Member of the reality-based community of progressive (not anonymous) Massachusetts blogs
Update: This has passed the Senate and heads for the state House! Cue the gloom and doom conservatives, or, if you are a realist, cue the celebrations for a stronger economy for all. This bill includes increases in the tipped worker minimum wage.
There’s a reason Massachusetts has a strong economy compared to much of the country. We care more about workers, we care about education, and we want to make sure everyone gets a piece of the growth pie, not just the wealthy.
Today, the state Senate debates raising the minimum wage (as well as considering an amendment to include tipped workers in the increase) and indexing it to inflation.
Here’s why this is a no-brainer:
The top income earners are doing really, really well. While nationwide, the unemployment rate stagnates, and wages adjusted for inflation have gone down over the decades, rich people are doing fabulously great. Many companies are seeing record profits, and the CEO-to-worker pay gap has never been wider. We’re at crazy pre-1929-crash levels. This article on BMG highlights the problem with our minimum wage.
Raising the minimum does not destroy an economy. In fact, in this country, in our years of greatest economic domination in the world, workers at the bottom could live, pay for food and shelter, and raise families. This is not true any more, even in MA, which has a higher minimum wage than the federal level.
Putting money into the hands of the people who have the most need to spend only helps the economy, by creating demand for more widgets, which in turn increases profit. It’s why Henry Ford paid his workers well - if they could afford his cars, he would sell more cars. We seem to have totally forgotten this simple economic principle post-Reagan.
The minimum wage will likely have zero effect on my personal household income. We’re not in the bottom 20th percentile. But a better economy and more demand, and in turn, more tax revenue and more money for our schools, services, and infrastructure, certainly does make us all stronger, from the 1% on downward.
Since the state Senate is debating this today, I strongly suggest you register your views with our state Senator Eileen Donoghue. PS - we’d be INSANE not to include the wages of tipped workers, who have been stuck at a disgusting $2.63 since 1999.
We’re better than that in this state. We’ve shown the world how to prosper - our economy is already better than most states, our unemployment lower, and our wages higher. Isn’t it time to make sure that a minimum wage and the closely-related low wages (which will also adjust themselves accordingly) are wages that don’t force families to starve or go on public assistance? Isn’t it time for the government to stop subsidizing WalMart and other big companies like them with our tax dollars and social safety net?
You can call Senator Donoghue at 617-722-1630. Now is your chance! Time once again for Massachusetts to lead the way!
Your ass is in a knot over welfare fraud. (Yes. I do listen.) And, you are a proponent of the big government intrusion of mandating citizens present photo identification when they go to exercise control over government, via ballots. As social engineering is an incrementalist’s game, whether progressive or classic liberal, you should be happy as a clam to hear this:
From the Boston Dead Tree Rag:
It’s time to slap photos on EBT cards and crank up oversight of the state’s “broken” welfare system before more dead people can collect benefits, an incensed House Speaker Robert DeLeo told the Herald yesterday.
“Why do we have to let the wound fester? We have to stop this fraud, and we have to stop it now,” DeLeo said, adding he was “appalled” by a state audit released Tuesday that showed $2.4 million paid to more than 1,100 dead people and $27 million to live recipients collecting EBT benefits out of state, including in Alaska and Hawaii.
DeLeo said House proposals to put photos on EBT cards, create a Bureau of Program Integrity and allow the Inspector General to monitor the embattled agency “are needed now more than ever,” and promises by the Patrick administration that they are addressing the problems aren’t enough.
For sure, if EBT cards are printed with a photo id of the benefit holder, an idea I fully support; then this will be a valid id. Thus, should the photo id intrusion into our ballot system of checks and balances move forward, those of us guarding against voter suppression will be partially relieved.
I love ‘checks and balances.’ It’s the wisest creation of The Founders.
Update: David Bernstein, of Boston Magazine, did a nice job sorting through the spin factor around the Auditor’s report. Such revelations will not help Teddy regain his composure. Maybe, it will help you, as it did me. Please proceed below the fold for an outtake.
Did you ever, for a minute, think the kerfuffle around LHA was about public health, or any of the touted altruistic motives that were puked up by the Blog of Record?
It was always about UNION BUSTING!
By now, you’ve probably seen all three lying scumbag ads from Scott Brown tripling down on the Cherokee heritage thing. In it, he outright lies, since there is evidence that Warren did NOT get ahead because of her listing herself in a lawyer’s directory as having Native blood, and there no evidence whatsoever that she did get ahead. Yet the ads say over and over “she got ahead” because of it. (The ONLY argument you can make is that Harvard, for a time, “got ahead” by listing her a female minority briefly. However, Warren was hired by then, and she had nothing to do with that. To accuse her of “lying to get ahead” is to A) assume she is lying about her heritage that was passed down by her parents, and B) that everyone and everything that has come out about how she never used this to get her jobs is lying. Occam’s Razor, people.)
You might have also seen the latest ad where Brown attacks her work on the asbestos case he has been bringing up over and over at debates. He selectively pulled out quotes from the Globe which were seriously out of context, and distorted the truth to the point of lying again.
This is the result of having a Karl Rove acolyte running your campaign. Everyone remembers the swiftboating of John Kerry - lying about his war record, taking what is a big strength of Kerry’s and making it an albatross around his neck. It became so synonymous with Karl Rove tactic it became its own verb.
I think the voters of Massachusetts deserve way better than Karl Rovian, swiftboating lying scummy campaigns. And so do the people affected by the asbestos lawsuit against Travelers…not a one of the victims, workers, or any other person on the victim’s side of that lawsuit from Travelers has said anything but positive things on Warren’s role in the case, preserving future victims’ rights to sue and get compensated. The “disastrous results” Brown quotes in his ad are from long after Warren left the case, in a decision that Warren utterly disagrees with (vacating the payments).
So also say the Asbestos Workers Local 6. If Warren indeed was on the side of wrong on the asbestos case, these are the people you would think would be applauding Brown for his attacks and highlighting of this issue. Instead, they are calling on Brown to pull his ad immediately for being a lie. Via BMG, their open letter (bold mine):
Dear Senator Brown:
At your first debate with Elizabeth Warren, you accused her of siding with Travelers Insurance Company to deny people with asbestos poisoning their benefits and added, “I hope all the Asbestos Union Workers are watching right now.”
As the Business Manager of Asbestos Workers Local 6 – which represents 450 asbestos workers in Massachusetts – I can attest that many of us were watching and were shocked and upset by your mischaracterizations and politicization of this serious issue. We were also disappointed to see your totally unsupported and unsupportable subsequent allegation that asbestos victims “have died as a result of her efforts,” as well as to see you repeating these false attacks in your second debate and in a new false, misleading, and offensive television attack advertisement.
The truth is that Elizabeth Warren represented Travelers at a time when the company was on the same side as a vast majority of asbestos victims. Elizabeth fought for a principle that most asbestos victims agree with strongly: that settlement trusts are an important part of the law and should be continued to be used. To say otherwise is either ignorant of the facts or a cynical lie designed to trick people to vote for you.
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. There is no cure for mesothelioma and the average life expectancy from diagnosis is generally from six to eighteen months. In our union, many of us have watched family members and or friends suffer and die painful deaths from this horrible disease.
We think it is inappropriate of you to use misleading personal attacks to distract people from your record against working families in Massachusetts, and we think it is offensive for you to campaign on the backs of suffering mesothelioma victims to win votes.
We would like to request a meeting to discuss this issue with you further as soon as possible and certainly before the next debate on Oct. 10, and before you make more false attacks. We are indeed watching your comments on this and other issues and have a keen interest in them.
Francis C. Boudrow
International Association of Heat & Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers Local #6
303 Freeport Street
Dorchester, MA 02122
Anyone wanna take the bet that Brown will meet with them or pull his ads? Didn’t think so.
You guys with the man crush need to know, he just LOOKS like the Captain of the football team. Scott is the water boy, … for Wall St.
In 2008, Scott Brown sought and received the endorsement of the AFL-CIO in his campaign for re-election to the state Senate. Brown did not try to hide his Republican leanings, but he did stress his support for the issues important to the working people of Massachusetts. He mentioned he was a member of two unions — dating back to his time as a magazine model.
But after two short years in the U.S. Senate – manipulated by extremist Republican colleagues – Brown has changed. He has become much more K Street, Washington D.C. than Main Street Wrentham. He is Wall Street’s favorite senator.
His votes are now consistently against the interests of working class men and women, and he prioritizes the issues of the privileged class. He favors the doubling of student interest rates, which benefits his wealthy banker friends, who donate generously to his campaign. He doesn’t vote to extend unemployment benefits for out of work Americans until the Senate approves tax breaks for millionaires.
This is not the Scott Brown we thought enough of to give him our endorsement four years ago. This time around, he has refused to acknowledge our requests for his positions on important issues. As a former colleague and friend for nearly a decade, I worked closely with him on a number of important matters. Party affiliation did not matter to him then. Now it clearly does.
Do not believe what you are hearing about Brown being an independent voice. He has turned his back on his Massachusetts constituents, regularly siding with the archconservative leaders of his party to the detriment of those of us back home.
Update: “Those who have sought to demonize health reform need to put an end to their scare tactics. This needs to begin a new day, where the test is not what you can oppose but what you can propose.” - John Kerry
This popped up on Facebook, from Councilor Lorrey:
I will be on Warren Shaw’s radio show on WCAP at 7 am tomorrow. The discussion will center around my motion to have the proper department (law dept.) report on the feasibility of drafting a home rule petition to exclude out of state companies from being the successful bidder based solely on being the lowest bidder.
This topic was covered in the last City Council meeting (2:01:16).
I want to commend C.Lorrey for starting this converstation, locally. It would serve us well for it to find it’s way, through our delegation, to Beacon Hill. A quick Google of “resident bidder preference” & “reciprocity” will clearify any confusion that this doesn’t have a shot of passing in Boston. This sort of thing is growing across America, state by state.
Because some states value workers, thus “encouraging” the business community to invest in them. Other states, don’t.
If you own a business in a state that requires your employees to be professionally licensed, safety trained; insured for health, unemployment and disability, your cost of business will be higher than one that does not. If your state has good schools, homes with value, public safety services, taxes are higher. As the saying goes, good things don’t come cheap.
If work is bid out to companies that live in states that have lower median incomes, don’t value their workers and generally coerce worker to race to the bottom against other workers; then cost for the project is lower. The project cost is depressed on the backs of the workers and their qualilty of life.
Currently, companies from states like KY & TN are sending crews to build small ,private retail projects. These crews will spend over a year living in a hotel. IN A HOTEL and it is still cheaper. We have crews coming in from NH. The “NH Advantage” is a disadvantage to local firms. What should we do?
We should not mimic those states that seek to devalue labor. We do NOT want to race to the bottom. Let’s listen to what C.Lorrey and others have to offer on this issue.
Everything you ever thought you knew about politics could be turned upside down!
Head over to Gerry Nutter’s Lowell. He has proposed so many scenarios, something he said has gotta be correct.
After listening to their arguments, I have to agree with the teachers. Their Union is being targeted. The question is by who and why? It doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense that a democratic operative who supports many candidates that the Union also backs would on his own try to do this or is he trying to lay some political capital of his own?
Why is it that only the UTL here in Lowell is being called on to negotiate in public?
Here is a crumb trail:
Can Lowell’s School Committee Do This?
Transparency in Union Bargaining
Charter Schools - Odds and Ends
Molloy P loy Backfires
Lashing The Leak *Bubble Alert*
Open Thread: Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing Edition
Muddying the Waters Unethically
It’s not personal.
This is happening outside of Lowell.
The School Committee depends on Union voters to get elected.(9,946) The City Manager does not. Scratch City-side Unions off the list.
The Teacher’s contract is the template that most all others follow. It is the “flagship” contract.
Comment on Gerry’s blog, please.
My eagle-eyed friend Tim (who does comment here on occasion) spotted this “Communities with the lowest median income” list on Boston.com which I didn’t have time yet to remark on, but thought I would now. Lowell is #17 on the bottom 20 lowest median income list, which given our demographics and history is actually pretty all right, considering.
However, what troubled me was the median income over the decades (one assumes adjusted for inflation).
2009 median income: $56,494
1999 median income: $59,212
1989 median income: $60,789
1979 median income: $53,108
30-year change: 6.4 percent
I was left wondering, how much of the loss of buying power that the median income in Lowell saw since 1989 is part of the overall erosion of the middle class in the entire US during that time, and how much of it is a local phenomenon of job losses, or a shift in of types of jobs offered here, or something else entirely.
I don’t need or want Lowell to be a rich man’s haven (not a big fan of “Mills to Martinis”). I like that our status as a not-so-wealthy small city attracts immigrants and artists, and that it is a place for a business to get its start. But the loss of income over time is a disturbing trend, and one we need to try to understand better as we move into another decade.
I’ve been following (mostly online) the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Boston protests since nearly the beginning. They got traction and coverage on blogs and Twitter long before the media was covering it - in fact, before the unprovoked pepper spray incidents that made the news, the only place to read about what was happening was online.
The media complained that they weren’t cohesive enough and there wasn’t news to cover. Well, that has quickly changed and evolved. For starters, there were some very bad decisions from the NYPD - both institutionally, and by some idiot individuals - which put the protests on the map for the media, and solidified the motivation of participants and supporters. What’s more, it seems the organic sort of organizing that has sprung up has - and I have to use the word evolved again - to meet the challenges of running a protest, dealing with the media, finding a set of demands to articulate why they are angry and not going to take it any more. OWS has spokespeople and media tents and a strong online presence - all while being relatively leadersless in the traditional sense.
In some ways, my personal cynicism alert flag is up. (Yeah, I know, I’m too young to be truly cynical…) I spent years organizing with the peace movement against the Iraq war, butting my head up against the sheer stubbornness of the Bush administration and, later, Obama’s. After all, GitMo is still open, the USA PATRIOT Act was reauthorized and is being used to spy on Americans without due process, we’re still in our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan though with some troop drawdown, and Obama even unilaterally bombed, for right or wrong, Libya, without the consent of Congress.
The only satisfaction we got out of our fight was that most of the American public got on our side after a while. But it still reelected Bush and let itself be lied to about Kerry’s war record and ability to lead, and we never got a truly different kind of leader to replace him in 2008, either. Obama put Wall St executives in charge of the economy even after it was evident they were full of shit.
But there is something really interesting happening with Occupy[America]. For one thing, it’s just average citizens (not diehard liberals or extremely informed people like me) who are protesting. Photo after photo, interview after interview, this is very evident.
There are so many people in this country who have been foreclosed on, laid off, unable to move forward, that a segment of them, with nothing left to lose, are truly taking the fight to the streets. Since they have nothing left to lose - no middle class lifestyle, no prospects - they have a lot to fight for. I always said the worst part about being an anti-war protester is that most of our citizens, even when sympathetic (and the majority was by the time I left that movement) are busy with their lives, making their livings, feeding their families, going to soccer games, and being generally content that things aren’t that bad for them, personally. There’s nothing wrong with this. It’s totally human, and what’s more, a legacy of the last century of American progress. We built the middle class. A country with a middle class able to make ends meet is a relatively politically stable country. It’s a good thing.
Which is why I think there is something different in the air.
Gradually, we’ve seen the erosion of the buying power and the salaries of the middle class. For so many decades before, our children did at least a little better than their parents. Then, since the Reagan era, we started to see the slide. We began to only tread water…then occasionally swallowed some. Then we began drowning, but we as a people were the last to see it happen.
Even in the 2008 economic meltdown, we failed to notice our lungs filling with something other than air.
This generation of young people really are the first who truly believe - nay, who know - they are not destined to do better than their parents. Unlike the spoiled kids of my generation (raised largely in the 80s and coming of age in the 90s), they see the coming tide sweeping over them and pulling them under the water before they even get a chance to begin. They are left behind. And they know that if they do nothing, it will only get worse. They have nothing left to lose.
They join every one of their older siblings, parents, grandparents who have lost a house, a job, a future, despite being of the generations born with more promise. For some of us older ones, we’ve experienced firsthand how it’s gonna be going forward if there are no changes. For the rest of us older ones, we are beginning to understand how fragile our position of comfort is. The OccupyWallSt movement presents this to us in bas-relief - the notion that the middle class is under siege and has been for quite some time.
The thing that is different from now from these previous movements is that the situation that has caused these long term problems is not going to be alleviated by last generation’s leaders. Obama is cut off at the knees to even patch a pathetic temporary band-aid (the jobs bill) on our economic slide by Republican intransigence. And even Obama’s half-measures would probably only prove to elongate the stagnation, not solve the underlying problem. We’re now seeing the gap between the wealthy and the rest of us reach the levels seen right before the 1929 crash. Eventually, this was going to get noticed by someone. By everyone.
Even the Tea Party movement, while misguided to the extreme, is an expression of this loss of power by the average person. Why did they catch fire? Despite being such a minority of even the Republican party? Because poor and middle class Republicans too are suffering in this economic climate, this class warfare on us by the super-wealthy. They just aren’t right on who to blame for this.
Most of America, on the other hand, already knows what and who is to blame. They already overwhelmingly want to see taxes raised back up on the uberwealthy. They know that Wall St needs taking down a peg or three, and that we need to go back to regulating our economic system so that the playing field becomes level again. They just need the energy to look up from their day to day struggles against the tide, to look up, and see that horizon again.
I don’t know where the Occupy movement is going to go. It seems to change and swell bigger by the day, though it could have an upper limit, I suppose. But if this truly is the moment where the American people reach the tipping point, if this is the straw that, finally, after 30 years of straws, breaks the camel’s back, then maybe we can make the changes without the economic crash that I have been foreseeing for years. That crash (which will make 2008 look like cakewalk) could still be coming. But if we organize enough in advance, if we can offer an alternative to the American people now, perhaps we will not lose a decade like they did in the Great Depression. After all, we have history to inform us how best to rebuild the American middle class and spread prosperity around to everyone.
So, occupy on! There may not be an immediate result, but it could offer a long term solution. Hats off to the most powerless among us.
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