Archives for posts with tag: justice

We agree.  Let’s go see.

First, lunch.  The Hardee’s drive-thru near our office.  Charbroiled chicken sandwiches.  Neal’s driving so I get to eat mine first.  Neal wanted to try the jalapeno something-somethings, which look something like batter dipped french fries.  I try one.  Neal munches while he heads the car onto westbound I-64.

People, some people, around here still insist on saying “Forty” when referring to I-64.  US 40.  It is.  But after a year in St Louis I know it’s the old-timers.  Some of those old-timers really aren’t old.   It’s more a frame of mind.  US 40.  It hints back to a day before the federal interstate system.  Pre-Eisenhower.  I guess that when I was a kid someone was starting to build these interstate roads.

When I was a kid.  That would have been the days of Kennedy, Nixon.  The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

North on I-170.  East on I-270.  Exit and then south on Florissant Ave.  We turn left into the drive for a community center where Salvation Army and a few other agencies set up last Saturday, will again tomorrow, to serve people of Ferguson MO.  Park.  Go in.  Talk to a couple of the staff.  Who commiserate with us about the troubles.  Back in the car.  I drive so Neal can eat his now cold sandwich.

We continue south on Florissant.  It is a suburb that looks like a suburb.  Businesses, not close together.  Just enough space to give them the look of eyes a little too far apart.  We are seeing police cars everywhere.  St Louis County cruisers.  At about every corner.  It looks like the President could come through.  Not today.

We also see homes.  Neat, definitely not ostentatious.  Tidy neighborhoods.  Closer together than Florissant Ave. businesses.  Humble homes huddling together, still.  It’s early afternoon and they look very quiet.

Now, lots of police.  Cars, but now standing, small groups walking.  I notice the older policeman who seems to be represented in each group of county brown.  How they are described, they look, in their uniforms.  Yes, mostly white.

We have joined dense slowly moving traffic.

Somehow it reminds me of the tourists who visit Paris to see Notre Dame at Sunday vespers.  Worshipers sit.  Around them slowly circulate the tourists there to see the cathedral, hear the organ.  Not engaged, not worshiping.  Just came to see the thing.

On the left.  The burnt-out Quik Trip which is a landmark for these times of trouble in Ferguson.  Dramatic, how the burnt front and center is skeleton like, structural metal bare, swooping upward.  Now it reminds me of Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago’s Millennium Park.  I have an overactive associating mind.

On the right, the McDonald’s which is not burnt but has seen its share of troubles.  Lots of people and dozens of police.  Later in the day we hear it’s because Jesse Jackson was in there.

We see the Schnucks and Target stores and the ominous dark law enforcement vehicles in their lots.  I think Neal said ‘FBI’ and I think I saw SWAT on one.  Here and there, traffic lanes and drives blocked off.  Some shoppers.  All who we see, police and non-police, are in slow motion, not unpleasant.  Even the few protesters with signs seem to have that certain je ne sais quoi.

August night clouds 2014

I’m driving and Neal’s trying to take photos.  When he holds the iPhone up some give us looks.  Not real hard looks, just that squinty ‘hey, what …’ look.

We drive around the Schnucks/Target lots, back to Florissant Ave.  North to I-270.  The yellow then red traffic signal abruptly catches me and we joke about getting pulled over by the police.  We both give little nervous laughs.  We are out of here.

 

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“Average weekly earnings, exclusive of fringe benefits but adjusted for inflation, are 10 percent lower today than they were in 1966”

Laurence J. Kotlikoff, economist at Boston University, also makes a case to abolish the corporate income tax for the benefit of American workers.

tax

A living wage.  The minimum wage.  Businesses threatening to move to less demanding states.  Cities fearing loss of competitiveness if the wage is raised.  Ay, ay, ay.

Earlier this month Trip Gabriel reported in the NY Times of three Maryland counties which agreed together to raise the minimum wage “essentially forming a regional pact to make it far less tempting for businesses to flee next door”.

Why do local governments seem to be increasingly interested in this issue?

At the previous minimum of $7.25, or about $15,000 a year, many workers in Montgomery County, which includes affluent suburbs like Bethesda and Chevy Chase, were too poor to afford an apartment and received county support, which Mr. Elrich said amounted to a public subsidy for private companies.

Perhaps elected officials are beginning to associate an unacceptable cost with government-provided support for those employed by businesses who do not pay their workers a living wage.  And seeing it as a business subsidy.Walmart

Chicagoans listened to radio ads last April from Governor Perry of Texas wooing Illinois businesses to move to Arlen.  maybe Austin.  Someplace in the Lone Star State.  Governor Quinn didn’t like it.  Said something about Texas being water-challenged.

USA Today re Texas aquifers

USA Today re Texas’ mighty dry aquifers

As our governors battle it out will they conduct themselves in a civil manner?  Is this a war between the states?  Who wins this time?

Here’s a little more on the living wage debate.

I ordered it without onions but guess what?

I ordered it without onions but guess what?

I found today’s St Louis PostDispatch article  $15 minimum wage:  Fairness or a job killer? helpful in presenting both sides of the issue.  Would an increase in wage result in a decrease in jobs?  Perhaps not, according to a study by Andrajit Dube.  But that is countered by David Neumark’s conclusion that a 10% increase would result in 1 – 3% reduction in employment for those earning the least.  Both Dube and Neumark are economists in the University of California system.  Go figure.

I really do not like the comments posted for this Post-Dispatch article.  Pretty much ugly and an Ebenezer Scrooge socio-economic analysis of poverty.   Those of us who have personally and extensively worked with low income families and in their neighborhoods have come to realize the enormously complex and wearying challenges they face.  Helps us from making too many ignorant opinionated comments.

At this point I am tending to suspect there is merit to raising the minimum wage.  If Neumark is correct, it would give me more reason to pass up my occasional McDonalds cheeseburgers.  no onions, please.

Oh, also take a look at the side bar articles –

A wide gap in pay limits the ability of poorer and middle-income Americans to improve their living standards, the economists say. About 80 percent of stock market wealth is held by the richest 10 percent of Americans. That means the stock market’s outsize gains this year have mostly benefited the already affluent.

 

A few weeks ago I posted about how much a McDonalds hamburger is worth.  Here’s a nicely stated post from Raw Discourse on the subject of living wage and the poor.

Job Worries Hit Low-Income Families the Hardest or Why Poor People Will Work For Such Low Wages.

The WordPress powers have interceded and my blog is now restored.  Thank you.

Here’s some of the facts and a little bit of the human story on the federal government’s reduction in SNAP (food stamps) this month reported today by Kim Severson and Winnie Hu of the New York Times.

d36caf50-bcdf-4b55-b8ad-97276cbbd7ceToday I was in Marion IL visiting our Salvation Army center that serves the southern part of Illinois.  Cindy Cowgur runs our operations there and she tells me that somewhere between 400-500 families will receive Christmas assistance just in Williamson County.  And that about 70 families each month now receive a bag of groceries there.  I don’t know the numbers, but families in 21 additional southern Illinois counties will also receive Salvation Army Christmas food.

I didn’t have time to talk with Cindy about the effect this SNAP reduction will have.  But I’m sure it will soon be felt.

Take two minutes to watch the video in the Severson and Hu article.  Compare the current Congress’ desire to reduce SNAP with a rise in the US poverty rate.  What to expect?  Cindy and her staff are going to have more monthly visitors.  Soon.

Matt A. and Bill W. on Facebook have contributed and commented on this post.  Bill shared a CNBC video ‘fast food workers worth $15/hour?’

A good point:  fast food jobs can and do offer entry level experience for young people and people new to the USA. Read the rest of this entry »

How much is a McDonald’s hamburger worth to you?

no onions, please

no onions, please

Would you be willing to pay more for that Quarter Pounder with Cheese, for that Dollar Menu McDouble, if it meant that half of McDonald’s employees could stop receiving public assistance?

If so, it would mean saving local, state and federal governments the estimated 1.2 billion dollars they annually give to employees of the Oak Brook IL based corporation, the world’s largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants.  It would also mean that McDonald’s employees receiving public aid would not be affected by today’s federal reduction of the SNAP program, what we commonly call food stamps.

Controversy:  living wages and unions for fast food workers.

No controversy:  work for a fast food chain and you have a fifty-fifty chance that you will qualify for, that you will need public assistance.

First its public school system.

Then, its government.

Now Detroit’s court system joins its schools and city government in a scenario no large city wants.

“Detroit city government, its public school district, and its city court system are now all under the control of state-appointed managers” says today’s Detroit Free Press.

The Michigan State Supreme Court has appointed Judge Michael Talbot from the state court of appeals to run Detroit’s 36th District Court.  Why?  Financial and operational mismanagement, according to a study from the National Center for State Courts released last week.  Here’s Deadline Detroit’s report (I enjoyed reading the comments of StretchRun, Northman and others).

Tomorrow in Detroit a meeting takes place with court employees who face possible joblessness.  This past weekend the Detroit News reported on the reaction of the court’s employees, union officials and 36th District Court Chief Judge Kenneth King.

Is it possible they were not expecting the study’s findings and the state’s reaction?  Judge King expressed particularly strong feelings, calling the study “garbage”.Judge Kenneth King

Who to listen to?  The issues may not be clear-cut.  Here’s a March 19 Deadline Detroit article which gives one example as to how complex and challenging are 36th District’s problems.  Key phrases:  “biggest revenue generator” and “no county prosecutors showed up”.

Judge King may have reason to be frustrated.  BTW, King has been at this job for a year.  Appointed there by the Michigan State Supreme Court.

Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and Superintendent Garry McCarthy tell us that they are cleaning up the Chicago Police Department.

That’s their promise as a trial judge decided yesterday to let stand a federal jury judgment “that a ‘code of silence’ in the Chicago Police Department protects rogue officers”.

“This was a highly publicized case involving a considerable amount of public resources, including taxes paid by the people of the city of Chicago to defend this lawsuit.  This case touched on the public interest of whether the city has a widespread custom or practice of failing to adequately investigate and/or discipline its officers and whether there is a police code of silence.”  So says U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve.

For the past six years Judge St. Eve has presided over the case of a drunken police officer beating a female bartender.  This has become quite a story as does most any that ends up on .

Here’s my post from yesterday about another situation concerning the City of Chicago’s integrity.

The plaintiff’s lawyers have now given notice that their client’s $850.000 settlement along with the legal bill “likely to be in the millions of dollars” needs to be paid by month’s end.

Whether in dollars or credibility it’s justice at a high cost in Chicago.

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