers, the law cost them work hours. (Specifically, though the actual number of hours worked by low-wage restaurant workers in Seattle increased a slight 0.1 percent from the second quarters of 2014 to 2016, the researchers’ “synthetic Seattle” model showed that if the minimum wage law hadn’t been in effect, there would have been an 11.1 percent increase in hours for those workers.) Michael Reich, a UC Berkeley economics professor who was lead author on the Berkeley report, said he found the UW team’s report not credible for a number of reasons.
He said the UW researchers’ “synthetic” Seattle model draws only from areas in Washington that are nothing like Seattle, and the report excludes multisite businesses, which employ a large percentage of Seattle’s low-paid workforce. The latter fact was also problematic, he said, because that meant workers who left single-site businesses to work at multisite businesses were counted as job losses, not job gains in the UW study.
Reich also thought the $19 threshold was too low, and he said the UW researchers’ report “finds an unprecedented impact of wage increases on jobs, ten times more than in hundreds of minimum wage and non-minimum wage studies. … “There is no reason,” he said, that Seattle’s employers of low-paid workers “should be so much more sensitive to wage increases.” Jacob Vigdor, a UW public policy professor and one of the authors of the UW report, stood by the team’s findings.
“When we perform the exact same analysis as the Berkeley team, we match their results, which is inconsistent with the notion that our methods create bias,” he said.
He acknowledged, and the report also says, that the study excludes multisite businesses, which include large corporations and restaurants and retail stores that own their branches directly. Single-site businesses, though — which are counted in the report — could include franchise locations that are owned separately from their corporate headquarters. Vigdor said multisite businesses were actually more likely to report staff cutbacks.
As to the substantial impact on jobs that the UW researchers found, Vigdor said: “We are concerned that it is flaws in prior studies … that have masked these responses. The fact that we find zero employment effects when using methods common in prior studies — just as those studies do — amplifies these concerns.”
He added that “Seattle’s substantial minimum-wage increase — a 37 percent rise over nine months on top of what was then the nation’s highest state minimum wage — may have induced a stronger response than the events studied in prior research.”
As to how the UW team’s findings jibe with the Seattle area’s very low unemployment rate, tight labor market, and anecdotes from hospitality employers desperately seeking low-wage workers, Vigdor said that, based on data and what he’s hearing from employers, businesses are looking to hire those with more experience.
“Traditionally, a high proportion of workers in the low-wage market are not experienced at all: teens with their first jobs, immigrants with their first jobs here,” he said. “Data is pointing to: Since we have to pay more, employers are looking for people with experience who can do the job from Day 1.”
Despite this proposal stalling, I guess this is one way the demorats can prove they aren’t out of touch with their supporters.
From MyFoxChicago (AP): Amid a national push by unions and worker advocates for a $15 minimum wage, Illinois Democrats hope to pass an ambitious hike during the spring legislative session, despite a warning from Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner that he opposes an increase of any kind. The proposal would lift the state’s minimum wage from its current $8.25 to $15 over the next five years, a more accelerated leap than previous adjustments in Illinois. It also would constitute a larger jump than increases toward $15 approved last year in New York and California, where the rates had been $9 and $10, respectively. But, as with previous efforts in Illinois, the measure is likely to be tied up in the state’s electoral politics. Sponsors of the legislation acknowledge Rauner’s opposition but have signaled they want to force him to act on the measure ahead of next year’s gubernatorial election, in which he already faces half a dozen Democratic challengers.
“We will get a really good opportunity to see where the governor stands,” said Rep. Will Guzzardi, a Chicago Democrat sponsoring the wage bill in the House. “Does he side with the 2.3 million people in this state who need a raise now or does he side with the big corporations?”
In the past, Rauner has said he supported minor increases in the minimum wage. But he told the audience at a business forum on April 13 that requiring employers to raise pay is out of the question. “That’s not gonna happen,” Rauner said. “Companies will just leave.” Democrats say they have considerable support for the $15-per-hour measure in the House, and expect a floor vote in May. The Senate is also considering two minimum wage bills, one similar to Guzzardi’s and a less ambitious one that would raise the wage to $11 by 2021. In 2014, Democrats placed an advisory referendum on the Illinois ballot asking voters whether they supported a minimum wage increase in an effort to motivate their base to go to the polls. The referendum secured 67% of the vote in the same election that Rauner won his first term in office. During the campaign, Rauner was criticized by his rival, former Gov. Pat Quinn, for statements supporting a reduction of the minimum wage.
Illinois has raised its minimum wage above the federal floor, currently $7.25 per hour, twice in recent history – first in 2003 and again in 2006 to $8.25, where it’s remained since 2011. That leaves Illinois with a lower rate than 20 others nationwide, but above every state it borders.
Business leaders claim increasing the rate puts Illinois at a competitive disadvantage, driving companies across state lines or forcing them to reduce staff. Labor unions and other allies of the national “Fight for $15” campaign contend raising the minimum wage boosts the economy by putting more money into pockets of low-wage workers, decreasing reliance on government assistance. Advocates say anything less than $15 falls far short of the cost of living for millions of Illinoisans. They point to research including a 2016 report from the University of Illinois that shows at least 34 percent of Illinois workers earn less than $15 an hour, many of them while helping to support a family.
The report projects an increase to $15 would result in just a 0.78 percent employment decline while yielding an extra $2.4 billion in tax revenue.
Robert Bruno, a professor of labor relations at the university who co-authored the report, said research on previous increases indicates companies are able to recoup additional labor costs by raising prices a few cents on the dollar and benefit from enhanced worker productivity and purchasing power. Some business organizations, including the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, oppose any increase above federal levels. Others, like the Illinois Restaurant Association, are willing to consider a more incremental adjustment – something some economics experts also recommend, warning against potential job loss resulting from more substantial leaps. Sen. Kimberly Lightford of Maywood, the Democrat sponsoring both Senate proposals, has been advocating for a higher rate since 1999 when she first proposed what became Illinois’ 2003 increase. She said if the federal minimum had risen with inflation since its peak in 1968, it would be $11 today. “I cannot sit back and allow millions of working people to receive no wage increase at all because it could not be the $15,” she said.
The bills are HB198, SB1738 and SB2.
Via Business Insider: Wendy’s says it plans to install self-ordering kiosks at about 1,000 locations by the end of the year. A typical location would have three kiosks, The Columbus Dispatch reported. Higher-volume restaurants will be given priority for the kiosks.
Wendy’s chief information officer, David Trimm, said the kiosks are intended to appeal to younger customers and reduce labor costs. Kiosks also allow customers of the fast food giant to circumvent long lines during peak dining hours while increasing kitchen production. Trim estimates the company will see a return on its investment in less than two years.
“They are looking to improve their automation and their labor costs, and this is a good way to do it,” said Darren Tristano, vice president with Technomic, a food-service research and consulting firm. “They are also trying to enhance the customer experience. Younger customers prefer to use a kiosk.”
Kiosks are also valued by the Dublin, Ohio-based company for their ability to provide data about customers. “This move puts them at the forefront of the kiosk and tech movement,” Tristano said. Kiosks already have been installed at several central Ohio locations, where the company first tested the technology.
Customers will still be able to order at the counter for now, although Tristano predicts that mobile ordering and payment via smartphones will one day overtake self-ordering kiosks and cash registers.
From the Seattle Times: Moving to address income inequality on a local level, the City Council in Portland, Oregon, voted Wednesday to impose a surtax on publicly traded companies whose chief executives earn more than 100 times the median pay of their rank-and-file workers.
The surcharge, which Portland officials said is the first in the nation linked to chief executives’ pay, would be added to the city’s business tax for those companies that exceed the pay threshold. Currently, roughly 550 companies that generate significant income on sales in Portland pay the business tax. Under the new rule, public companies doing business in Portland must pay an additional 10 percent in taxes if their chief executives receive compensation greater than 100 times the median pay of all their employees. Companies with pay ratios greater than 250 times the median will face a 25 percent surcharge.
The tax will take effect next year, after the Securities and Exchange Commission begins to require public companies to calculate and disclose how their chief executives’ compensation compares with their workers’ median pay. The SEC rule was required under the Dodd-Frank legislation enacted in 2010.
Portland’s executive-pay surcharge will be levied as a percentage of what a company owes on the city’s so-called business license tax, which has been in place since the 1970s. City officials estimated that the new tax would generate $2.5 million to $3.5 million a year for the city’s general fund, which pays for basic public services such as housing and police and firefighter salaries.
Criticism of how much chief executives are paid has risen in recent years as their compensation has grown substantially. In 2015, the median compensation for the 200 highest-paid executives at U.S. public companies was $19.3 million, up from $9.6 million five years earlier.
Comparing such compensation with how much lower-level employees earn is likely to show a very wide gulf. A 2014 study by Alyssa Davis and Lawrence Mishel at the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal-leaning advocacy group in Washington, found that chief executive pay compared with the earnings of average workers had surged from a multiple of 20 in 1965 to almost 300 in 2013.
Thomas Piketty (a French economist), a professor at the Paris School of Economics and an authority on income inequality who wrote “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” said he favored the Portland tax as a first step. “This is certainly part of the solution,” Piketty wrote in an email, “but the tax surcharge needs to be large enough; the threshold ‘100 times’ should be substantially lowered.”
Taxing companies that dole out outsize executive pay in Portland was the idea of Steve Novick, a former environmental lawyer who has been a Portland city commissioner since January 2013. “When I first read about the idea of applying a higher tax rate to companies with extreme ratios of CEO pay to typical worker pay, I thought it was a fascinating idea,” Novick, a Democrat, said in a telephone interview. “It was the closest thing I’d seen to a tax on inequality itself.”
Novick, who lost a bid for re-election last month, said he had begun weighing such a tax about a year ago but did not discuss it publicly until September.
Portland Mayor Charlie Hales
Another supporter of the tax is Charlie Hales, the mayor of Portland. “Income inequality is real; it is a national problem, and the federal government isn’t doing anything about it,” Hales, a Democrat, said in a telephone interview. “We have a habit of trying things in Portland; maybe they’re not perfect at the first iteration. But local action replicated around the country can start to make a difference.” Hales, who did not seek re-election, will leave office at the end of the month.
Portland officials said other cities that charge business-income taxes, such as Columbus, Ohio, and Philadelphia, could easily create their own versions of the surcharge. Several state legislatures have recently considered bills structured to reward companies with narrower pay gaps between chief executives and workers. In 2014, a bill in California proposed reducing taxes for companies whose executives were paid less than 100 times above the median worker. The bill did not pass.
Among those objecting to the new tax was the Portland Business Alliance, a group of 1,850 companies that do business locally. Alliance officials have predicted that the measure would not have the desired result of reducing income inequality. “We see it as an empty gesture,” Sandra McDonough, the alliance’s president and chief executive, said in a telephone interview. “We think they’d be far better off trying to work with business leaders to create more jobs that will lift people up and improve incomes.” Publicly traded companies, she added, are “an easy group to pick on.” Hales conceded that the pay ratio is “an imperfect instrument” with which to solve the problems of income inequality. “But it is a start.”
Yesterday, I received a rare phone call from my brother. He just needed to commiserate with the only person he knows who isn’t liberal and who shares his political views about the upcoming presidential election.
He complained that his wife, their two adult sons, and his friends all support Hillary Clinton and think Obama is great.
I said, “Have you asked them why they like Obama?”
He answered, “They say the economy is great! Unemployment is low, interest rates are low, the economy recovered from the recession.” He also said that his wife thinks Donald Trump is “crazy”.
Not surprisingly, they get their news from the MSM and don’t pay attention to the Alternative Media. God help us from intentionally low-information voters, otherwise called useful idiots.
So this post is for my brother. Perhaps he can email this to his sons, wife, and friends. (Probably not. This is the same brother who was silent in 2008 when one of his friends, whom I don’t know, accused me of being “evil” and a “racist”. My brother had forwarded an email from me, without my consent, of a photo of Obama carrying Fareed Zakaria’s then-recently published book, The Post-American World. My brother then very helpfully forwarded his friend’s email to me, in which his friend called me an “evil racist”.) Donna Brazile, a longtime Democrat apparatchik who, in July 2016, replaced Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz as Chair of the Democratic Party Committee, sent an email to John Podesta, Chair of Hillary’s 2016 presidential campaign committee, in which Brazile said:
“I think people are more in despair about how things are – yes new jobs but they are low wage jobs… HOUSING is a huge issue. Most people pay half of what they make to rent…”
Here’s a screenshot of Brazile’s email from WikiLeaks:
What Brazile wrote in her email is confirmed by a recent Harvard University Business School study, “Problems Unsolved & A Nation Divided: The State of U.S. Competitiveness 2016,” which found that the Obama economic recovery is a myth. As the 72-page report’s title suggests, not only has the economy not recovered from the 2008 recession, it has continued to deteriorate.
In the words of the report’s authors Michael E. Porter, et al.:
“America retains and enjoys many strengths. However, various economic indicators show that the U.S. economy has failed to deliver strong growth and shared prosperity for nearly two decades. These structural issues pre-date the Great Recession and are compounded by political paralysis. […]
While a slow recovery is underway, fundamentally weak U.S. economic performance continues and is leaving many Americans behind. The federal government has made no meaningful progress on the critical policy steps to restore U.S. competitiveness in the last decade or more. […]
U.S. competitiveness has been eroding since well
before the Great Recession. America’s economic
challenges are structural, not cyclical. The weak
recovery reflects the erosion of competitiveness, as
well as the inability to take the steps necessary to
address growing U.S. weaknesses.
Our failure to make progress reflects an unrealistic and ineffective national discourse on the reality of the challenges facing the U.S. economy and the steps needed to restore shared prosperity. Business has too often failed to play its part in recent decades, and a flawed U.S. political system has led to an absence of progress in government, especially in Washington.”
For those who prefer charts instead of words, the following charts from the Harvard study — on labor force participation, job creation, news business formation, productivity, household income, entitlements vs. investments — all show a continuing decline under the Obama presidency, except for the gap between entitlements and investment, which has widened. Source: ZeroHedge
Donald Trump is right in his concluding remarks at the third presidential debate last Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016, on why the American people should elect him as president:
“When I started this campaign, I started it very strongly. It’s called ‘Make America Great Again’. We’re going to make America again.
We have a depleted military, it has to be helped, it has to be fixed. We have the greatest people on earth in our military. We don’t take care of our veterans. We take care of illegal immigrants — people that come into the country illegally — better than we take care of our vets. That can’t happen. Our policemen and women are disrespected. We need law and order, but we need justice too. Our inner cities are a disaster: you get shot walking to the store; they have no education, they have no jobs.
I will do more for African Americans and Latinos than she can ever do in ten lifetimes. All she’s done is talk — to the African Americans and to the Latinos. But they get the vote and then they come back, they say ‘we’ll see you in four years.’
We are going to make America strong again. We are going to make America great again, and it has to start now. We cannot take four more years of Barack Obama, and [pointing to Hillary] that’s what you get when you get her.“
Donald Trump is not perfect or a saint; he is his own worst enemy. But if you’re sick of what’s happened to this country for the last 8 or more years, if you are no better, or even worse, since Obama became president in 2009, then voting for Hillary Clinton is the stupidest thing you can ever do.
Listen to what she says: Hillary Clinton has no new ideas. If you elect her, you’ll get not only four more years of Obama, America will be saddled with a predominately left-wing Supreme Court who will set this country’s course for generations to come. ~Eowyn
Remember, Kshama Sawant is a socialist. That leads me to question her objectivity.
From Seattle Times: Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant is raising concerns about city-commissioned research into Seattle’s landmark minimum-wage law and about public comments by one of the University of Washington professors leading the effort. Professor Jacob Vigdor and other members of the UW team, who in July published a preliminary report on the impact of the law, are defending their work and saying they don’t control how their comments are presented in the media.
Professor Jacob Vigdor
The report said Seattle’s labor market thrived after the city became the first major metropolis in the country to enact a law setting its minimum wage on a multiyear path to $15 per hour. It said much of that success can be attributed to trends separate from the law itself, such as the growth of Seattle’s tech sector.
Why all the fuss about a group of number crunchers and their study, which is scheduled to continue for five years? People across the country — including pundits and activists on both sides of the political spectrum — are closely watching what happens in Seattle as they debate whether to raise minimum wages in their own cities and states, and nationwide.
“I’m not only concerned that we’re in danger of drawing erroneous conclusions about Seattle’s minimum-wage increase — I’m concerned about the consequences that could have on the nationwide fight for $15 (per hour),” said Sawant, who holds a doctorate in economics and was an instructor at Seattle Central College before winning office. In a letter addressed to Vigdor on Tuesday, Sawant questioned the study’s methodology and Vigdor’s objectivity. On the first issue, she attacked the “synthetic Seattle” statistical model that the UW team used to prepare the report.
Socialist Kshama Sawant dares to question someone else’s “objectivity”
To try to isolate the impact of the minimum-wage law from other conditions, the team aggregated ZIP codes from outside the city that had previously shown data and trends similar to ZIP codes inside the city. The team compared what happened in real Seattle from June 2014 through December 2015 to what happened in synthetic Seattle.
“I have strong reservations about the relevance of a model built on geographically and demographically distant ZIP codes,” rather than on ZIP codes just outside the city’s borders, Sawant wrote. She faulted the researchers on other academic grounds, as well, saying they failed to adjust for seasonality and to include chain businesses in the study, for example.
Sawant also went after Vigdor’s comments in the media. “Wages, jobs, hours worked and net business openings all increased in Seattle. Yet you chose to emphasize to the press that employment rates and hours worked went down compared to the fictional synthetic Seattle,” she wrote. “It is professionally irresponsible to draw such a conclusion from the data at this time.” To conclude, Sawant wrote, “Your methodological shortcomings and ideological editorializing undermine the credibility of the report.” In a letter replying to Sawant on Tuesday, Vigdor and 10 other UW researchers, including several professors, said their work is a collective project.
“The research products generated by the minimum-wage study team are the work of all team members and not one member,” they wrote. “The entire team has participated in discussion around research design, analysis, interpretation and presentation of results. We have taken great care to discuss where we find the evidence most compelling and where we are most uncertain. We believe our report reflects this care and caution.”
The synthetic Seattle approach has been used before for minimum-wage research and is a good approach for various reasons, the team wrote. And besides, the July report had an appendix with the approach Sawant prefers. “None of the conclusions reached in our report are contradicted” by the use of that alternate approach, the team’s letter said.
The researchers admitted to some methodological challenges. But, they wrote, “In the end, we believe that every question or criticism raised in your letter reflects information fully disclosed and discussed in the report itself.”
With regard to Vigdor’s objectivity and comments, the team noted, “Our work product is a public document, subject to partisan interpretation,” and said parts of the report have been used to promote both positive and negative views of Seattle’s law.
The researchers said their comments in the media can be taken out of context. But they said the stories about the July report that have been most misleading have been those written by people who didn’t speak to the team.
In an interview, Vigdor insisted that he’s playing it straight. “We have no ideological commitment,” he said. “We may appear as though we have some ideological slant because we’re not reliably agreeing with anybody.”
The former Duke University professor is an adjunct fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute and a onetime visiting scholar at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute. He said that he recently spoke out against American Enterprise Institute scholar Mark Perry’s criticism of Seattle’s minimum-wage law.
“Our entire team is troubled by the high and persistent degree of income inequality in the United States and believe our nation has a moral responsibility to ensure that the fruits of our prosperity are shared equitably,” the UW letter said.
“We are committed to producing objective and rigorous research, however, regardless of our individual preferences or concerns.”
Today, August 1, 2016, a coalition of some 60 Black organizations called the Movement for Black Lives (MBL), which claims to represent “thousands of Black people from across the country,” posted a 22-page list of “demands,” titled A Vision for Black Lives: Policy Demands for Black Power, Freedom and Justice.
According to A Vision for Black Lives, there presently is “a war” on black people in America. To redress that is the purpose of the list of demands. The demands are radical, extensive and expansive and, if acceded to, would mean Blacks would have their own state within the United States, which would be self-governing, self-policing, but not self-financing or geographically separate because secession would mean Blacks would have to pay their own way. Instead, the Black state-within-the-state would be pockets of fully-subsidized Black communities and institutions scattered across the U.S., where Blacks would receive a guaranteed minimum “liveable income” (which is really welfare because the income would be “guaranteed” without Blacks having to work for it), free lifetime education, free quality health care, and freedom for Blacks now incarcerated in prison, because they are not criminals but “political prisoners”.
How will these demands be funded? — with taxes, divestments from police and the military, and reparations from government and business corporations. A Vision says:
Together, we demand an end to the wars against Black people. We demand that the government repair the harms that have been done to Black communities in the form of reparations and targeted long-term investments. We also demand a defunding of the systems and institutions that criminalize and cage us. This document articulates our vision of a fundamentally different world.
This agenda continues the legacy of our ancestors who pushed for reparations, Black self-determination and community control; and also propels new iterations of movements such as efforts for reproductive justice, holistic healing and reconciliation, and ending violence against Black cis, queer, and trans people.
The demands can be sorted into 6 groups (h/t ZeroHedge): 1.“End the war on Black people” via:
Decriminalizing Black youth by ending zero-tolerance school policies and arrests of students, and removing police from schools.
An end to capital punishment.
An end to money bail, mandatory fines, fees, court surcharges and “defendant funded” court proceedings.
An end to the use of past criminal history to determine eligibility for housing, education, licenses, voting, loans, employment, and other services and needs.
An end to the war on Black immigrants including the repeal of the 1996 crime and immigration bills, an end to all deportations, immigrant detention, and Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) raids, and mandated legal representation in immigration court.
An end to the war on Black LGBTQs by giving them anti-discrimination civil rights protections to ensure they have full access to employment, health, housing and education.
An end to the mass surveillance of Black communities and the use of technologies such as drones, body cameras, and predictive policing software whicht criminalize and target Blacks.
The demilitarization of law enforcement.
An end to the privatization of police, prisons, jails, probation, parole, food, phone and all other criminal justice related services.
An end to solitary confinement, public jails, detention centers, youth facilities and prisons as we know them.
2. Reparations, via:
Free lifetime education and open admissions to colleges, universities, and technical schools.
Retroactive forgiveness of student loans.
A guaranteed minimum livable income for all Black people.
Corporate and government reparations “for the wealth extracted from our communities through environmental racism, slavery, food apartheid, housing discrimination and racialized capitalism”.
Ensured access and control of food sources, housing and land.
Mandated public school curriculums on colonialism and slavery.
Funding of Black “cultural assets and sacred sites to ensure the recognition and honoring of our collective struggles and triumphs.”
Federal and state legislation to carry out all the demands, beginning with the immediate passage of H.R.40: the Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act.
3. Investment and Divestment via:
A reallocation of government funds from policing and incarceration to fund education, “local restorative justice services” and employment programs for Blacks.
The retroactive decriminalization, immediate release, (criminal) record expungement, and reparations for all drug related offenses and prostitution.
Investments in “restorative” and mental health services, and job programs.
Quality universal health care, neighborhood comprehensive health centers, special services for LGBTQs, paid parental leave, and comprehensive quality child and elder care.
A constitutional right to a fully-funded (free) education, with high quality food and free daycare.
Freedom from unwarranted search, seizure or arrest.
A divestment from use of fossil fuels and investment in sustainable energy solutions.
Reallocation of money from the military to invest in domestic infrastructure and community well-being.
Financial support of Black alternative institutions, such as cooperatives, land trusts, and “a culturally responsive health infrastructure.”
4. Economic justice, via:
A “radical and sustainable redistribution of wealth” through a restructuring of tax codes.
Federal and state job programs for Blacks, with “a living wage“.
Support for Black-owned businesses which are “accountable to the community.”
An end to the “exploitative” privatization of natural resources, including land and water (which suggests an end to private land ownership).
Restore the Glass-Steagall Act to break up the large banks, and change policies and practices around regulation to promote black banks and other financial institutions.
An end to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and a renegotiation of all trade agreements to prioritize the interests of workers and communities.
Financial support of Blacks with low interest, interest-free or federally guaranteed low-interest loans.
5. Community Control:
“Direct democratic community control” of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.
An end to private schools.
“Democratic” school boards.
Community control of curriculum, hiring, firing and discipline policies.
6. Political Power:
An end to the criminalization of Black political activity (riots?).
Immediate release of all political (i.e., black) prisoners.
Public financing of elections and the end of money controlling politics through ending super PACs and unchecked corporate donations.
Right to vote for all people via universal voter registration, automatic voter registration, pre-registration for 16-year-olds, same day voter registration, voting day holidays, enfranchisement of formerly and presently incarcerated people, local and state resident voting for “undocumented people” (illegal aliens), and a ban on any “disenfranchisement laws” (voter ID).
Increased funding for Black institutions, including Black colleges and universities, Black media, and “cultural, political and social formations” (whatever that means).
Movement for Black Lives wants its demands to be part of the Democrat Party platform. According to the New York Times, MBL plans to start local campaigns to push for changes in law enforcement and community programs in cities across the country.
From Sacramento Bee: Bibliophile Kelley Ulmer closed her Almost Perfect Book Store on Wednesday after 25 years of business at Rocky Ridge Drive and Douglas Boulevard in Roseville, saying that the added expense from minimum-wage increases had made it impossible for her to continue operating.
“We used to joke that this was like the Hotel California: Once you got here, you’d never leave,” Ulmer said. “And realistically, it wasn’t a bad deal prior to the ever-increasing minimum wage. I had a profit-share with my employees, so at the end of the week, when they got their paychecks, whatever money didn’t go toward bills or whatever, I shared with them. They actually made more money at $7 an hour than they make at $10.”
Small, independent bookstores have faced a huge challenge since Amazon.com rose to prominence in the late 1990s, brick-and-mortar chains consolidated to compete with the online colossus, and some used bookstores migrated to the web to be able to offer deep discounts. But a study by the Booksellers Association, a trade group for the U.K.’s independent booksellers, showed that the number of indie U.S. bookstores actually has grown by 27 percent since 2009. While Ulmer and other U.S. independents continue to decry tax incentives given to Amazon, a wave of minimum-wage increases nationwide has prompted the American Booksellers Association to make this topic the top item on its page listing small business issues.
Several customers stood outside the rambling used bookstore, which boasted 7,400 square feet of space, before it opened Wednesday morning. Ulmer was selling all books for a quarter, 27 cents with tax, as she told one customer. Her store is not affiliated with the store of the same name in Elk Grove, although each received a startup investment from the same investor.
Laura Laskowski, a customer of 22 years who became one of Ulmer’s best friends, dropped off cookies to cheer up the staff. She recalled Almost Perfect’s early days, when it had a much higher checkout counter. Customers began calling themselves “leaners” because they would lean against the fixture and talk for hours.
“Every book lover cherished that store,” Laskowski said. “I can’t prove it, but I suspect that for most people the first glance – used books as far as the eye could see – was accompanied by harp music.” Ulmer said customers – and her daughters Stephanie and Victoria – have moved her to tears as she has prepared to close up shop, and she struggled to hold her composure as she shared their comments and stories with me. Victoria, who’s 17, told her: “Mom, you had a life before the bookstore. Stephanie and I never have.” Ulmer’s six employees have worked for her for 10 years or more. Jeffrey “Scott” Singley, who has worked there for 24 years, said that he’s still in shock over the closure and that he’s angry with lawmakers. “I’m going to take advantage of the government’s largesse since they put me in this position, so it’s unemployment as of tomorrow,” he said. “Or, at least I’m going to file as of tomorrow.”
Read the whole story here.