NB Politicus

DEMOS Report: A Higher Wage Is Possible

Posted in economy, living wage, minimum wage by nbpoliticus on November 25, 2013

From www.demos.org

There is enormous public support for increasing the minimum wage in recognition of deep recessions and income equality. DEMOS’ new report shares how it can be done:

November 19, 2013


American workers are working harder for less, with productivity rising but living standards stagnant or declining.1At the same time, stock market wealth and incomes for the highest-paid Americans have risen.2 Against this backdrop, the pay practices of the nation’s largest private employer have come under increased scrutiny. Walmart, with 1.3 million U.S. employees and $17 billion in annual profits, sets standards for all other retailers and across the supply chain of one of the nation’s fastest growing industries.3 Walmart’s practices impact the public sector and taxpayers as well when employees earn too little to meet their needs and require public assistance.4 Finally, Walmart is a leader in promoting an employment model in which workers earn too little to generate the consumer demand that supports hiring and would lead to economic recovery. In the last year, Walmart employees themselves have been increasingly vocal in protesting their low pay. Since the last holiday season, Walmart employees in stores throughout the country have repeatedly spoken out in pursuit of a modest wage goal: the equivalent of $25,000 a year in wages for a full-time employee.

  • Walmart workers and a growing number of community supporters are taking a stand this holiday season, calling for wage increases and sufficient hours on the job to earn the modest income of $25,000 a year. This brief explores one way to pay for raises.
  • Walmart spent $7.6 billion last year to buy back shares of its own stock. The buybacks did nothing to boost Walmart’s productivity or bottom line. If these funds were redirected to Walmart’s low-wage workers, they would each see a raise of $5.83 an hour.
  • Curtailing share buybacks would not damage the company’s competitiveness or raise prices for consumers.
  • If Walmart redirected its current spending to invest in its workforce, the benefits would extend to all stake-holders in the company—customers, stockholders, taxpayers, employees and their families—and the economy as a whole.


A Higher Wage Is Possible


Posted in 1963, Kennedy by nbpoliticus on November 17, 2013

It’s a week and a November 22nd when every Baby Boomer is going to tell you where they were and I am no exception.

At age 13, I was in Mrs Sonigan’s 7th grade speech class when the class abruptly ended at Pickering Junior High near Wyoma Square in Lynn, Massachusetts. This was just one year removed from the Cuban Missile Crisis when, at age 12, I thought it was over for me and everyone else by way of nuclear annihilation.  But then Kennedy, not listening to General Curtis “Bombs Away” LeMay,  and Khrushchev, resisting his own hawks in the Kremlin,  cut the deal to allow me to get to junior high.

I don’t know whether the news from Dallas came over the principal’s office intercom or from Mrs Sonigan herself on that Friday. But school got out early for the weekend. There was a bus ride home full of nervous guessing by some classmates and then a long, sad three days of black and white television.

President and Mrs. Kennedy descend the stairs from Air Force One at Love Field in Dallas, TX, 22 November 1963.  
(Cecil Stoughton. White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston)

The murder of the 46-year-old 35th President in Dealey Plaza profoundly changed the course of U.S. History in ways we’ll never know.  Some historians and observers says Vietnam and much of the turbulence of the 1960s may have been averted had Kennedy lived. On the other hand, there is some doubt that Kennedy could have gotten all that was attained in the aftermath and mood created after his death. President Johnson’s  legislative genius is greatly responsible for the civil rights acts and a War against Poverty (Head Start, Meals on Wheels) that came out of the Kennedy and Johnson years.

The war in Vietnam that haunted JFK’s Defense Secretary Robert McNamara  and the subsequent murders of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy (on the night of my senior prom) killed the “high hopes” Kennedy brought.

Being Irish and Catholic and living in Massachusetts we took it  like a death in the family. In truth, however, the mourning  was ecumenical and universal.  “This is a sad day for all people,” President Johnson drawled getting off the plane with Kennedy’s body. Before 24/7 cable, McLuhan’s electronic “global village” connected all in grief and shock to watch the events unfold on TV.

The other and more uplifting thing to remember about 11-22-63 is that a ton of people in local and national offices, including me, came into or got interested in politics and public service because of Kennedy’s “Ask not” call to serve.

That is still the lasting part of JFK’s 1,000 days in office — days long ago but not forgotten this week.

Other Words: Food Stamp Cuts Will Stoke Hunger

Posted in Uncategorized by nbpoliticus on November 10, 2013

A commentary from former Norwalk Mayor Bill Collins and Emily Schartz Greco on the GOP’s move to feed the wealthy and starve the poor…..

Food Stamp Cuts Will Stoke Hunger

From http://www.otherwords.org

Food Stamp Cuts Will Stoke Hunger

Emily Schwartz GrecoWilliam A. Collins

Would you believe that the nation’s cabinet has approved an executive order defining food as a legal right? No, not our nation.
India has taken this bold step. Malnourishment afflicts 42 percent of Indian children, and part of their government’s response to this entrenched problem is defining efforts to end hunger as more than a welfare challenge.

Here in the United States, we’ve got a hunger problem too. Yes, it’s not on India’s scale, but nearly 50 million Americans — 16 percent of us — live in what experts call “food-insecure” households. The number of hungry Americans has held steady since 2008, when the Great Recession began.
UNICEF rates child welfare among 29 of the world’s richest countries.We’re in 26th place — ahead of Romania, yet behind Greece, Slovakia, and Slovenia.
Clearly, we should do more to help the most vulnerable among us, right? Well, Congress doesn’t agree. So now the world’s largest economy will let more people go hungry while our lawmakers squabble over how deeply to cut food stamp spending.
Food stamp benefits for poor families have already taken a hit. Even though hunger never declined from its peak during our alleged economic recovery, a small benefit increase in the 2009 stimulus package expired on Halloween. The end of this $5 billion safety net extension will trim $36 per month for a family of four enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program food stamp program, known as SNAP .
The Republican argument for cutting food stamps is based on the program’s growth. The government spent around $80 billion on SNAP benefits in the past year, more than twice levels seen before the Great Recession. That increase followed the boost in the value of the food stamps people could qualify for and the expansion of the number of people poor enough to qualify.
Simply put, we’re spending more on food stamps because widespread economic problems increased the number of empty larders in America. It’s possible that higher benefits compelled more people to apply, but that’s beside the point.
Had the economic recovery been widespread, we might be spending less on SNAP. Instead, the richest 1 percent inhaled all economic growth and then some. In 2010 and 2011, the 1 percent snatched 121 percent of the recovery’s bounty. This mind-boggling statistic means that the bottom 99 percent experienced a net decline in income.
Demand for food stamps won’t retreat until the economic recovery reaches the rest of us. And food stamps are a powerful economic stimulus because every dollar in increased SNAP benefits generates about $1.70 in economic activity.
So what’s Congress going to do? Pare back benefits even more. The House has passed two different versions of a Farm Bill, the SNAP program’s legislative home. One left food stamps out altogether and the other slashed SNAP spending by $4 billion each year.
The Senate’s version would cut SNAP outlays by $400 million per year. Either of these reductions would come on top of the $5 billion decline in support for this meager lifeline that helps one in seven Americans with less than $1.50 for every meal.
Can the private sector do something? Well, sure.
Workers employed by many of our largest corporations, such as Walmart and McDonald’s, are compensated so badly that millions of them qualify for government anti-poverty programs. If they’d just pay a living wage, fewer Americans would turn to stamps, Medicaid, and other safety-net options.
If seeing your tax dollars subsidize giant corporations that refuse to pay their own workers enough to get food on the table strikes you as unfair, this business trend may cheer you up: Companies selling their wares to the poor are lowering their sales forecasts due to the SNAP cuts. Including Walmart.
Emily Schwartz Greco is the managing editor of OtherWords, a non-profit national editorial service run by the Institute for Policy Studies. OtherWords columnist William A. Collins is a former state representative and a former mayor of Norwalk, Connecticut. OtherWords.org