Monday, December 22, 2014

Doing something NOW to raise the minimum wage

"An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailments of all republics,”  So stated Plutarch some 1900 years ago, and it remains a vexing problem today.  But how frustrated we all are when it comes to doing something about it.   I've increasingly felt that economic uncertainty is
THE SINGLE BASIC REASON for most of societies ills.  However we are prohibited from even talking about it because words like socialism and communism get in the way.  Learned economists can't agree on solutions and even raising an unrealistically low minimum wage is debated by legislatures.  I've long pondered it since first learning of William Sloan Coffin's proposal to limit the salary of the head of an industry at some seven or eight times the lowest paid worker to John D Rockefeller's distributing his wealth by passing out dimes, to the continuing frustration of failing to pass legislation to raise the minimum wage, I even wonder why we speak of a minimum wage rather than considering A LIVING WAGE FOR ALL.


Admittedly this is a complex problem, and I am no economist. Perhaps that gives me license to make a few observations from my 89 years of living through a number of economic cycles. No way would I want to go back to the great depression of the 20's and 30's. There were, however, several positive things I saw present then that I fail to see today:
  • Although the unemployment situation was far worse then, I remember a feeling of hope, that things would get better. I fail to see that today with the extensive bickering and almost half the country hoping our president will fail.
  • Although there was a wide gulf between the rich and the poor, the great majority of people were commiserating together. While we bemoan the fate of the middle class today, at that time the great majority of us felt we were in the same boat together in a somewhat lower middle class. 
  • In the depression era our expectation of what were life's necessities were much reduced. Time was available to enjoy the simple things of life. We had more time than money and made do with simple things.
  • With the situation so desperate the electorate supported and accepted change without the intense polarization I see today.  Rather than embracing change we tend to fear it.
  • The world scene is dramatically different today. Globalization presents untold opportunities and  unimagined problems. The war presented many opportunities to expand the middle class through higher wages. The debate continues today: was it the alphabetic programs (WPA, etc.) of FDR or the war that ended the depression? Constant war today has changed from costing lives in huge numbers to taking fewer lives, but at an unbelievably high financial cost.
It's tempting to throw up one's hands and feel that there is nothing the individual can do.  But my life as an optimist rejects that stand.  Yes, I'll continue to work through the political process, but I'm ready to something tomorrow to make a difference by looking at the problem in a different way.


I feel that if any job is worth doing, it should be rewarded with a living wage. I wonder if our problem of unemployment might be solved were it not necessary for individuals to have a second and even a third job to support their family. Perhaps there would be jobs enough for all, and we would welcome immigrants rather than building fences to keep them out. IF A JOB IS WORTH DOING, WHY DOESN'T IT DESERVE A LIVING WAGE?

While the ultimate hope of solution may rest in the legislative process, perhaps the holiday spirit of sharing and goodwill might give us a clue as something we could do RIGHT NOW. Rather than just rewarding waiters and service people with a gratuity, WE COULD IMMEDIATELY give anyone we feel is not making a living wage whatever we feel we can share to spread our wealth.. We who have so much should be aware of those occupations where people are traditionally underpaid. How surprised would be the the the retiree having to work to keep the tables clean at McDonald's to be awarded a couple of dollars or the hotel worker making the beds or the laborer who cleans our gutters.  Not only would that person benefit but I think we would be rewarded from the surprised expression on that person's face

This may not solve the problem, but I'm going to give it a shot for a while to see what impact it might have. Why don't you join me?

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Rant returns............
.........far sooner than I had anticipated. Its because of my new Dragon dictation machine and a quick healing from shoulder replacement. I had promised myself to take a month and a half off to recuperate and not bother with blogs. I'm renouncing this pledge in order to comment on several current issues in American society as reflected in an unlikely venue – the sports section of The Washington Post on Saturday, December 6, 2014. Whether or not anyone other than family read my blog, I find it beneficial for this (now) 89 year older to get some things off his chest. I'm even going to hold to a regular schedule with a Rant or Rave the 2nd and 4th Mondays of every month. I hope you will check them out.


      What a marvelous picture! Five St. Louis Rams expressing their feelings about a societal issue. How insensitive and callous of the the Bear's Mike Ditka to be affronted by this display! How in keeping with the spirit of Gandhi and King was the players actions! Or does Ditka reflect the blindness of American society? For how long has our world suffered from the silence of good people remaining quiet and failing to see the misfortune of others by not wearing their shoes? .
     How could Jason Werth, star outfielder for the National League East champions Washington Nationals, be such a great clubhouse leader yet so blind to his social responsibility as a role model for youth? Admitting he was going over 90 miles an hour, he's going to seek a jury trial? Oh, he did have a cute response to the officer when asked what he was doing by responding with the statement, "pressing my luck". Such a remarkable example of the rich white man flaunting rules that are established for the benefit of all of us. I wonder what the responding officer, unsheathing his pistol, might have done had the driver been a member of one of America's minority groups. I can't help but think about how our society would be improved if people in power and money (aren't they the same), addicted to speed, with uncontrolled sexual desires, poisoned with power or a host of other "sins" would admit their problem and seek medical help. Are you reading this, Bill Clinton?
      Sally Jenkins, stellar sports writer for the Post, continues the tradition of insightful sportswriters who have long commented on the American scene through their writings. Her article looks at the entrenched society and stopgap measures in the hopes of finding ways to protect vested interests and maintain the status quo in the face of deep-seated problems. Continuing to depend on committees appointed, staffed and chaired by the same people protecting their turf is no way to solve the complex problems of the NCAA or the nation. I can think of no other organization, group or governmental agency that has brought needed changes to our society from race to sexual orientation to opportunities for disadvantaged youth than sports and sportswriters from Boswell to Albom who have diligently and effectively reported on the American scene by joining athletes in citing areas of needed change.
        For most of a century I have seen many changes in our nation's story. Having had more time to reflect on almost 90 years as I recuperated from surgery. it's increasingly apparent to me that most of the beneficial changes in our society began on athletic fields as individuals/anonymous groups have stood up to established mores. I never once imagined that I would see the football team for Alabama composed of the players that are now a part of that team. We in the “Greatest Generations had them drink at different fountains and sit in the back of the bus. Change in society was furthered by Jackie Robinson, Branch Rickey, Curt Flood, and a host of other individuals that our insightful sports writers could list for us.
Yet how remarkable it is that our nations capital supports the team whose nickname is offensive to one of our most offended minorities. Please check my previous blog number four. Surely there must be something individuals can do to help Dan Snyder see the light.
I welcome your thoughts for possibly expanding these thoughts and turning them into a fruitful discussion.;