The New York Times dreams of a living wage.
On Thursday, the day after the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, thousands of fast-food workers in 60 cities walked off their jobs, the latest in an escalating series of walkouts by low-wage workers demanding higher pay and the right to organize without retaliation.It can't be said enough. Corporations are pulling in record profits. CEOs are continuing to increase their already ludicrous pay. It's way, way, WAY past time that workers got to partake in the bounty they are creating.
The parallels, though inexact, are compelling. A half-century ago, the marchers called on Congress to increase the minimum wage from $1.15 an hour to $2 “so that men may live in dignity,” in the words of Bayard Rustin, one of the chief organizers of the march. Today, the fast-food workers also seek a raise, from the $9 an hour that most of them make to $15.00 an hour. That’s not much different from what the marchers wanted in 1963; adjusted for inflation, $2 then is $13.39 an hour today.
President Obama has noted, correctly, that increases in labor productivity have long failed to translate into higher wages for most Americans, even while income for the richest households has skyrocketed. His proposed remedies, however, leave much to be desired — a pathetic increase in the minimum wage, to $9 an hour by 2016, plus hopeful assertions that revolutions in energy, technology, manufacturing and health care will create good-paying jobs.
And hey, let's hope that you at least have enough time off this morning to come inside and read the rest.
Ross Douthat has the honor of being the only columnist at the NYT who actually addressed the question of war with Syria in his column this week (yeah, yeah, I know, that column on squirrels was too important to delay.) On the other hand, we are talking Douthat, so his article takes the sophomoric form of a fake speech from the president.
So let’s be frank: Striking Syria isn’t going to put an end to the killing there or plant democracy in Damascus, so it’s hard to make the case that our values are really on the line.Well, and so on. It's not even that Douthat's rationalizing for war is all that awful. It's the amateur hour form that makes it hard to take.
David Leonhardt anticipates turnover at the Fed.
Since Alan Greenspan became the chairman of the Federal Reserve in 1987, no Democrat has held the job, despite the election and re-election of two Democratic presidents in that time. The Republican hold on the office of chief justice of the United States has lasted even longer, all the way back to the 1950s.Summers' party affiliation isn't my concern. His miserable fiscal policy is.
Now President Obama seems poised to end one of those streaks — at the Fed. His selection process so far has been dominated by debate over whether he should choose Lawrence H. Summers, a lightning rod for both criticism and admiration, or Janet Yellen, the Fed’s current vice chairwoman.
Whatever their differences, though, both are clearly Democrats (as are several longer-shot candidates). Mr. Summers and Ms. Yellen have each spoken about the ills of inequality and the economic role for government.
Dana Milbank suggests that before the president starts a war, he take a stroll across the river.
As President Obama weighs a strike on Syria, he will meet with military advisers, consult with allies and seek congressional approval.Kathleen Parker joins Douthat in imagining the thoughts of the president.
But before he sends Americans into another war, I suggest one more activity: Return to Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery.
This is where those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan lie. These fallen warriors, buried alongside those who served in earlier conflicts, have filled 25 rows since they first arrived in early 2002.
The president is up early, already showered and preparing to shave. Wiping steam from the mirror, he grimaces slightly at his image.OK. This is even sillier than Douthat's fantasy speech, and includes a section on which fantasy Obama is made to sigh over the "noble intentions" of the Iraq invasion. Apparently, commenting on actual statements or actions of the president are far too difficult for a conservative columnist. It's so much easier when you just make stuff up. Hey! Why don't I try that?
Obama: Good grief, I look old. So much gray.
Mirror: Aw, lighten up, Bo. It makes you look distinguished. You can’t wage war without a few streaks of worry showing in your face and hair.
Kathleen Parker is up late, realizing that she hasn't written a single word of her column.Why yes, it is much easier that way.
Parker: Damn. Where did I put the crayons?
Steven Cook earlier wrote pieces suggesting that the United States should become involved in the Syrian civil war... he's changed his mind.
There was a moment early in the Syrian crisis when one could imagine that foreign intervention would have had salutary effects. In January 2012, I wrote that it was “time to think seriously about intervening in Syria” and laid out moral and strategic arguments in a piece for the Atlantic’s Web site.Leonard Pitts looks back one week at those looking back 50 years.
That was then, about 95,000 deaths ago and before about 10 percent of the Syrian population fled the country. It was also before the present pathologies took hold. The Syrian civil war was formerly an uprising against the brutality of a despot. It has become a battle among sects and ethnicities over which group of Syrians should control the country; part of a fight for regional leadership involving Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Iran; and an extension of the battlefield on which al-Qaeda affiliates carry out their messianic violence.
Fifty is a turning point year in historical commemoration. It marks the moment — invisible, unspoken, but no less real — when a thing begins to depart living memory and to become the exclusive property of history. The man who was an adult when Martin Luther King spoke to 250,000 demonstrators from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial is at least in his seventies now or very near. The clock of life expectancy begins more loudly ticking.Damn, but that's a sad thought.
After 50, a thing begins to dwindle in public consciousness. So the 60th anniversary commemoration will be smaller than this, the 70th smaller still, the 80th almost non-existent. If you doubt this, try a thought experiment. Consider the huge national commemoration that did not happen when the attack on Pearl Harbor passed its 70th anniversary two years ago. Consider how April 15th — the date Lincoln died — goes by each year with barely a whisper of acknowledgment.
So this is likely the last time we will do this, the last time we will gather en masse, devote so many front pages, web pages and television hours, to considering the March and the four incandescent words Martin Luther King spoke that day, the words that sealed him in history.
“I have a dream.”
Jon Healey is counting down to shut down.
Lawmakers face two deadlines with enormous fiscal consequences, and they aren't prepared to meet either one.Remember, no price is too high as long as it helps depress the Obama economy.
The new federal fiscal year starts Oct. 1, and lawmakers haven't passed any of the annual appropriations bills needed to keep federal departments and agencies running. Not only that, the House and Senate are miles apart on how many dollars to provide those departments and agencies. The GOP-controlled House wants to abide by the reduced total set by the 2011 Budget Control Act, while ignoring the way the law evenly split spending reductions between defense and non-defense programs. The Democrats who run the Senate want to assume that Congress will revoke the "sequester" cuts in the 2011 law, and they don't want to starve domestic programs for the sake of defense spending.
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has floated the idea of a temporary spending bill that would keep the government operating for a few weeks past the Sept. 30 deadline. The purpose, though, would be simply to focus the fight with the White House and Senate Democrats on the bill to raise the debt ceiling, which must pass by mid-October. If it doesn't, the federal government will begin withholding payments to creditors, beneficiaries and, eventually, bondholders.
David Berreby has what may be the most intriguing article on diet and weight in a long time.
...we appear to have a public consensus that excess body weight (defined as a Body Mass Index of 25 or above) and obesity (BMI of 30 or above) are consequences of individual choice.The idea that fat=undisciplined is so ingrained that it's hard to think of what evidence would dent that public perception. Except maybe this...
...many researchers believe that personal gluttony and laziness cannot be the entire explanation for humanity’s global weight gain. Which means, of course, that they think at least some of the official focus on personal conduct is a waste of time and money. As Richard L Atkinson, Emeritus Professor of Medicine and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Wisconsin and editor of the International Journal of Obesity, put it in 2005: ‘The previous belief of many lay people and health professionals that obesity is simply the result of a lack of willpower and an inability to discipline eating habits is no longer defensible.’
... this troublesome fact, reported in 2010 by the biostatistician David B Allison and his co-authors at the University of Alabama in Birmingham: over the past 20 years or more, as the American people were getting fatter, so were America’s marmosets. As were laboratory macaques, chimpanzees, vervet monkeys and mice, as well as domestic dogs, domestic cats, and domestic and feral rats from both rural and urban areas. In fact, the researchers examined records on those eight species and found that average weight for every one had increased. The marmosets gained an average of nine per cent per decade. Lab mice gained about 11 per cent per decade. Chimps, for some reason, are doing especially badly: their average body weight had risen 35 per cent per decade. Allison, who had been hearing about an unexplained rise in the average weight of lab animals, was nonetheless surprised by the consistency across so many species. ‘Virtually in every population of animals we looked at, that met our criteria, there was the same upward trend,’ he told me.This increase in weight occurred even among lab animals that were being fed a metered diet equal to that eaten in a slimmer age. Unless you think the issue is that those macaques just spend too much time playing XBox, something strange is going on here.