Minimum wage coverage: When the wrong questions are being asked, and the wrong people are being interviewed | Street Jazz

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Minimum wage coverage: When the wrong questions are being asked, and the wrong people are being interviewed

Posted By on Sun, Feb 17, 2013 at 11:40 AM

"Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living." - Mary Harris "Mother" Jones, American labor organizer (1837-1930)

As soon as the dreaded “Why don’t we raise the minimum wage?” question ever gets uttered by a politician, reporters are frantic to rush down to interview conservative business owners who grimly assure the camera that they would probably have to lay people off, should an this awful thing come to pass.

We hear that line every time the wage gets raised, and the economy seems to have survived, but polite reporters never bring this up to anyone they interview.

These interviews are invariably followed by shots of an academic in a book lined office who will assure us that no, really, we’ll be okay, and that we will actually benefit.

Seldom do we hear from folks who actually work for the existing minimum wage being interviewed, let alone anyone from a labor organization - that would be a union, Obdurate Reader. One so rarely hears the union word escape the lips of journalists anymore, I suppose it is no great surprise that they would be on the bottom of the list of folks to call for an opinion, if at all.

Then again, we have a sort of fairy tale about the minimum wage in America today, that primarily teenagers make the wage, or people in “starter” jobs.”

Ha!

All around us, there are folks who have been supporting their families for decades on the minimum wage. All throughout their working lives, in fact, and so little is written about that sort of living hell.

They are the walking ghosts among us. The only time we seem to pay attention to them is when we get into a frantic debate over whether they should have enough money to support themselves, or feed and clothe their families.

Getting back to Lo, the poor restaurant owner, who cries aloud to the world, one might ask this:

Since an increase in the wage would mean more money in people’s pockets, and they might have what is laughingly referred to as “disposable income” - even as little as it might be - would you discourage them from spending it in your establishment?

Because that’s what happens, isn’t it? People get more money in their paychecks, and they are able to buy the things they need (or even just want) for themselves and their families that they couldn’t before. A fair portion of that money goes into the local economy, where it supports jobs and businesses.

I think I read this in a book somewhere.

People could save their money, true, but as a society, we just aren’t geared that way. And despite all of the high falutin’ looking down their noses talk one hears on TV and reads on Facebook, we need people to spend a fair amount of their cash on duds and fluffies just to keep our economy rolling.

So just once, I would love it the next time a news crew rushes out to interview a café owner about how raising the minimum wage would affect his business, they ask about folks having more money to spend, and if he’d like them to spend it in his happy little place - or not, as the case may be.

Where no doubt fewer workers will be doing more than their fair share of work.

And maybe, just maybe, they could skip the easy business owner/academic interviews for a change, and talk to some of the folks who actually live on the minimum wage now?

******

Oh, those Subway sandwiches! Frivolous lawsuit? Well, let me tell you about Taco Bell . . .

No doubt everyone is having a chortle about the Subway Sandwich lawsuit, brought by Vincent Gotter of Springdale. His suit contends that both the six inch and the foot-long sandwiches sold by Subway missed the mark.

“Frivolous lawsuit!” comes the battle cry.

Well, perhaps not.

When I worked at Mexican Original in the 1980s, the tortilla plant which supplied tortillas for Taco Bell, we discovered that the food chain had standards that were so stringent as to be almost disbelieved.

If a package of 12 or 24 weighed just a little too much or too little they had to be scrapped. If a tortilla was a little too big or too small, it had to be scrapped.

Thousands of pounds of flour tortillas a week were tossed and sent off to be fed to animals on farms - I assume those animals' standards were not nearly tough as the Mexican food giant.

Ah, maybe that’s how Jared Fogle, the famous Subway Sandwich spokesperson, lost so much weight so well - the sandwiches weren’t as long as they were supposed to be . . .

*****

Quote of the Day

It’s hard to detect good luck - it looks so much like something you’ve earned. - Frank A. Clark

rsdrake@cox.net

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