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Friday, April 8, 2016

Spring is ... psych!

Had the weirdest dream last night, Anti Lincoln. I dreamed I saw Joe Hill .... I mean, I dreamed there was snow all over the place, like it was mid January. Talk about unrealistic. Hey, pull up the shade ... it's kind of dark in here. What the .... WHAT?

Yeah, that snowfall took us all a little bit by surprise here at the abandoned Cheney Hammer Mill in frosty upstate New York. Somehow, after a freakishly mild winter (which I personally think was cooked up by our own Mitch Macaphee, mad science adviser), snow has returned in early April. Once again, I think Mitch might have had a hand in this. He's got this big-ass smoke machine that shoots unnamed projectiles into the heavens - missiles loaded with I don't know what the fuck, and lots of it. Mitch cranks it up, the sucker sputters and pops for a few minutes, then it starts snowing. Kind of. (That might be torn up fragments of Mitch's membership agreement with the National Academy of Mad Science.)

Nice gizmo, Mitch.Okay, so let's assume the weather has nothing to do with Mitch's cloud bazooka. This is effed up, man! Remember now - we are squatters in this here hammer mill, see? And, well ... the heat in this place is a little unreliable. Most of the winter we depend on an old wood stove in what used to be the shipping office. It's the mansized tuber's job to stoke the thing, and sometimes he falls down on the job a little. But most days we manage to keep the ice off the dishwater ... though I don't suppose you're aware of how effective ice can be as a dishwashing medium. It scrapes, it emulsifies, it .... okay, I'm exaggerating. You have to look on the bright side when you're freezing your ass off.

Winter is in extra innings. We can live with that. After all, we have spent weeks on remote planets, like Pluto, for instance. We have traveled to the center of this here Earth. We have, I don't know ... done lots of stupid stuff. Certainly this is no stupider.

So, Marvin (my personal robot assistant) and the mansized tuber are tasked with fanning the flames for another week. Good exercise, even for a robot. And an animate stump.

Paycheck politics.

California and New York both passed minimum wage bills this past week; California's a bit more generous, but both better than the status quo. Quite an accomplishment, given where this issue was just a few years ago: namely, the conservative business class demagoguing the very idea of raising working people's wages, warning of job losses, companies shutting down, etc. The federal minimum wage, enacted in 2009, is $7.25 ... an amount of money so puny that it barely makes it to your pocket before it evaporates. I would like to see some of these business owners, trade association representatives, and conservative political pundits who complain so heartily about raising it try to live on that. The simple fact is, it is not a livable wage, not by a long shot, and yet it is the amount earned by a substantial segment of the population caught up in this weak economic recovery.

They did it. Nice work.Frankly, it amazes me how cynical the resistance to a higher, inflation-indexed minimum wage truly is. Pegging the minimum at $7.25 was low enough in 2009; but the buying power of that wage has declined since then. Those who argue for leaving it where it is need to explain why they feel business should pay progressively less money for the same labor, year after year. (Am I the only one bothered by this?) Those who say that only teenagers looking for after-school work earn the minimum wage need to move into the current century. Those who feel raising the minimum wage gives earners more than they deserve, amounting to a kind of tax/entitlement, should be reminded that poor wage-earners rely more heavily on remaining forms of public assistance just to get by, such that we are all, in effect, subsidizing employers like Wal-Mart.

So things have moved on this issue a bit. Thanks are due to the many thousands of fast-food workers across the nation who stood up and demanded justice. One would hope that all of them get justice before too terribly long, but the fight continues. My own feeling is that we need a minimum wage pegged to inflation, and that the calculation for inflation should reflect more realistically the cost of living for most Americans and the types of things they spend the most money on. An indexed minimum wage will pull this issue out of the political sphere - it would also indicate a level of national comfort with the notion that people should be compensated for their hard work, and that that compensation should be resilient enough not to back-slide every time there's an energy spike.

Nice work, everyone who got involved. Let's move on to what's next.

luv u,

jp