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My Question To The Walton Family: How Much Is Enough?

Walmart Black Friday

 

How much money is enough? Do you stop being a greedy capitalist when you no longer care what anything costs? Do you stop when you become one of the named people on the “Richest People In America” lists?  Do you stop when your company make $8.5 million dollars a day in dividends alone? Some people would say, “Never! I will never stop until I own everything!”

This is exactly the case of the Walton Family.  Sam Walton built an empire in Walmart by keeping costs down and providing people with everything they needed in one store.  Somewhere along the way, Sam’s Walmart became WALMART (dun-dun-dah), the monstrous corporation with over one million employees that drives the entire retail industry.  They force other retail shops to compete with their unscrupulous tactics like forcing employees to work on Thanksgiving, paying workers the absolute minimum, and making the majority of employees part-time to avoid having to offer any type of health benefits (forget about retirement – good luck funding that 401k on $7.25 an hour).

The Walton’s still own Walmart and they could be doing so much more for their workers, their communities and their country.  They could pay every worker $15 an hour without having raise any prices or lose out on any profits.  Yet they refuse to pay workers a living wage. In fact the Walmart corporation is one of the biggest opponents to raising the minimum wage.

Lets not forget that we as American taxpayers are subsidizing these low wages with our tax dollars.  Research from the Economic Policy Institute shows that the government spends more than $13 billion dollars a year subsidizing the retail industry’s low wages.  With a poverty rate of low-wage workers pushing over 10%, it is no wonder Walmart does food drives for their own employees.

So again I will ask how much money is enough? 

_________________________

The UFCW and Robert Reich teamed up to make this great video (http://youtu.be/_-SMetMkcVI) explaining how Walmart could give millions of Americans a raise right now, if they chose to.

Please watch this video and support a Black Friday Protest near you, visit BlackFridayProtest.org

What would YOU do with $707 billion?

WWYD_707_billion

WWYD_707_billionGoldman Sachs just weighed in with their predictions for next year’s economy. They expect “only a modest growth in business investment”… but a whopping increase in the amount of money corporations will spend buying back their own stock.

(Corporations buy back their own stock to increase per-share prices.  Many CEOs get paid more, if the price of their company’s stock rises.  And most CEOs receive at least some of their compensation as stock or stock options.  Either way, increasing the stock price increases how much $$$ the CEO takes home.)

Next year, Goldman Sachs analysts expect corporations to spend a total of $707 billion buying back their own stock.

What else could Corporate America do with that money?

  • Companies could create about nine million $50,000 jobs – with benefits!  (Wait… isn’t “nine million” the number of people who are unemployed in America, right now?)
  • Companies could “afford” to increase the wages of the 3.3 million minimum-wage workers in America. (Most minimum wage employees work 34 hours or less at their primary job… calculating that as 5.8 billion minimum-wage work-hours a year… would mean that all those workers could get a $122/hour increase!  Yeah, that was “one hundred twenty-two dollars an hour”… do the math yourself.)
  • It could pay for the Food Stamp program — for almost an entire decade. (Which only seems fair, since nearly three-quarters of families receiving public assistance are working families who don’t get paid enough to make ends meet. And it doesn’t matter how profitable the industry is: almost one-third of all bank tellers are on public assistance; more than half of all fast-food workers; thousands upon thousands of workers in other industries.)

But apparently Corporate America isn’t going to be doing anything like that, with that $707 billion. Not creating jobs. Not increasing wages. Not giving up the taxpayer subsidies for their low-wage jobs.

No, Goldman Sachs expects Corporate America to spend that money just… buying back shares of stock.

Which doesn’t really create value. It’s not a new factory, or a new product, or even a new market. All stock buybacks do is concentrate corporate ownership. Like ultra-concentrated dish soap: it’s the same stuff, just in a smaller bottle.

And yes, this does have advantages if you’re looking at things from the CEO’s perspective.

All too often stock buybacks are deceptive things, which create a sugar high in the share price, a nice little windfall for management, and pretty much nothing in the way of actual value creation.

But looking at that $707 billion from the perspective of the 99%…?

  • In a stack of $100 bills… that same money would be about 480 miles high.
  • You could buy enough ultra-concentrated dish soap to fill about 75,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

… and from the perspective of the 99%, either of those options would probably be just as good as spending all that $$$ on stock buybacks.

Have a better idea about how to spend $707 billion? Use our comments section to share it.

Read “Nightmare on Wall Street? Are Stock Buybacks Creating Another ‘Financial Bubble?’” here.

Read “Why the Economy Doesn’t Work for the 99%: Massive Payouts to Corporate Stockholders” here.

 

Nationwide, ballot questions showed: voters care about working families

I Voted

I Voted

A quick look at ballot questions, nationwide:

  • Minimum wage hikes won, big-time in Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota. Voters in those “red” states approved binding ballot questions raising their states’ minimum wages, as did voters in Oakland and San Francisco, California. Voters in Illinois and in several Wisconsin counties approved non-binding ballot questions calling for a hike in their minimum wages.
  • Guaranteed paid sick time won. In Massachusetts, voters approved paid sick time for most employees. Voters in Trenton, New Jersey, Montclair, New Jersey and Oakland, California approved local ballot questions requiring private employers to provide paid sick time.
  • Medicaid expansion won. In Wisconsin, voters who re-elected Governor Scott Walker also told him they wanted the state to join the Affordable Care Act. County after county approved non-binding questions to expand the state’s Medicaid program, “BadgerCare.”
  • Collective bargaining rights won. In Missouri, voters rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have eliminated teacher tenure and restricted bargaining rights. And in Anchorage, Alaska, voters repealed a law limiting public employees’ collective bargaining rights.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on October 10th $10.10 Minimum Wage Push

Minimum Wage 101

Raising wages will be a driving force at the polls in the approaching midterm elections. Working people will turn out for candidates who support solutions that will make a difference in the real world – from raising the minimum wage to ensuring that all workers can bargain collectively and make a livable wage. The labor movement stands in strong support of the broad campaign to bring attention to raising wages leading up to and following October 10, and it’s our responsibility to keep it going.

Labor is perfectly positioned to unite a massive movement, to raise wages and to lift up our communities. We have an opportunity to show every elected leader, from the White House on down, that those who stand proudly with working families will win in November. It’s that simple.

  • As of October 2, 2014, 22 states and the District of Columbia have minimum wages above the federal minimum wage.
  • Ten states have passed legislation to increase wages since January 2014.
  • Four more states — Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland and West Virginia — will increase their minimum wage on January 1, 2015.
  • Alaska, Arkansas, South Dakota, Illinois and Nebraska have ballot measures to raise or set wage minimums that will go to voters in November 2014.
  • Fifteen municipalities have increased the minimum wage over the last five years.

Jeanne Shaheen, A Senator New Hampshire Women Can Trust

Jeanne Shaheen 4

On “A Senator New Hampshire Women Can Trust” Tour, Jeanne Shaheen Discusses Women’s Economic Issues at New England Porch Rockers in Laconia

Shaheen Endorsed by National Association of Women Business Owners This Week

Laconia, NH – Today, Senator Jeanne Shaheen visited New England Porch Rockers, a woman-owned manufacturer of rocking chairs and furniture in Laconia, to discuss her work to expand economic opportunities for women and the issues at stake for women in the November election. Senator Shaheen was joined by Jeanne Compton of New England Porch Rockers and Donna Gaudet-Hosmer, a registered Republican and local small business owner.  Her visit to Laconia comes a day after she was endorsed by the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO).

“For decades, I’ve fought to level the playing field for women in New Hampshire by protecting women’s access to affordable healthcare, combating pay discrimination and fighting to increase the minimum wage, and my record provides a clear contrast for New Hampshire voters,” said Senator Shaheen. “Scott Brown supported the Blunt Amendment and the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, he voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act, and he opposes raising the minimum wage for thousands of New Hampshire women. Brown’s positions are simply wrong for New Hampshire.”

“Jeanne Shaheen knows that more and more families are now relying on women as the primary breadwinner,” said Jeanne Compton, owner of New England Porch Rockers. “That’s why she’s worked to expand access to affordable childcare, combat pay discrimination and promote women’s small business ownership. Jeanne has fought for women and small business owners like me, and now, I’m fighting for her.”

“Women in New Hampshire simply can’t trust someone like Scott Brown whose record shows he won’t stand up to his party to fight for women’s rights,” said Donna Gaudet-Hosmer, a registered Republican and a small business owner. “From the Hobby Lobby Decision to the Blunt Amendment, Scott Brown has been wrong on women’s health issues, and from the minimum wage to the Paycheck Fairness Act, he’s been wrong on women’s economic issues. New Hampshire women aren’t going to forget that in November.”

“Senator Shaheen has been a tireless advocate for women business owners on the U.S. Senate  Small Business Committee and has shown that she understands the integral role entrepreneurs play in our economy,” said Darla Beggs, NAWBO National Board Chair. “We are proud to lend our endorsement to Senator Shaheen and look forward to seeing her continue her efforts on behalf of small business owners.”

For more than two decades, Jeanne Shaheen has worked to make a difference for women in New Hampshire, particularly on important economic issues. As a Senator, she cosponsored the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act, and as Governor, Shaheen signed into law legislation that strengthened New Hampshire’s equal pay protections.  She has also introduced legislation to expand the childcare tax credit to help working families cope with the rising cost of child care.

Shaheen has also been a leader on women’s reproductive rights. As Governor, she signed into law bipartisan legislation guaranteeing insurance coverage for contraception; that legislation was backed by 120 Republicans and 121 Democrats in the New Hampshire State House. In the Senate, she helped introduce legislation to reverse the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision in order to protect women’s access to birth control and contraception. She has also led the fight against the Republican plan known as the Blunt Amendment which would allow an employer to deny contraception coverage for their female employees.

While representing Massachusetts in the Senate, Scott Brown co-sponsored and voted for the Blunt Amendment, and this year, he spoke out in support of the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision.

Granite State Rumblings: 10 Ways To Cut Poverty And Grow The Middle Class

Happy Family ( FLIKR CC David Amsler)
Happy Family ( FLIKR CC David Amsler)

Happy Family ( FLIKR CC David Amsler)

I spend a lot of time writing and working on poverty related issues and to some it may seem that I have little interest in talking about or protecting the middle class. This is not case. Issues that affect those living in poverty and policies that help move individuals out of poverty all relate to and have a direct impact on the middle class. A large and stable middle class has been central to America’s wealth and stability for decades. To help make the case, I am sharing a recent brief from Rebecca Vallas, Associate Director of the Poverty to Prosperity Program at the Center for American Progress and Melissa Boteach, Vice President of Half in Ten and the Poverty to Prosperity Program at the Center.

The Top Ten Solutions to Cut Poverty and Grow the Middle Class

The Census Bureau released its annual income, poverty, and health insurance report yesterday, revealing that four years into the economic recovery, there has been some progress in the poverty rate as it fell from 15 percent in 2012 to 14.5 percent in 2013, but there was no statistically significant improvement in the number of Americans living in poverty.
Furthermore, low- and middle-income workers have seen little to no income growth over the past decade, as the gains from economic growth have gone largely to the wealthiest Americans.

With flat incomes and inequality stuck at historically high levels, one might assume that chronic economic insecurity and an off-kilter economy are the new normal and that nothing can be done to fix it. But there is nothing normal or inevitable about elevated poverty levels and stagnant incomes. They are the direct result of policy choices that put wealth and income into the hands of a few at the expense of growing a strong middle class.

The good news is that different policy choices can bring different outcomes. When the government invests in jobs and policies to increase workers’ wages and families’ economic security, children and families see improved outcomes in both the short and long term.

Here are 10 steps Congress can take to cut poverty, boost economic security, and expand the middle class.

1. Create jobs

The best pathway out of poverty is a well-paying job. To get back to prerecession employment levels, we must create 5.6 million new jobs. At the current pace, however, we will not get there until July 2018. To kick-start job growth, the federal government should invest in job-creation strategies such as rebuilding our infrastructure; developing renewable energy sources; renovating abandoned housing; and making other common-sense investments that create jobs, revitalize neighborhoods, and boost our national economy. We should also build on proven models of subsidized employment to help the long-term unemployed and other disadvantaged workers re-enter the labor force.

In addition, the extension of federal unemployment insurance would have created 200,000 new jobs in 2014, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Indeed, every $1 in benefits that flows to jobless workers yields more than $1.50 in economic activity. Unfortunately, Congress failed to extend federal unemployment insurance at the end of 2013, leaving 1.3 million Americans and their families without this vital economic lifeline.

2. Raise the minimum wage

In the late 1960s, a full-time worker earning the minimum wage could lift a family of three out of poverty. Had the minimum wage back then been indexed to inflation, it would be $10.86 per hour today, compared to the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour and indexing it to inflation—as President Barack Obama and several members of Congress have called for—would lift more than 4 million Americans out of poverty. Nearly one in five children would see their parent get a raise. Recent action taken by cities and states—such as Seattle, Washington; California; Connecticut; and New Jersey—shows that boosting the minimum wage reduces poverty and increases wages.

3. Increase the Earned Income Tax Credit for childless workers

One of our nation’s most effective anti-poverty tools, the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC, helped more than 6.5 million Americans—including 3.3 million children—avoid poverty in 2012. It’s also an investment that pays long-term dividends. Children who receive the EITC are more likely to graduate high school and to have higher earnings in adulthood. Yet childless workers largely miss out on the benefit, as the maximum EITC for these workers is less than one-tenth that awarded to workers with two children.
President Obama and policymakers across the political spectrum have called for boosting the EITC in order to right this wrong. Importantly, this policy change should be combined with a hike in the minimum wage; one is not a substitute for the other.

4. Support pay equity

With female full-time workers earning just 78 cents for every $1 earned by men, action must be taken to ensure equal pay for equal work. Closing the gender wage gap would cut poverty in half for working women and their families and add nearly half a trillion dollars to the nation’s gross domestic product. Passing the Paycheck Fairness Act to hold employers accountable for discriminatory salary practices would be a key first step.

5. Provide paid leave and paid sick days

The United States is the only developed country in the world without paid family and medical leave and paid sick days, making it very difficult for millions of American families to balance work and family without having to sacrifice needed income. Paid leave is an important anti-poverty policy, as having a child is one of the leading causes of economic hardship. Additionally, nearly 4 in 10 private-sector workers—and 7 in 10 low-wage workers—do not have a single paid sick day, putting them in the impossible position of having to forgo needed income, or even their job, in order to care for a sick child. The Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, or FAMILY Act, would provide paid leave protection to workers who need to take time off due to their own illness, the illness of a family member, or the birth of a child. And the Healthy Families Act would enable workers to earn up to seven job-protected sick days per year.

6. Establish work schedules that work

Low-wage and hourly jobs increasingly come with unpredictable and constantly shifting work schedules, which means workers struggle even more to balance erratic work hours with caring for their families. Ever-changing work schedules make accessing child care even more difficult than it already is and leave workers uncertain about their monthly income. Furthermore, things many of us take for granted—such as scheduling a doctor’s appointment or a parent-teacher conference at school—become herculean tasks. The Schedules That Work Act would require two weeks’ advance notice of worker schedules, which would allow employees to request needed schedule changes. It would also protect them from retaliation for making such requests—and provide guaranteed pay for cancelled or shortened shifts. These are all important first steps to make balancing work and family possible.

7. Invest in affordable, high-quality child care and early education

The lack of affordable, high-quality child care serves as a major barrier to reaching the middle class. In fact, one year of child care for an infant costs more than one year of tuition at most states’ four-year public colleges. On average, poor families who pay out of pocket for child care spend one-third of their incomes just to be able to work. Furthermore, federal child care assistance reaches only one in six eligible children.

Boosting investments in Head Start and the Child Care and Development Block Grant, as well as passing the Strong Start for America’s Children Act—which would invest in preschool, high-quality child care for infants and toddlers, and home-visiting services for pregnant women and mothers with infants—will help more struggling families obtain the child care they need in order to work and improve the future economic mobility of America’s children.

8. Expand Medicaid

Since it was signed into law in 2010, the Affordable Care Act has expanded access to high-quality, affordable health coverage for millions of Americans. However, 23 states continue to refuse to expand their Medicaid programs to cover adults up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level—making the lives of many families on the brink much harder. Expanding Medicaid would mean more than just access to health care—it would free up limited household income for other basic needs such as paying rent and putting food on the table. Having health coverage is also an important buffer against the economic consequences of illness and injury; unpaid medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy. Studies link Medicaid coverage not only to improved health, improved access to health care services, and lower mortality rates, but also to reduced financial strain.

9. Reform the criminal justice system and enact policies that support successful re-entry

The United States incarcerates more of its citizens than any other country in the world. Today, more than 1.5 million Americans are behind bars in state and federal prisons, a figure that has increased fivefold since 1980. The impact on communities of color is particularly staggering: One in four African American children who grew up during this era of mass incarceration have had a parent incarcerated.

Mass incarceration is a key driver of poverty. When a parent is incarcerated, his or her family must find a way to make ends meet without a necessary source of income. Additionally, even a minor criminal record comes with significant collateral consequences that can serve as lifelong barriers to climbing out of poverty. For example, people with criminal records face substantial barriers to employment, housing, education, public assistance, and building good credit. More than 90 percent of employers now use background checks in hiring, and even an arrest without a conviction can prevent an individual from getting a job. The “one strike and you’re out” policy used by public housing authorities makes it difficult if not impossible for individuals with even decades-old criminal records to obtain housing, which can stand in the way of family reunification. Furthermore, a lifetime ban—for individuals with felony drug convictions—on receiving certain types of public assistance persists in more than half of U.S. states, making subsistence even more difficult for individuals seeking to regain their footing, and their families.

In addition to common-sense sentencing reform to ensure that we no longer fill our nation’s prisons with nonviolent, low-level offenders, policymakers should explore alternatives to incarceration, such as diversion programs for individuals with mental health and substance abuse challenges. We must also remove barriers to employment, housing, education, and public assistance. A decades-old criminal record should not consign an individual to a life of poverty.

10. Do no harm

The across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration—which took effect in 2013—slashed funding for programs and services that provide vital support to low-income families. Sequestration cost the U.S. economy as many as 1.6 million jobs between mid-2013 and 2014. Some relief was provided this January, when Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014, but many important tools to help low-income individuals and families pave a path to the middle class—such as adult and youth education and training programs, child welfare, and community development programs—were on a downward funding trend even before sequestration took effect.

As Congress considers a continuing resolution to fund the federal government past October 1 and avoid another government shutdown, it should reject further cuts to programs and services such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC, which provides vital nutrition assistance to pregnant women and mothers with new babies. Thereafter, Congress should make permanent the important improvements made to the EITC and the Child Tax Credit as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which are set to expire in 2017. And it should avoid additional cuts to vital programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, which suffered two rounds of deep cuts in 2013 and 2014.

Conclusion

It is possible for America to dramatically cut poverty. Between 1959 and 1973, a strong economy, investments in family economic security, and new civil rights protections helped cut the U.S. poverty rate in half. Investments in nutrition assistance have improved educational attainment, earnings, and income among the young girls who were some of the food stamp program’s first recipients. Expansions of public health insurance have lowered infant mortality rates and reduced the incidence of low birth rates. In more recent history, states that raised the minimum wage have illustrated the important role that policy plays in combating wage stagnation.

There is nothing inevitable about poverty. We just need to build the political will to enact the policies that will increase economic security, expand opportunities, and grow the middle class.

GROWING UP GRANITE

The NH Center for Public Policy Studies recently released their report, “What is New Hampshire?” 2014 Edition. Here is just a small piece of the report and here is where to go find and read the rest of it!

New Hampshire is navigating a series of shifting economic, demographic, social and political forces. Among the new trends shaping the state into the 21st Century: an aging population; increasing racial and ethnic diversity; a shift away from the high-growth economic model of the past; and continued demand on the state budget for public services. While the implications of these and other challenges are still unclear, they do raise critical policy questions explored in this report.

Throughout its history, New Hampshire has worn many identities: agricultural outpost on the edge of New England; bustling engine of the Industrial Revolution; oasis for nature-seeking tourists; haven for tax-fleeing transplants. In the early years of the 21st Century, New Hampshire is still evolving amid shifting economic, demographic, social and political forces.

Among the new trends shaping the “new” New Hampshire: an aging population; increasing racial and ethnic diversity; a shift away from the high-growth economic model of the past; and continued demand on the state budget for public services

While the implications of these and other challenges are still unclear, they do raise critical policy questions, including:

  • Economy: New Hampshire suffered the effects of the Great Recession less severely than many other states, but slow job growth continues to gnaw at the state’s economy. As of the summer of 2014, New Hampshire lagged behind the nation and the rest of New England in recovering jobs lost during the recession. What is the state’s economic development plan, especially in relation to demographic trends that show New Hampshire’s population growth slowing in coming years? What specific industries or regions of New Hampshire will help shape the state’s economy in coming years? What regional approaches to economic development will find greatest success?
  • Demographic change: While New Hampshire is consistently rated one of the best places in the country to raise children, our population as a whole continues to age. Meanwhile, our school enrollment continues on a decade-long decline, and several measures of youth well-being in the state show worrisome trends, including rising levels of childhood poverty. What are the implications of these developments on education policy, housing, public services and transportation?
  • Health care: New Hampshire’s health policy landscape faces great uncertainty amid recent reforms at the national level, as well as continued rises in cost and the continued aging of the state’s population. What impact will the shifting health marketplace have on New Hampshire’s economy and the well-being of its residents?
  • Long-term planning: State policymakers face a long list of critical issues in coming years: public infrastructure investment, education finance, corrections spending, health care, and energy policy, among others. Many of these require a long-term perspective and an understanding of multi-year trends. How will the state – which has a two-year budget cycle and a two-year term for all major state offices – manage to plan decades into the future?

This report is our annual survey of the major policy issues and critical questions shaping our future. The data explain where New Hampshire has been, forecast where it is heading, and explore how current trends and policy choices facing the state will affect the well-being of its citizens.

Millennials Play A Key Part In Our Elections. Why Is Fosters Trying To Scare Them?

Money ('PT Money' ptmoney-com)
Money ('PT Money' ptmoney-com)

Image via ‘PT Money’ at ptmoney.com

Republicans and Democrats are actively trying to court “millennials” to vote for them. Of course the Republicans are at a big disadvantage in this fight because they are stigmatized by the fact that many feel the GOP is nothing but a party of old rich white guys.

It does not help when you see editorials like this one (Another day older and deeper in debt) from the ultra-conservative editors at Fosters Daily Democrat. They are trying to push millennials into voting against Senator Shaheen because she wants to help reduce their student loan debt, and they say that could raise taxes on, “your parents”. Say what?

“Democrats such as U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen would like to offer you lower interest rates, at the expense of raising taxes on, perhaps, your parents.”

This is complete garbage. Senator Shaheen is pushing for a bill authored by Senator Elizabeth Warren, which would allow students to refinance their student loans from interest rates of 6-8% to less than 1%.

Fosters does get a few things right:

  • The average college graduate in New Hampshire leaves school with $33,000 in student loan debt.
  • The federal government is making money off of your student loans.

These are absolute true, and I think it is appalling. The federal government made upwards of $66 billion dollars in profit off of student loans between 2007 and 2012. Senator Elizabeth Warren essentially said that if banks can borrow from the government at .75% then our students should be given the same deal as the big banks.

So what would happen to the federal budget if they cut out the $66 billion dollars in profits from student loans? Fosters wants you to believe that this will result in a tax increase on your parents. This is completely untrue. None of these changes would increase taxes on the middle class families of New Hampshire.

The tax increase that Senator Warren suggested has been dubbed “the Buffet rule” after billionaire Warren Buffet. The tax increase would only effect the ultra-wealthy 1% of America. Warren Buffet has said in many different ways that it is absolutely wrong that he pays a lower effective tax rate than his own secretary. He suggested that the ultra-wealthy 1% could, and should, be paying a higher tax rate.

I agree with Fosters that the national debt is a problem. We must find a way to reduce our national debt that helps to build a stronger economy and a better community. The editors at Fosters and I disagree on the ways we need to address this problem. They want to follow the GOP rhetoric that we must reduce the size of government and force draconian cuts to all federal programs (except for anything surrounding the DOD). I disagree with this. If you look back at history, it was government investment through work programs (building roads and bridges), increasing the minimum wage, a strong manufacturing base and strong unions that pulled us out of the Great Depression. At the same time we created “Social Security” to help our seniors retire with dignity.

Next we need to raise our gross domestic product. We need to increase manufacturing here at home and start reducing our debt by changing our trade deficit to a trade surplus. The more we make right here at home, the more people have jobs. The more jobs we have, the more money is spent in our local communities. It starts by looking for the “made in the USA” label!

Next to reduce government spending and reduce our national debt, we must start by increasing the minimum wage. Too many Americans are working one, two or even three jobs and can barely afford to pay their rent and feed their children. By increasing the minimum wage, to a real living wage, full time workers would be making enough to take care of their family without any assistance from the government.

Of course there are other solutions that none of the “Tea Party” conservatives want to talk about. One is placing a .5% tax on Wall Street. The tax would take a fraction of a penny on every transaction. This “Robin Hood Tax” would generate upwards of $350 billion dollars a year. $350 billion would cover the loss in revenue from the student loan interest, restore some of the cuts made to social programs, and still have plenty more to begin to repay our national debt. This would also have the added benefit of slowing down Wall Street and encouraging corporations to invest more of their profits in workers and the longevity of their company, not inflating their stock prices.

Ultimately it is about ensuring that corporations and the millionaires and billionaires are paying their fair share in taxes.

 __________________________________________

One last thing, Fosters tossed in this line about Social Security which is another attempt to scare millennials into believing that Social Security will be extinct by the time they reach retirement.

“According to Pew Research, 90 percent believe Social Security benefits will be reduced (39%) by the time you become eligible or won’t exist at all (51%).” (Emphasis added)

This statement is nothing more than proof that the majority of Americans do not understand what is really happening to Social Security. These numbers are the results of a poll where people believe that Social Security will completely fall apart.

As the AFL-CIO laid it out, “Social Security is not going broke. It will always be able to collect payroll tax revenue to fund benefits. According to the Trustees, Social Security can pay 100% of promised benefits until 2033. Without any changes at all, Social Security can pay three-fourths of promised benefits indefinitely after that.

The Social Security Trust Fund collects money from payroll taxes. By increasing the minimum wage, it would automatically increase the revenues collected through the payroll tax therefor strengthening Social Security, and adding to its fully funded longevity.

Many elected leaders like Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders think that minor adjustment to the Payroll Tax would strengthen Social Security and would allow for higher benefits for retirees. They just want to remove the Social Security cap forcing the ultra-wealthy to pay into Social Security Trust Fund like all the rest of us. Problem completely solved!

 

NH AFL-CIO Scholarship Essay Series: It Is Time To Raise The Minimum Wage

Rishi Patel

Today’s essay comes from Rishi Patel.  Some of you may remember Rishi from last years essay contest where Rishi won for his essay on immigration reform.  Rishi’s mother Naina,is an IBEW member from local #1505.  Rishi is attending Bentley University this fall. 

It Is Time To Raise The Minimum Wage

By Rishi Patel (titled by NHLN editor) 

Rishi PatelIn early January, Mark MacKenzie, the President of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO, said that by increasing the minimum wage, New Hampshire will be “sending a strong message that we are not going to allow people to live below the poverty line.” MacKenzie is able to point out that regardless of how many people are affected, even if it is few, the state must make sure that people are able to bring food on the table and keep a roof above their head. The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 only earns $15,080 yearly, which is “$4,000 less than the poverty-level income for a family of three.” People earning the minimum wage are not the only ones that will be benefitting from the reform. If the minimum wage is raised up to $8.25 and eventually $9.00, everyone will in turn benefit from it. The state will enhance its economy as there will be more money flowing through it. There are many people who challenge this view by stating that only teens will be affected, or small business will not be able to handle the increases in the salary expenses. Yet these statements are either false or assume that the minimum wage is not going to impact the market at all. Since these statements are flawed and increasing the minimum wage can strengthen the position of the state, the minimum wage should be increased.

A major way in which increasing the minimum wage will strengthen the position of the state is by raising the standard of living in the state. Standard of living is the “degree of wealth and material comfort available to a person or community.” In other words, it is the measure of how well people are able to live. If the people who earn the least amount of money are able to earn more, the standard of living for New Hampshire will go up. This is beneficial because everyone will be able to pay “$19,157 per year” towards personal expenses. That figure is the amount of money needed for a person in Concord to afford “basic necessities such as food, housing, or medical care.” In other words, people will be able to pay for the basic needs and have more economic security. Economically, state aid programs such as Medicaid would be relieved. Even though only “4.2%” of the people in New Hampshire are earning minimum wage or lower, it does not mean that state cannot improve and strengthen its position. New Hampshire does not experience exacerbated poverty when compared to other states, but the end goal for the state government is not to be in a better position than other states, but to be the best possible position for its people. Thus, even though a small number of people will be relieved from being under the poverty line, it does not change the fact that people of the state will be more likely to live a comfortable and fulfilling life.

Additionally, increasing the minimum wage will strengthen the position of the state because there will be a consequent increase the “demand for the goods and services sold by businesses operating in the Granite State.” According to “researchers from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago[who were] looking back over a 23 year period concluded that, for every dollar minimum wages had climbed in the past, consumer spending among affected low-wage households grew by $700 in the quarters immediately following the increase.” This means that the “4.2%” of people who would be under the poverty line would end up spending $700 dollars more per quarter. This is not just 4.2% of people but also all the “low wage” households. All of this additional money will strengthen the economy, and more importantly strengthen the position and economic health of the state.

It is clear that by creating more economic security and increasing the amount of money that will flow through the state, increasing the minimum wage will strengthen the position of the state. Still, people tend to think that increasing the minimum wage will not strengthen the position of the state. People with these thoughts tend to oppose with the same arguments. They claim that the increase in wages will only affect teens, or that small business will not be able to handle the pressure of paying more to employees. Yet these statements tend to be flawed.

Most people who say that it will only affect teens fail to realize the fact that raising the minimum wage will increase the economic security for everyone. They also do not realize that it will increase the amount of money that flows through the state. According to the United States Department of Labor, “88 percent of those who would benefit from a federal minimum wage increase are age 20 or older, and 55 percent are women.” Not only are most people who are paid minimum wage not teens, but they are also women and people of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Another argument that is normally made against raising the minimum wage is that small business owners will find it difficult to pay their way while possessing a healthy the bottom line. Yet, these people need to know that small business owners are not against the idea. In actuality, more seem to support it. According to the United State Department of Labor, “Small business owners believe that a higher minimum wage would benefit business in important ways: 58% say raising the minimum wage would increase consumer purchasing power. 56% say raising the minimum wage would help the economy. In addition, 53% agree that with a higher minimum wage, businesses would benefit from lower employee turnover, increased productivity and customer satisfaction.” Increasing the purchasing power will strengthen the position of people and the state itself. More importantly, a lower employee turnover ratio means that people will start performing better as they feel more valued.

Raising the minimum wage will leave the employees feeling more valuable, while it leaves customers feeling more satisfied with services and products; it will greatly affect all of the people in the state, and will harness a stronger economy within the state. Since it has the ability to influence the life of NH constituents in such a positive manner and since it is the state is responsible for the wellbeing of its constituents and betterment of the state economy, minimum wage ought to be raised. There is no doubting this vital decision.

 

 

 

 

References

http://www.dol.gov/minwage/mythbuster.htm

http://www.concordmonitor.com/home/4071768-95/wage-minimum-hampshire-workers

http://www.bls.gov/ro1/nhminwage.pdf

NH AFL-CIO Scholarship Essay Series: Stuck in the Crossfire

Ariana Smith

Today’s essay comes from Adriana Smith. The following essay took 3rd place in the annual scholarship contest.  Adriana’s mother Deb is a member of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) local 230.  Adriana is attending Weaton College this fall.  

Stuck in the Crossfire

by Adriana Smith

 

Ariana SmithGrowing up, my dad had always bounced around from job to job. When I was ten, he was working at a small bar down in Massachusetts, so my younger brother and I rarely got to see him. However, when an opportunity presented itself to start working at an Italian chain restaurant located near my brother and I, he jumped at the job, and the chance to see his kids more often. The pay was $3.10 an hour plus tips. For some, that pay scale may seem like an opportunity to make unlimited tips, and bring in bundles of cash at the end of every shift. However, my father was a middle aged man, put on almost every lunch shift. For those that have never worked in the food industry, lunch shifts are more difficult to receive living tips on, because the meals are significantly less expensive. A smaller bill means a smaller tip, which means a leaner pay check. My dad was lucky, if by the end of the week he broke even with minimum wage. Although my dad did his best to keep his head above water from week to week, my brother and I could feel the financial strain while living with him.

My dad found an apartment nearby, with a high cost of rent, with no utilities included. Desperate to be able to stay near his kids and with next to no options, he signed the lease. While my brother and I were both grateful to see our father more, there were sacrifices. You can imagine, that living the life of a waiter’s daughter is not glamorous. However, the conditions which we lived in some weeks, went beyond the limits of just being dowdy or drab. Mid-winter there would be no heat because he couldn’t afford to fill the oil tank. Every night as the cold crept in, I would curl under my heated blanket, tucking my knees under my chin. In the mornings, I would rush to take a shower as quickly as possible to get out of the frigid water, my hair freezing every day on the way to school. Meals were not enticing, we ate “Toastie O’s” (brand name Cheerios were too expensive) for breakfast every day, and some nights even for dinner. However, there was always food on the table. It wasn’t until recently that he confessed to me he would go days without eating, if my brother and I weren’t around, simply because he couldn’t afford to keep himself fed. We had fallen well below the poverty line, despite my dad working forty hours or more a week. However, that sombering fact had never truly hit me as a young child. It never occurred to me that my dad worked a full time job, and was barely able to feed his family. But now, as a socially aware student heading off to college, I see the atrocity in this fact.

Minimum wage has always been a source of debate, from raising it, to lowering it, to cutting it all together. It is one of the issues that currently divides our country, and is passionately spoken about by both sides. In 2013 part of Obama’s platform was to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by the end of 2016, which is almost a forty percent pay increase. But what would this pay increase actually do to our country? The conservatives say the job market would collapse and inflation would soar, the liberals say it would stimulate the economy and pull countless families out of poverty. The truth lies somewhere in between. So let’s focus on the negative first, jobs would be lost. Increased wages means some companies would have to let employees go because they cannot afford them. NPR reports that the predicted job loss is 500,000 people, or about .3 percent of the work force. However, that number is uncertain because our economy as a whole is unpredictable. The actual number of potential jobs lost ranges anywhere from zero to a million, as studies showed outcomes falling within that range. Another worry about wage increase is not only that jobs would be lost, but jobs that will not be created. Considering that the average business owner in New Hampshire would now have to pay their employees almost forty percent more, this could keep them from opening new positions in the company out of cost effectiveness. Thus, not only are jobs cut, jobs are not being made.

However, not every effect on the economy would be negative. A person working forty hours a week, every week, getting paid minimum wage, makes $15,080 a year before taxes. A person working the same schedule, at the same job, with the wage increase, makes $21,008 before taxes. When you only make $15,000 a year, an extra $6,000 is life changing. Low income families will finally have spending power. They will no longer have to choose between food and heat in the winter, or worry about where their next meal will come from. The pay increase would be enough to pull 900,000 people above the poverty line. By being pulled above the poverty line, the families would no longer have a need for government subsidies, meaning it will save the average tax payer money. And with the increased demand in the market, jobs would be created for production. Not only that, but the increased wages could help companies become more efficient as well. Instead of cutting employees or positions, CEO’s and bosses could instead ask for increased effort in their labor, instead of going through the costly and morale breaking process of firing people.

However, what is lost in this debate is human compassion. When the argument becomes so black and white, we lose sight of who is truly being affected by this decision – struggling families. Struggling families, with children who don’t know why they went to bed cold, or why they are having cereal for the eighth night in a row. So another child never has to question why it’s happening to them, I fully support a minimum wage increase in the state of New Hampshire.

 

NH AFL-CIO Scholarship Essay Series: To Raise, Or Not To Raise {The Minimum Wage}: That Is The Question

Tyler Tambouris

Today’s NH AFL-CIO Scholarship essay winner is Tyler Tambouris.  Tyler’s father Michael is a Sheet Metal Worker (local 17).   Tyler is attending River University this year.  This essay won Tyler second place in the scholarship essay contest. 

To Raise, or Not to Raise: That is the Question

Tyler TambourisBy:  Tyler Tambouris

Should New Hampshire enact a State minimum wage, which would be higher than the Federal limit? To this question, I would absolutely answer yes!   I have read several articles and spoken to many people regarding raising the minimum wage.  I have heard both sides of the argument and seen facts that go for and against both sides.  I am convinced that raising the State minimum wage would do more good than harm.

In all the articles I have read, this topic seems to be a Republican versus Democrat debate.  It sounds as if the majority of the Republicans think that raising the minimum wage would hurt our economy by causing many people to lose their job.  They think that if the pay goes up, companies will no longer be able to afford all the workers so they will have to let many go.  This in turn will cause people to rely on the system more and spend less.  However, I also read the data that showed what happened to the states that did raise the minimum wage, and the facts overwhelmingly prove those Republicans wrong.  It showed that although there was some job loss in the beginning, it was substantially lower than stated and only lasted for a short time.  Overall, because people were making more money, they were also spending more in local businesses, which eventually lead to hiring more people.  It was a win, win situation.

When I read that minimum wage has been $7.25 an hour since September 1, 2008 it really hit home how wrong it is to not pass the Bill to raise it.  Think of gas alone and how much the price of it has gone up in just the past 2 years.  Minimum wage has stayed the same for almost 6 years, however, every expense has gone up, one just cannot survive on less than $300.00 a week.  The minimum wage just hasn’t kept up with the cost of living.

Until four years ago, my best friend’s father was a financial worker making almost 6 figures.  They lived very comfortably in Merrimack, NH.  In 2008, he was laid off from his company.  They provided him a severance package that ran out after 6 months.  During that time, he searched and searched for any comparable job, but there was nothing.  He had to get on unemployment and his wife, who was an educational assistant, had to get a second job.  This still wasn’t enough; there were threats of their house being taken away.  Grandparents had to step in and use their retirement money to help them make the bills every month.  After a year of searching for a job and collecting unemployment, my friend’s father entered a depression because he realized there just were not any jobs available for an older financial man.   He finally got a call from a retail store, however, he would start at minimum wage.  This family has had to rent out rooms in their house, and rely on the grandparents to help them.  They now live week to week, every penny accounted for.  My best friend tells me about how they can’t even afford good food. He usually comes to my house to get a nice home cooked meal, because healthy food is much more expensive than junk food or the dollar menu from McDonalds.

One article I read was from a politician that challenged himself to survive on minimum wage for one week, one week!!!  He stated that he had $74.00 for food, gas, and just any incidental we need day to day.  This money had run out by Thursday.  He was forced to walk 2 miles to work and meetings, and eat junk food because it was so inexpensive.  Never mind if he got sick, there was no money for the doctor or medicine.

After thinking about all the articles I have read, and all the people I have spoken with, it just seems like the only thing that will help the people of New Hampshire and New Hampshire’s economy, is to raise the State Minimum Wage.  New Hampshire’s minimum wage is the lowest in New England, why is it that our politicians don’t see the benefits?  Yes, there was evidence of some employees losing their job immediately after raising the minimum wage, however, the long-term effects show improvement in the state’s economy.

Not only would it be beneficial to the people that are working in these jobs, data shows that low wage workers, out of necessity, usually spend every dollar they can in local grocery stores, gas stations, and businesses.  Raising their wages would also raise the money they would be spending.

Another benefit would be for the businesses paying higher than minimum wage.  Data has shown that the workers will spend more time with a company if they are making enough to live.  This will save the company money in having to frequently train workers.  Their employees will also be happier working for them, which will improve their work production.

In conclusion, raising minimum wage would be a boost of the economy in New Hampshire. No matter what the scenario, there will be downsides to either choice. But, I strongly feel that the upsides of raising minimum wage definitely outweigh the downsides of it. Not only will it boost the economy, but it will help people to live a better lifestyle!

 

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