Here Are the Six Steps of Denial for Minimum Wage Opponents

Here Are the Six Steps of Denial for Minimum Wage Opponents

In a brilliant bit of aggregation, Working Washington has collected all of the Seattle Times Editorial Board’s anti-$15 editorials in one post . Using headlines and a line or two from each of the 15 editorials the Ed Board has published, the post runs in chronological order from October 2013 to two days ago, and it spans the fight for $15 in both SeaTac and Seattle. It’s a fascinating look at how opponents always respond to arguments for raising the minimum wage with the same canned replies. And this collection is particularly interesting because it provides a taxonomy of the steps of denial that minimum-wage opponents go through. Here they are, in order: 1: Apocalyptic threats.  “…forget about anyone building another hotel in the city of SeaTac,” the Editorial Board warned in their very first anti-$15 editorial, as though travelers would suddenly stop needing places to sleep because the minimum wage increased. Less than a year later, when Seattle started considering a $15 minimum wage of its own, the Editorial Board warned that doing so could “undercut the economy’s resurgence,” thereby casting us forever to the hellhole that was the Great Recession. 2: We’re through the looking glass, here, people! It’s vital for minimum-wage opponents to try to trigger feelings of shame and alienation in municipal areas by pointing out that they are doing something that has literally never been done before. Surely if nobody else has raised the minimum wage this high, it must be a bad idea, right?  “SeaTac has just volunteered to conduct an economic experiment on itself,” the Editorial Board warned. Then, when Seattle got in on the fight, the Editorial Board’s metaphors got a little eerie: “Seattle is about to take off on a flight unfathomable just a year ago.” Oh, no! You mean like in Lost? They try to shame the city for standing alone: “Significantly, no other local city is proposing such a broad wage hike.” They
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Daily Clips: April 29th, 2016

Daily Clips: April 29th, 2016

Oklahoma court decides it’s not technically rape if it’s oral and she’s drunk:  Good god. This 5-0 decision is sickening and sets an awful precedent. We know we hate the establishment-but do we know what it is?  The term gets thrown around a lot. Has it lost it’s essential meaning as a result? Brooks bemoans Donald Trump’s nomination:  Schadenfreude in column form. Obama’s economic disappointment:  Yesterday, I featured the New York Times feature article on Obama and his economic legacy. Here is an entirely different take. The title kind of tips the author’s hand. Tweet of the day:    

Daily Clips: April 28th, 2016

Daily Clips: April 28th, 2016

President Obama weighs his economic legacy:  We’re now at that self-aggrandizing stage in a president’s term where they start to “cement” their legacy. Barack Obama certainly used this feature article in the New York Times to do just that. He speaks at length about the state of the US economy and how it’s not actually as bad as many Americans seem to think. The president does an admirable job of selling his economic policies. However, at times, the president sounds like he doesn’t respect the economic anxiety of many Americans (or their economic acumen): Asked if he was frustrated by all the criticism, Obama insisted that he wasn’t, at least not personally. ‘It has frustrated me only insofar as it has shaped the political debate,’ he said. ‘We were moving so fast early on that we couldn’t take victory laps. We couldn’t explain everything we were doing. I mean, one day we’re saving the banks; the next day we’re saving the auto industry; the next day we’re trying to see whether we can have some impact on the housing market.’ I understand that he got thrust into a terrible economic situation, but this comment clearly shows his disdain for public opinion. It reminds me of ObamaCare’s architect Jonathan Gruber’s comments about “ the stupidity of the American voter .” Too often, this administration passes the blame onto the American people, and I find that to be the sign of weak/ineffective leadership. A conversation with Joseph Stiglitz:  Gillian White at the Atlantic sits down with Stiglitz to discuss inequality in American society. Trump’s new campaign slogan? “America First”:  Jingoism 101. Tweet of the day: Today, #Vermont became 4th in nation to pass automatic voter registration. Read more: https://t.co/jTiCZwwPA0 pic.twitter.com/xqonqTQVGH — Brennan Center (@BrennanCenter) April 28, 2016  

The $15 Minimum Wage Is Apparently a Time Traveler

The $15 Minimum Wage Is Apparently a Time Traveler

Raising the minimum wage is power. Powerful enough to lift millions out of poverty . Powerful enough to reduce dependence on social services , such as food stamps. And, apparently, powerful enough to go back in time and change unemployment numbers for teens and also spur lawmakers to create policies to address those numbers. At least, that’s what the conservative bloggers over at ShiftWA seem to think—which would certainly explain their apparent fear of a minimum wage increase. I mean, if it’s so completely able to change the arc of time, what can’t it do? Their most recent example of the minimum wage’s might is Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s youth employment initiative which, they say, is a direct response to the massive decline in youth employment as a direct result of the gradual ascent to $15. First pointed out by right-wing think tank the Washington Policy Center, the initiative is designed to help encourage businesses to hire more youths, and to train young people to make them more job-ready. Because, according to WPC and Shift, it’s the minimum wage that has made it so hard for them to get hired. Nevermind the fact that Washington’s schools are literally criminally underfunded , which could contribute to a dearth of teens with necessary skills the join the workforce (according to the Mayor’s office, “nearly 70% of employers report graduates are deficient in critical thinking and problem solving skills essential to successful job performance”)—no, the reason teens and other young folks can’t get hired is because of a law that went into effect just about 400 days ago. That makes perfect sense, assuming that the minimum wage increase was somehow impacting employment long before it actually became a law, let alone went into effect. Washington state has had high numbers of teen unemployment for years; a 2011 report found that “Washington teens are only slightly better off than teens in Georgia when it comes to unemployment rates” (for reference,
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Daily Clips: April 27th, 2016

Daily Clips: April 27th, 2016

How to persuade rich people to pay more taxes:  The author looks at various “cognitive errors” of rich individuals and how these affect their views on taxes. I’m not entirely sure that we’ll ever be able to convince the wealthy to pay more taxes. The people we actually need to persuade are the 99%. We need to create an economic narrative and theory which adequately explains why higher taxes on the wealthy is good for everyone, including the top 1%. Smaller US goods trade gap seen boosting first quarter GDP growth:  “The U.S. goods trade deficit narrowed sharply to a one-year low in March, as both imports and exports fell, suggesting economic growth in the first-quarter was probably not as weak as currently anticipated. The racist roots of Virginia’s felon disenfranchisement:  Fascinating historical analysis. Why Tuesday was a very good night for Senate Democrats:   1) The establishment’s preferred candidate won in PA (Katie McGinty). While “McGinty has her struggles…but she comes from a working-class background and would be the state’s first female senator.” 2) They’ve got a potential new leader in Chris Van Hollen. Here’s his victory speech from last night:  

New Report: Want to Lower Incarceration Rates? Raise the Minimum Wage.

New Report: Want to Lower Incarceration Rates? Raise the Minimum Wage.

  Max Ehrenfreund at the Washington Post reports on a fascinating new look at how to lower mass incarceration numbers. Mass incarceration is failing to prevent crime, according to the Obama administration — so much so that the president’s staff is looking in a few unconventional places for new ideas on public safety. For example, raising the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour could prevent as many as half a million crimes annually, according to  a new report from the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers , a group of economists and researchers charged with providing the president with analysis and advice on economic questions… The authors consider a few ways of reducing crime. They forecast that hiking the federal minimum hourly wage from $7.25 to $12 would reduce crime by 3 percent to 5 percent, as fewer people would be forced to turn to illegal activity to make ends meet. By contrast, spending an additional $10 billion on incarceration — a massive increase — would reduce crime by only 1 percent to 4 percent, according to the report. Of all the many reasons to raise the minimum wage, I have never once seen reduced incarceration mentioned as a benefit, so that’s certainly something to be added to the list. But I also need to point out that America’s shameful incarceration rate is not a problem that can be fixed with strictly economic solutions. Much of our prison problem has to do with systematic racism, and many of the incarcerated were put there due to dumb, overly aggressive drug laws that target people of color and/or poor people. This is a problem that spans generations; it has ruined neighborhoods and families and many, many lives. Resolving our problem with rampant incarceration is not going to happen with the passage of a single law. We need a suite of laws and policy on a national level to begin to address the problem—drug law reform, sentencing reform, reinstating voting rights for people who’ve done their time, finding ways to make re-entering the
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Daily Clips: April 26th, 2016

Daily Clips: April 26th, 2016

How Reaganomics, deregulation and bailouts led to the rise of Trump:  A really powerful piece of journalism on how the American voter has been duped into believing trickle-down economics. I found this passage in particular to be precise and distressing: It took Everyman on Main Street some time to figure out that they’ve been had and finally revolt — 35 years to be more precise. There has been no shortage of big promises since Reagan’s “ It’s Morning again in America ,” but in the end, they all left the middle class staring into thin wallets while their manipulators were living high on the hog. The  failed big ideas began with Reaganomics. The stimulating effect of its tax cuts was supposed to “trickle down” to the masses, but the flow had the viscosity of molasses and stuck with the ultrarich. More American children and teens aren’t just obese. They’re morbidly obese.  According to Vox, “new research suggests” that “the fraction of adolescents with severe obesity — a body mass index of 40 or greater — has more than doubled from 0.9 percent in 1999 to 2.4 percent in 2013 and 2014. Federal judge upholds voter ID law in North Carolina:  The land of the free. Tweet of the day: Take a bow, Yglesias. What if Trump narrowly loses Iowa, leading to the collapse of his image as a “winner” and his whole campaign unravels? — Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) April 26, 2016

Remember: Bathrooms and Guns Don’t Mix

Remember: Bathrooms and Guns Don’t Mix

Sometimes two very different hot-topic news stories combine into one ugly Frankenstein’s monster of a newspocalypse. Those kind of car-crash current event moments are most likely to happen in Florida. The Orlando Weekly reports that gun-lovers and the anti-trans bathroom bills have finally reached a boiling point: After Target announced its transgender customers and employees can use store bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity, Orlando-based Liberty Counsel president Anita Staver said she would be taking her Glock .45 into Target’s restrooms, saying the gun “identifies as my bodyguard.” I mean, the cravenness of the move is almost admirable: Staver is combining the current conservative anti-trans panic and the perennial conservative pro-gun fever into a perfect storm of idiocy and opportunism. Staver says by bringing her gun into restrooms in Target, she is seeking “protection from the perverts who will use the law to gain access to women.” (Somewhat related: I wrote  about the NRA’s very bad advice about bathroom gun etiquette last month.) This is fear mongering of the highest order. I mean, Staver is practically reaching Glenn-Beck-in-2009 levels of apocalyptic panic, here. Her portrayal of bathrooms as lawless zones where anyone can and will be attacked with full approval from the government is beyond over-the-top.  But more importantly, her combining of trans bathroom issues with rampant gun culture reveals a serious logical fallacy in the conservative position. Let’s for a minute consider the conservative opposition to trans bathroom access: without strict laws to enforce the division of genders, they argue, bathrooms will be overrun by sex offenders attacking women. Presumably, those laws will empower business owners to verify the genders of people who use restrooms in their establishments. It’s unclear how that will happen, especially since in many states it’s possible to change your gender on your drivers license with the help of a physician.( Here are the laws in Washington state ; you can look up laws in the rest of the country here .)  Maybe business owners will be
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The Real Conflict in the Democratic Party

The Real Conflict in the Democratic Party

There is a real conflict occurring right now in the Democratic primary. And it’s not between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. While that narrative may be superficially intriguing, the consequential struggle is over whether it is best to progress society through incrementalism or by dramatic change. This ideological clash in the progressive movement will ultimately be what historians and scholars examine years from now. All the rest is noise. The incrementalist argument for progress is embodied in the “establishment” candidates of the Democratic Party. Once in the “dramatic change” camp, President Barack Obama has morphed into what Hillary would call “ a pragmatic progressive ” or a “ progressive who likes to get things done .” Matt Carp at Jacobin wrote an unbelievably perceptive piece  which noticed that this “model of change…begins not with policy or people but with a politician.” Incrementalist progressivism rallies “around that leader’s personal qualifications, while defending past achievement and stressing the value of party loyalty” — think Clinton’s defense of Obamacare. Carp calls this type of progressivism “fortress liberalism” and laments how this overly defensive strategy has led to “the erosion of labor unions” and “the steady evisceration of the party at the state level.” Whether you think Obama has adopted “ industrious incrementalism ” because he’s a corporate sellout or merely constrained by a hostile Congress (these two things are not mutually exclusive), a large portion of progressives would agree that the president has not dramatically changed America. If you disagree with that conclusion and believe it’s a tough verdict, then you’ll have to take it up with the president himself. In an interview last year with comedian Marc Maron , Obama recognized this reality: Sometimes the task of government is to make incremental improvements, or try to steer the ocean liner two degrees north or south, so that ten years from now, suddenly we’re in a very different place than we were. But at the time, at the moment, people may feel like, we need a
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Daily Clips: April 25th, 2016

Daily Clips: April 25th, 2016

The founding fathers weren’t concerned with inequality: So argues a column by Alana Semuels. I find her argument to be tepid, at best. She points out that “neither the Bill of Rights, nor the Declaration of Independence, nor the U.S. Constitution talk explicitly about the nation’s role in making sure its citizens have jobs or homes or earned enough to avoid being impoverished.” That’s true, but at this point in world history brave people were merely trying to attain basic civil liberties. That was the main philosophical and political battle of their time. Screw universal health care, we just want to be treated equally under the law! While Semuels notes that there is only brief mention of pledging to “promote the general welfare” in the preamble of the Constitution. Ok. But did she not read any of The Federalist Papers? If she did, she would have found that James Madison (the father of our Constitution) was very concerned with the idea of general welfare : …the public good, the real welfare of the great body of the people, is the supreme object to be pursued; and that no form of government whatever has any other value than as it may be fitted for the attainment of this object. 2016’s scrambled coalitions:  EJ Dionne contends that “ideology has mattered less in the GOP primaries this year than in the race between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.” What good are hedge funds?  A very good question and a very interesting article. Tweet of the day: Can you imagine Jeb being the head of the NFL? Yeah, me neither. @mattsgorman @AdamSchefter Travesty. Fire Goodell…immediately hire the NFL's original choice for the job, @JebBush — Jesse Hunt (@JJHunt10) April 25, 2016

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