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June 20, 2012

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Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter Wednesday, June 20, 2012 11B COMMUNITY PERSPECTIVE We need to maintain value of minimum wage WHERE I STAND CHRISTINE OWENS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL EMPLOYMENT LAW PROJECT June marks the 100-year an- niversary of the first mini- mum wage law passed in the United States. And, while there is nothing new about low-wage work, we should take this occasion to recog- nize an even more dispiriting fact about the low-wage work- force: It could have been a thing of the past. The first minimum wage law in the U.S. was estab- lished June 4, 1912, in Massa- chusetts. More than a dozen states would follow during the subsequent 10 years, and by 1933 the new U.S. secretary of labor, Frances Perkins, wrote an essay to make the case for a federal minimum wage. Reading Perkins' essay today reminds us of the potential minimum wage laws hold for shaping a fair and productive economy. At the time of her writing, the nation was in the midst of the Great Depression, and Perkins feared the destructive potential of the growing num- ber of"fly-by-night" sweat- shop operators attempting to gain an unfair advantage over their competitors by selling cheaper products made possi- ble by rock-bottom labor costs. These low-wage sweatshop operators were; in other words, cheaters. They offered cheaper products by taking advantage of workers who, in a period of record unemploy- ment, had no choice but to ac- cept whatever job they could get -- in some cases, earning only 3.5 cents per hour. The purpose of a minimum .wage law was not only to pro- tect workers from abuse by their employers, but to also ensure fair competitio n by re- quiring all businesses play by the same rules. The first federal minimum wage law was established in 1938, five years after Perkins' article appeared. Yet, after several decades of.congres- sional stewardship maintain- ing a strong minimum wage, the real value of the minimum wage was allowed to plummet over the last four decades. As a result, the minimum wage peaked in 1968, and has since trailed behind the rising cost of living. In fact, the mini- mum wage would be well over $10 today if it had simply kept pace with inflation. Instead, it's only $7.25 an hour-- or just more than $15,000 a year. The problems associated with low wages are no longer just an emerging threat, as Perkins .once feared, but have instead come to define a sig- nificant share of the labor market. These problems will persist. Low-wage industries are now among the economy's fastest-growifig sectors, and some of the lowest-paid occu- pations are expected to create the largest numbers of new jobs over the next several years. For many employers low wages are part and parcel of a robust growth strategy. As of last year, no fewer than 35 of the nation's 50 largest low-wage businesses had post- ed profits that exceeded their pre-recession levels. Meanwhile, the vast majori- ty of businesses in the U.S. have yet to recover from the recession, particularly small businesses. A Gallup poll from earlier this year re- vealed that fully 85 percent of small businesses still have no intention of hiring or expand- ing their business because de- mand remains so weak. We are now three years out from the official end of the re- cession, and workers' wages are actually declining rather than rebounding. From March 2011 to March 2012, real aver- age hourly earnings fell 0.6 percent for all private sector workers and declined by a full 1 percent for nonsupervisory and production workers. Perhaps the saddest fact is the low-wage workforce has become an all-too-familiar fix- ture of the American econo- my. If Perkins were alive to- day, she would only need one look at our outdated minimum wage law to know our econo- my has become an anticompet- itive environment where low- road employers can thrive at the expense of both other em- ployers and workers. Now, 100 years after the first minimum wage law was passed, low-wage industries once again threaten to impov- erish America's workforce and derail the entrepreneur- ial ambitions of small busi- ness owners. And the Ameri- can people have noticed. Ac- cording to a recent poll, more than two-thirds of Americans support raising the minimum wage to more than $10 per hour. This support is behind a proposal by Sen. Harkin (D- IA) that would raise the mini- mum wage to $9.80 an hour, significantly raise the mini- mum wage for tipped workers (currently at $2.13 an hour), and provide for annual cost- of-living adjustments for both. There was nothing in- evitable about the low-wage economy we find in the U.S. today. What decades of expe- rience tell us, however, is un- less we seriously acknowl- edge our responsibility to maintain the valt, e of the min- imum wage, we have little reason to expect anything dif- ferent in the century ahead. The 50 percent are the ones who end up paying the piper WHERE I STAND LYNN DESJARDIN PLUMAS-SIERRA TEA PARTY PATRIOTS Occupy Wall Street protes- tors are obsessed with obtain- ing social justice and fairness in our economic system, so they demand redistribution of wealth to obtain economic fairness. They see the world as a place where everyone is eco- nomically equal, even if they haven't earned that equality through equal effort. The current social struc- ture isn't really a 1 percent and 99 percent. There is a 1 percent -- the Pelosi/liberal rich and the Wall Street/ banker/oil companies (WS/B/OC) rich. But the 99 percent is broken down into from facing the consequences of their own decisions and more. They blame their circum- stances on the "rich" (the WS/B/OC half of the 1 percent) who supposedly gained their affluence by exploiting OWS people and have not shared the prosperity with them. Thus in the names of "social justice" and "fairness" it's time for those rich to give back. The Pel0si/liberal rich (the Other half of the 1 percent) -- A1 Gore, Michael Moore, Nan- cy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein, George Clooney, President and Mrs. Obama, the union bosses, Van Jones, et al. -- sympathize wholeheartedly. They encourage OWS, painting WS/B/OC as the faceless, greedy, powerful and evil enemy, blaming them for Have they given up their private jets, luxurious homes, $25,000-a-plate dinners, fancy clothes, expensiv e jewelry, vacations around the world so they could share that wealth with OWS folks? Or better yet, have our rich representatives stopped col- lecting their salaries and hu- mongous expense accounts paid for by the 50 percent? Hardly. They are either in a popularity contest or they are looking for votes, so they pub- licly voice support for the 49 percent. For example, take two prominent la.wmakers who support OWS. Nancy Pelosi's net worth was approximately $43.4 million in 2011 (look up her financial disclosure re- port). This is up from her 2009 report of $21.7 million. A truly system, but how do you think they made all their millions? So how much have these two very rich, self-proclaimed OWS sympathizers offered to "redistribute" amongst the 99 percent? The Pelosi/liberal rich have separated themselves from OWS, and the rest of us, through their own health care plans, tax advantages, business regulations, insider trading That would be the rest of us, the fourth group, the 50 percent. Your local grocery store and hardware store owners who employ as many people as they can to help as many households as possible sur- vive the recession. The small business owners who try to stay afloat to help the econo- my. The county officials and local teachers and unions tak- ing salary cuts to help the (which would be punishable in ' county make budget. court if it were OWS or tea par- ty people), etc., so that they can never really be touched. And they are holding hands with the WS/B/OC rich all the way to the bank. So, flOWS thinks they will ever "get even" with the Pelosi/liberal rich or the WS/B/OC rich, they are sadly mistaken. "Tax the rich" That's our military forces who send their meager earn- ings home to support their families, and lay their lives on the line every day so the Occupiers have the luxury of standing on the street corner demanding their "fair share." Or the 45-year-old and his wife who each work six days a week to keep up their house OWS protestor types, w.ho the inequities in the economic remarkable increase, ...... might be th9 rallying cry, but payments, feed their kids and contribute very little in taxes;" :structure.: .......... .... : wouRttrt'9ou say? (itislder you can tat them forever and pay taxes to support the OWS etc., and constitute about 49 percent. The rest of us are the 50 percent. OWS wants social and eco- nomic equity. Most of them want free food, free housing, free education, free birth con- trol, free child care, freedom But if you look below the surface, the Pelosi/liberal rich and the WS/B/OC rich are two sides of the same coin. Other than their rhetoric, what have the Pelosi/liberal rich done to ac- tually help OWS? trading, perhaps?) Dianne Feinstein is 10th on the list of the wealthiest law- makers in Congress. Her 2010 financial disclosure reports a net v]orth of between $46 mil- lion and $108.1 million. They bash the evil capitalist it won't help OWS or the oth- er 50 percent. Is it "fair"? Is it "social jus- tice"? No -- it's reality. So flOWS needs rescuing and the 1 percent have insu- lated themselves, who pays the piper? protestors.. And the middle-aged father who lost his job and is not on- ly lboking for another, but trying to start a business on the side to keep his kids in college -- and pay his taxes to support the unemployed. Or the 72-year-old who is still working because he's afraid by the time the government takes everything it can from him to support some 30-year)ld un- employed protestors that he won't have anything left to en- joy in his retirement (if he ever gets one) that he's worked for since he was 15 years old. These people aren't fiction- al. I know them and more who every day are seeing the fu- ture they began 10, 20, 50 years ago blow up in their faces because a group of peo- ple, the 49 percent, have decid- ed that "they" -- whoever that is -- owe them a future they are not willing to work for. Where is the outcry from OWS about the plight of this fourth, sector who is stuck pay- ing the bills? Where are the out- rage and the call for "fairness" and "social justice" for them? There is none. Why? Be- cause as long as someone -- anyone  else pays the piper, it's not really about fairness or social justice., is it? Note to readers: this is Part One of a two-part article. For Part Two see plumassierratea LETTERS to EDITOR Just money According to reports follow- ing the California primary, to- bacco companies spent $47 million in a last minute ad blitz that seems to have been the reason that 17 percent of the voters who probably would have voted for Proposi- tion 29 changed their minds. In their blitz with no time for rebuttals, the tobacco com- panies effectively used the "straw man" propaganda de- vice. They attacked the propo- nents of Proposition 29 for something that the propo- nents never claimed. Money has always been a major factor in elections, but unless we change our election rules, it will be money now more than ever that will win elections -- not facts, not tal- ent, not dedication, not rea- son -- just money. Salvatore Catalano Taylorsville Free markets The local Tea Party folks seem to think that free mar- kets are more American than apple pie. To them, this coun- try began as a bastion of free enterprise, the fruit of which was unprecedented prosperi- ty. And it would still be so had not liberals seduced naive voters down the slip- pery slide to socialism. Alas, history suggests that the story is too neat for its own good. In 1789 George Washington became the first president of the United States. He appoint- ed Thomas Jefferson secre- tary of state and Alexander Hamilton secretary of the treasury. They faced a perfect storm of economic challenges: huge public debt, a third of it owed by states; a worthless paper currency; and frozen credit markets. Hamilton pro- posed that the new govern- ment should: --assume all federal and state debt and pay it back in full; --establish the first Bank of the United States (ancestor of the modern Federal Reserve) to serve as the government's tax collector and banker and a source of loans for businesses; --set tariffs high to protect American industry from for- eign competition and provide the government with a rev- enue stream; and --take the lead in financing improvements in transportation. Objecting vehemently, Jef- ferson insisted that the bank was unconstitutional, but Hamilton had the votes in Congress and, crucially, the support of the president. So it happened that, in Pres- ident Washington's first term, the U.S. invented American capitalism, based on coopera- tion and, coordination between government and business. That has been a recurrent theme in our history ever since, even during the railroad boom of the later 19th cefltury, when federal subsidies sup- ported every transcontinental rail line but one (James J. Hill's Great Northern). Is this free enterprise? Or socialism for the well connected? Or is it simply old-fashioned pragma- tism? Andy Johnston Clio Patent on oxygen Interesting letter to the edi- tor by Salvatore Catalano of Taylorsville on June 6 about the exorbitant prices of pre- scription drugs. One of the drugs my wife takes is Lipitor. We recently found out that ev- idently the patent had expired and a generic equivalent was available. She had been pay- They are hypocrites, the ing about $220 for a 90-day furtive dealers of hate, envy supply. The same amount of and bias. tablets are available in gener- They vigorously disparage ic form for $15. I am glad they those who disagree with them don't have a patent on oxygen, at least I don't think they do. On another subject I notice Senator Ted Gaines gave a re- cent college commencement address and held up Apple co- founder Steve Jobs as anex- by using pejoratives,claiming their righteous indignation while doing so. Their worldly knowledge is limited. Historically they are neo-intellectuals on a never- ending qUest to prove their ample of individuals touching pseudo-intellectual superiority. the lives of people around the world. Yes, and lots of them work in his factory in China. In fact I think the biggest per- centage of them do. John H. Babcock Paradise Dealer of hate To my conservative friends: challenge your own prejudices and talk to those with whom you disagree. You need not be a Kool-Aid drinker. Hold your opinions and principles pas- sionately but listen to your op- ponents' fears. Ask questions, use history and facts to defeat They conspire in packs by nature and are punished for individuality or initiative without first receiving ap- proval from the pack. Des- tined to repeat their failures, their wounds are often self-in- flicted; they are victims of their own inadequacies. They evolved from troubled childhoods, surroundings or broken homes, possessing lit- tle or no faith; they blame oth- ers for their poor choices and personal irresponsibility. Mentally, they are wired in- appropriately; these are ge- netic/familial traits. They your enemy, do not assume just don't get it, regardless of anything. Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. Here is a riddle: who are "they"? Never be fooled by their mis- leading smile of friendship or olive branch concessions. You need not b8 sensitive, respect- ful, understanding, trustful, compassionate, apologetic or fair toward this enemy; trust me, they want everything you own. They hold you in con- tempt for your prosperity. They will take your wealth and liberties if you let them. They are two-faced and' mas- ters of deceit and rumor. They do not believe in any princi- pled honor, values, morals or ethics; they are cowardly -- never turn your back on them. the facts or truth before them. Who are they? They are the enemies of you and America. Be aware -- and beware. Remember, America or Obama, you can't have both. Trent Saxton Lake Davis Bubbles and collapses Andy Johnston's letter incor. rectly stated that recovery from bubbles and financial collapses "has always taken a longtime-- a decade on average." There were two "bubbles" forming at the end of the Clinton years: the stock market bubble peaked Feb- ruary - March 2000, and a hous- ing bubble took a pause from 2000 to 2002, then resumed. The stock market bubble burst and people lost a few trilliondollars. During the 2000 campaign season, Governor George Bush correctly predicted we were heading for a recession. Upon taking office in January 2001, he did the correct thing and cut all tax rates about 10 percent, the unemployment rate never got much above 6 percent, and the recession lasted only eight months. He gave us the fifth-longest eco- nomic expansion on record. The other two bursting bub- bles in the 20th century were the stock market bubble of 1929 and the housing bubble of 2008. FDR turned- a bad recession in- to the Great Depression. The economy bottomed out in mid- 1932, and Democrat FDR didn't take office until March 1933. He used unprecedented govern- ment spending, tax increases and meddling, and the economy barely improved. The Revenue Act of 1935 (dubbed the "Soak the Rich Tax") caused a new re- cession in May 1937 and the two recessions stitched together are called the Great Depression when the unemployment rate never went below 15 percent. Prior to 1933 our country's policy was to not interfere with recessions. Economic contractions lasted an aver- age of 25 months and expan- sions 22 months. There were financial collapses, runs on banks and unemployment up to 20 percent, but recoveries happened without govern- ment help. President Obama is mimic- king the FDR policies, includ- ing wanting a "soak the rich tax." This is a dismal recov- ery and he hasn't a clue about how an economy works. Gene Kailing Portola tact .............. Con your elected offidals... PLUMAS COUNTY SUPERVISORS- 520 Main Street, Room 309, Q, CA ' i95971; (53o) 283-6170; FAX: (53O) 283-6288; E-Mail: tyofplumcom. i Individual supervisom can also be e-malltnt horn  on the county webeite, countyolcom PRESIDENT - Barack Obama, hhe White House, 1600 Permsylva. Ave, NW Washington, D.C 20800. (2{12) 456-1414. Fac 202-456-2461. E-m Icm/ U,S. SENATOR - Dianne  (D), 331 Hart Senate Office Bldg,, Washington, D.C. 20510. (202) 224-3841;.FAX: 202-228.3954; TIT/TDi. (202) 224-2,501. Office:. One Post Street, Suite 2450, San Francisco, CA 94104; Phone'. (415) 393-07ff/; Fax: (415) 393-0710 Website: U.S. SENATOR - Barbara Boxer (D). District Ofltt: 501 I St., Suite 7-600, Sacramento, CA 95814. (916) 448-2787; FAX (916) 448-; OR 112 Hart Bldg., Washington, D.C. 20510. (202) 224-3K. FAX (202) 228-0454. US..REPRESENTATIVE, 4TH DIST. - Tom McClintock. 508 Camnon HOB, Washington, D.C. 20815. (202) 225-2511; FAX (202) 225-5444. mccJintochouse.go DISTRICT OFFICE: 8700 Auburn r, olsm Rd., Suite #100, Granite Bay, CA 95746; (916) 786-5,560, FAX: (916) 786-6.364. STATE SENATOR,lst DIST. - Ted Gaines. State Capitol, Room 3056, Saa'amento, CA 95814. (916) 6514001, FAX: (916) 324-2680. RotK, vUle office: 2140 Professional Dr., #140, RoseviUe, CA, 95661. (916) 783-8232, FAX (916) 783-5487; Jttekio o. 33 C Broadway, Jackson, CA 95642, (209) 223-9140. STATE ASSEMBLYMAN, 3RD DlS'r. - Dan Logue, State Capitol, Sacramento, CA 95814, (916) 319-2003; FAX (916) 319-2103. District Office, 1550 Humboldt Rd., Ste. #4, Chico, CA 95928; (530) 895-42i7, lAX (53O) 895-4219. GOVERNOR - Jerry Brown, office of the Governor, State Capitol, Suite 1173, Sacramento, CA 95814. Website: (916) 445-2841. FAX: (916) 558-3160. Hit I I II I I I i '