The fast-food workers who have been walking off their jobs illustrate a central fact of contemporary work life in America: As lower-wage occupations have proliferated in the past several years, Americans are increasingly unable to make a living at their jobs. They work harder and are paid less than workers in other advanced countries. And their wages have stagnated even as executive pay has soared.Sean McElwee makes the moral case for a higher minimum wage at PolicyMic:
As measured by the federal minimum wage, currently $7.25 an hour, low-paid work in America is lower paid today than at any time in modern memory. If the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation or average wages over the past nearly 50 years, it would be about $10 an hour; if it had kept pace with the growth in average labor productivity, it would be about $17 an hour.
When debating the Kyoto protocol — the international treaty obligating countries to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) — we don’t ask whether unemployment will drop by 1% or 2%, but whether it’s morally appropriate for two dozen or so developed nations to benefit from GHGs that will primarily affect the world’s poorest people. When Ford executives released the Pinto, it would have been preferable if they'd asked not whether the car would be profitable, but whether it was moral to knowingly sell a deadly product.Eric Liu at TIME says what fast food workers make affects us all:
Similarly, even if were some businesses to fail, unemployment rose and prices increased, a higher minimum wage could still be an acceptable policy. We must ask ourselves whether we want to live in a society when the poorest working people cannot afford to purchase basic necessities. Or, put differently, should a business that cannot afford to pay its workers enough to survive be allowed to exist, grow, and prosper?
This question is not entirely absurd, and we have had to ask and answer similar questions before. We once had to ask ourselves whether a company that could only remain profitable by releasing toxic chemicals into the air should be allowed to exist. We answered no. We once had to ask ourselves whether a company that could only remain profitable by employing child labour should be allowed to exist. We answered no. We once had to ask ourselves whether a company that could only remain profitable by paying women too little, pushing workers too hard, or maintaining a dangerous workforce should be allowed to exist. We answered no.
A $15 minimum wage is the key building block to “middle-out economics” (a concept I’ve helped shape, along with my co-author Nick Hanauer). Middle-out economics, as opposed to trickle-down, says that the best job creator is a healthy middle class with the purchasing power to generate and sustain demand. It says – as Henry Ford figured out a long time ago – that workers aren’t costs to be cut; they are customers to be cultivated. Investing in that middle class makes more sense than expanding tax breaks for the wealthy.Much more below the fold.
A middle-out policy agenda includes a more progressive tax system, but also focuses on high-skill education and fostering more entrepreneurs. And it crosses left-right lines: after all, the rock-bottom wages of a “free enterprise” like Wal-Mart leads to more “big government” spending on food stamps and Medicaid. A $15 minimum wage would take tens of millions off the dole and turn them into more robust consumers and less dependent citizens.
Switching topics, Marcus Stanley at U.S. News says the Fed needs a new watchdog:
In other realms of Dodd-Frank implementation (including the Volcker Rule's ban on proprietary financial speculation by banks), the Fed plays an influential role in a joint decision-making and enforcement process with other agencies. These other agencies still play a key role in supervision, including through oversight of important subsidiary entities within bank holding companies. The U.S. financial regulatory framework remains quite fragmented in many ways. But the Fed's expanded powers clearly give it primary responsibility for ensuring the overall stability of the financial system.Ken Doctor at Bloomberg asks where is our Netflix for news or iTunes of ideas? From search to archives and more, most news sites are woefully behind the ball:
This central regulatory role of the Fed, especially post-Dodd Frank, should be a key consideration in the appointment of the next Federal Reserve chair. In appointing the next leader of the Federal Reserve, President Obama will also be appointing the person who should be the lead watchdog of Wall Street.
Netflix Inc. (NFLX) has rounded up movies and TV shows. Apple Inc. (APP)’s iTunes has rationalized the buying of and listening to music. You know the buzzwords of the consumer digital revolution made meaningful: recommendation engines, aggregation and curation, socially mediated discovery, save lists, wish lists and flexible alerts.Gail Collins at The New York Times takes a look at Chris Christie and his 2016 prospects:
All of that would create a boffo news product. The Associated Press offers a 1.0 version of it, in AP Mobile, and Google News and Yahoo News, among others, have long aggregated. Google caused near apoplexy when it pulled the life-support line from Google Reader. Feedly seems to be the replacement flavor of the moment.
Seriously, though, there’s nothing like a Netflix or iTunes experience for heavy news consumers -- a place to read, buy, share and be easily informed without heavy lifting.
If he winds up running, it could be a fantastic test of my theory that women won’t vote for men who yell.Finally, Greg Sargent at The Washington Post looks at the Republican strategy for making government fail:
We don’t need to have a discussion about whether or not Christie is a yeller, right? You just have to call up that video of him pursuing a heckler down the boardwalk, waving an ice cream cone. And while Christie is probably not any more in love with himself than your average major league politician, he is a little less good about concealing it. Dan Balz of The Washington Post interviewed him for the newly released book, “Collision 2012,” in which Christie happily recounts the way the rich and powerful begged him to run for the White House. (Henry Kissinger, the governor reported, told him: “Being a successful president is about two things, courage and character: You have both, and your country needs you.”)
the rub is that, for the suicide caucus, the argument isn’t over who is pursuing the “more reasonable tactical approach” to undermining Obamacare. The suicide caucus has openly and explicitly redefined real opposition to Obamacare as a willingness to wreak as much havoc as possible in pursuit of that goal. It no longer matters whether that goal is attainable by this means; embracing the means itself has become a statement of conservative principle in its own right. Cotton appears, at a minimum, to be willing to humor this camp.