Category Archives: Money

America…A stagnant economy?

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Wages are stagnant. Does this mean the Economy is healthy?

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Living Wage, Fast Food?

As fast food workers take to the streets across the nation, we ought to reflect on just what the Republicans’ cut first and ask questions later ideology has wrought in American society. The New York Times has run a couple of stories profiling people who for years were part of the nation’s middle class who now find themselves staring at their 60s working low wage jobs. That’s also happening in fast food. We also need to consider the fact that the average age of an American fast food worker is now 29.

 

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That’s hardly the fresh faced teenager trying to save up for college, or someone who needs a little supplemental income. Fact is, times have changed. That’s why their demand for $15 dollars an hour sounds entirely reasonable to me. Especially in light of what moneymen in expensive suits are getting ready to do to the city of Detroit. How are they connected, you ask? The city is now able to declare bankruptcy (not necessarily a bad thing), and at the same time cut retiree pensions (an awful thing). The rationale? Things have changed. Detroit is broke. It can’t pay an average $19,000 a year to people who’ve worked for their city, no matter what the state constitution says.

Times have changed.

So if that’s true in Detroit, why does the fast food industry cling to an old, timeworn view of who their employees are? Haven’t times changed in fast food? Burgers don’t cost a quarter anymore. The head of McDonald’s makes more than $8 million a year. The industry pushes back against demands for a living wage by threatening to bring in automation. Don’t buy it. Automation costs lots of money. Besides, would you want your burger flipped and packaged by Uniblab?

Long story short, I support fast food workers, even though I rarely eat fast food. The days when the big fast food operators can alibi and excuse their low wage-no benefit behavior are coming to an end. After all…..

Times have changed.

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How Would You Put Americans Back to Work?

First and foremost, pay no attention to the gyrations of the stock market. The nation is still hurting, and a big reason is that not enough people have been able to find work. Consider this. In December of 2007, just two years ago, there were 1.7 applicants for every available job. Last month, that number jumped to 6.1.

The House is currently trying to figure out what to do about this. Those people who elected Barack Obama and gave both the House and Senate Democratic majorities are getting antsy. That’s not a good place to be with midterm elections on the horizon. But what to do?

There are a number of proposals on the table. Some lawmakers want to see a second stimulus enacted. Trouble is, no one, least of all the White House, sems to know how many jobs were really created or maintained from the last one. You can probably count a second stimulus as DOA, at least for now.

There are calls for some type of incentive for employers to hire new people. They range from a tax credit, to government funding of health benefits, to a straight payment of up to $3000 to any employer who hires new workers. Congress backed away from these incentives when they were brought up before because they worried employers would game the system (who, those capiatins of free enterprise? Never!!!).

Still others want to see some form of government make woprk program similar to the WPA or CCC during the Great Depression. Cost would be a big impediment here. Moderate Democrats would have the same objections they had to healthcare reform. And the Republicans? Suffice to say that anything that they see as hurting President Obama, like high unemployment, is a good thing.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is urging caution, even in the face of mounting pressure to get something done. To pay for jobs creation, some have argued for using unspent financial bailout money, while others say new fees on securities transactions would make Wall St. foot at least part of the bill.

While out and out jobs creation sounds wonderful, Democrats in both houses of Congress have to be mindful of the political minefield any proposal would have to navigate. So as the House leadership takes its time in coming up with a plan, they must also balance fiscal prudence with an urgent need to act. Fewer and fewer Americans are buying the notion of a recovery, either now or in the near future.

So what would you do to put the unemployed back to work?

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