Lee Wochner: Writer. Director. Writing instructor. Thinker about things.


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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Race to the bottom

Monday, February 10th, 2014

What’s the best way to get millions of more people working? Why, by dropping the minimum wage — to five bucks an hour.

I know, you wouldn’t have thought of that either. But this guy who wrote an op ed in today’s Wall Street Journal did.

Granted, that’s behind a paywall — a paywall operated by no one making $5/hour, I’m sure — so let me share a few of the key points:

A Minimum Wage That Will Work
There’s a way to create millions of jobs for people the stimulus didn’t help.

The president’s call for a $10.10 minimum wage applies the worn-out notion that higher wages create more jobs. Despite repeated minimum-wage increases over the years, we have seen a continued flight to the sidelines by people who are unable to find jobs because they don’t exist. Many jobs don’t exist because employers refuse to hire people at such wages. Isn’t it obvious that, with a higher wage, McDonald’s $1 menu, for example, would cost $3, few would buy it, and Mickey D would have less revenue and far fewer jobs?

As a volunteer interviewer of the poor at a religious charitable organization in southwest Florida, I have come to believe that the most effective step we can take to ameliorate poverty, kick-start job growth and invigorate hope in every social stratum is to experiment with a $5 minimum wage.

A $5 wage will put money and hope into the lives of our poor in immediate, powerful and enduring ways. For all its $4 trillion stimulus, mere nickels of quantitative-easing funding “trickled down” to where the poor reside. But a $5 minimum wage will “trickle up,” directly from employer to employed—creating millions of jobs rapidly and putting them within reach of huge numbers of the poor.

Three enormous labor pools of can benefit immediately. The most dramatic change among the poor that our charity serves right now is in the demographic sector of hardworking lower-middle-class families who are being squeezed into poverty by ever-increasing food, housing, transport, medical, drug, insurance and other costs they are unable to pay. These include:

• Intact low-income families, where three or four persons have the capacity and desire to work, but only one has a job, often at a near-minimum wage that typically generates about $15,000 a year. A $5 wage that opens full- or part-time jobs for the remaining three can change that single survival income into a $30,000-plus income stream to help produce a life of reasonable comfort and dignity.

• Single-parent families, often headed by an educated young woman with one or two infants who supports a live-in partner on an entry-level job income. He cannot find a job and her hours are reduced: As wage-earner, mother and caregiver, she is in extreme stress and they are in crisis. A job-fostering program that helps the partner find work can bring immediate and potentially long-term relief to these folks.

You’d think no one can value making $5 an hour. But for those in poverty, a primal need is immediate and reliable access to an income of one’s own. When one has nothing, anything becomes priceless. Watch the expression on the face of a poor person when you provide him or her with $2, $3 or $5 to put gas in a neighbor’s borrowed car so he can bring free groceries, clothing, linens, housewares or furnishings from our organization back home. You’ll see then the value of such a “trivial” wage.

I’ll say just this: If we want to slide back to being a pre-Colonial banana plantation of low-wage workers, this is the way to go. Germany is the powerhouse of the EU — and they aren’t paying anyone the equivalent of five bucks an hour. Henry Ford created the $5 workday almost a hundred years ago (over the outrage of his competitors) so that people could afford to buy a Ford. Creating an economy where no one can afford anything isn’t going to serve anyone.

The 100%

Friday, February 7th, 2014

I got a letter today from my Congressman. In it, he boasts that he is proud to have earned a 100% rating from a group of organizations that he enumerates. Most of these organizations I would probably agree with some or most of the time. But here’s my thought: I don’t 100% agree with anyone. Even myself. Because, after all, I have been known to change my mind.

F. Scott Fitzgerald said that “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” I abide by that.

My suspicion is that that anyone who agrees 100% of the time with 13 different national organizations isn’t doing much thinking for himself.

Question for today

Monday, January 20th, 2014

So evidently after the big game yesterday, some pro football player mouthed off in a way that set social media ablaze. This kind of behavior makes me wonder, “When will these football players stop acting like they’re the governor of New Jersey ???”

Oil’s well that ends well

Friday, October 4th, 2013

The United States is the world’s largest energy consumer.

Which nation is the world’s largest energy producer?

If you said the U.S. — and who would have? — you’d be right.

Oh, how I wish that my father, who lost his business 40 years ago to the Arab oil embargo, had lived to see this day.

Leadership by example

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Here’s one Congressman who doesn’t think he should get paid during a government shutdown, and what he’s doing about it.

I’ve been living in California for 25 years now. For many of those years, budgets were passed way past our constitutionally mandated drop-dead date for budget passage. So a few years ago, voters approved a measure that docks the pay of legislators until a budget is passed. Here’s what has happened every year since: we’ve had budgets passed, on time.

I have little doubt what would happen if we enacted that for Congress.

Plan of inaction

Monday, September 16th, 2013

Another shooting rampage today, this time in our nation’s Capitol. Ho hum. Oh well — guess there’s nothing to be done about any of this.

As for my Congressman, he’s providing “thoughts and prayers.” Because that has been working so well.

Disaster relief

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

Here’s a petition I fully endorse, partly because it links two sorts of disasters in exactly the way they should be linked.

Comedians everywhere mourn

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Looks like San Diego Mayor Bob Filner is going to step down.

A unique view of the news

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

No matter what you thought of Wendy Davis’ 12-hour filibuster, I’ll bet you it wasn’t what people in Taiwan thought of it. (But hey, this makes more sense than most of what you see in the news.)

When Right is right

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

What’s the best way to make the Tea Party go away? By not proving their paranoia right.  I’m probably even more outraged than they are, because the IRS singling them out just feeds them.