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Thoughts on labor day: things to do

by reader drew

Legislatively (re)impose a fair and balanced labor market:

First, double the minimum wage to $13/hr over three years (a dollar every six months?) – and – legally guarantee inflation adjustments for incomes under $100,000.
Doubling the minimum wage could potentially add an average 50% more pay to below 50 percentile earnings ($13/hr being today’s 35 percentile wage) – accompanied by only (an easily computed) 3% direct price increases plus perhaps (?) 3% more after other wages are pushed up – a minimum wage-force multiplier.

Next, legislatively introduce French-Canadian style (lite) sector-wide labor agreements to the US labor market (airline and supermarket employees would kill for sector-wide contracts) – and – legally mandate union certification and re-certification elections (every four years?) at every work place (periodic re-certification could clean up the most common objections to unions: entrenched, complacent or even corrupt leaderships).

Top 10 percentile incomes enjoy 40 percent of the take these days (up from 27.5% in 1973) – plenty of headroom there for the mid 50-90 percentile to rake back more missing share points through higher labor prices – a collective bargaining-force multiplier.

Finally, (at least temporarily?) hike marginal tax rates (75% over $500,000, $1,000,000?). Folks earning 2500% more than folks doing the same work 25-35 years ago will not return all the way to earth through 12.5-25% price increases – erode a force multiplier.

America’s lower 90 percentile earners never think to impose legislative hegemony to recoup the 12.5% income share they have lost to top 3 percentile since 1973 – their unemployed force multiplier.

Denis Drew

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A Government Agency Against Competition & Testing for Food Safety

This AP story summarizes a shocking news story and an even more shocking Appeals Court ruling:

The government can prohibit meat packers from testing their animals for mad cow disease, a federal appeals court said Friday, overturning a lower court ruling that would have allowed such testing. Because the Agriculture Department tests only a small percentage of cows for the deadly disease, Kansas meatpacker Creekstone Farms Premium Beef wanted to test all of its cows. The government said it could not. Larger meat companies worry that if Creekstone performed the test and advertised its meat as safe, they could be forced to do the expensive test, too. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Friday overturned a lower court ruling. The appeals court said restricting the test is within the scope of the government’s authority.

The lower court ruling can be found here. I agree with Stan Collender:

Let me see if I have this right.
1. Creekstone had to get government permission to provide a safer product for consumers.
2. The USDA didn’t grant that permission because it might provide Creekstone with a competitive advantage over other meatpackers.
3. The court agreed that the federal government has the right to impose rules that reduce competition within the United States AND at the same time make meat less safe to eat.
4. And this is a USDA that, under a Republican president, should be in favor of increased rather than decreased competition.
Here’s my question: Why did Creekstone even ask for permission?

We want the USDA to insure that we get more attention to food safety in situations where the private sector does not provide sufficient incentives for companies to do so. Creekstone saw a competitive advantage in providing a safer product and the government decides to tell this company no? Why? Because the big boys did not want this kind of competition? This is the kind of crony capitalism that legitimately drives conservatives insane.

Update: Reuters provides more on why Creekstone wanted to do additional testing:

USDA allows the mad-cow test kits to be sold only to laboratories that it approves. It says the tests should not be used as a marketing tool and the cattle that comprise the bulk of the meat supply are too young to be tested reliably. Two large export markets, Japan and South Korea, accept beef only from younger U.S. cattle. Mad cow is found mostly in older cattle. Its incubation period is two to eight years. Creekstone said it lost $200,000 a day due to reduced U.S. beef exports when it filed its lawsuit.

Just lovely! The USDA and the Appeals Court are protecting Asian beef producers from competition from US exports!

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Politicizing Gustav

When I did not think Rick Davis could not get more pathetic, he exceeds expectations:

John McCain’s campaign manager today accused Barack Obama of practicing politics as Hurricane Gustav bears down on the Gulf Coast. Rick Davis, in a brief interview following a pep talk he gave to convention volunteers in St. Paul, Minn., said there was a difference between the actions of McCain and Obama. “Look at what happened today — did Barack Obama attack John McCain or Sarah Palin?” Davis asked. Told Obama had criticized McCain and Palin on the campaign trail over pay equity, Davis continued: “So he attacks us while there’s a hurricane going on and John McCain suspends his convention basically. What bigger contrast can you have about putting your country first?” While dismayed about the impact Gustav is sure to have on their convention, Republicans see the storm as another opportunity to paint McCain as somebody who, even to the detriment of his own campaign, is willing to sacrifice his political interests for a larger good. “It’s pretty for him to set politics behind his country,” Davis stated. “He does it all the time. Believe me, it’s not the easiest way in the world to run a campaign. But this is business as usual in McCainworld.” And, Davis argued, that’s not how their Democratic rival operates. “I thought Barack Obama said the other night that everybody puts their country first,” he said with a touch of sarcasm. “Really?”

Hang on a second – Davis is part of Team McCain. So Team McCain is abusing this potentially damaging hurricane to play dirty politics. But shouldn’t we give credit to McCain and Palin for caring about the Gulf residents? Let me turn the microphone over to Will Thomas:

That being said, I find it disturbing that McCain and Palin have decided to go down to Mississippi this week. A trip like this is worse than opportunism. Let us not forget that McCain doesn’t travel alone; he brings along staff and Secret Service agents, all of whom require the time and attention of local officials. The situation is reminiscent of Rumsfeld’s infamous 9/11 response to rush outside the Pentagon and give orders: the images on TV inspire confidence, at least until one remembers that our leaders are neglecting the responsibilities that are truly meant to keep us safe. Neither McCain nor Palin offer any unique advantage to New Orleans with their presence — they are not Southern politicians, they don’t have any particularly useful contacts in the area and they aren’t emergency responders. (Meanwhile, Obama will not travel to the region but has said he will use his fundraiser lists to coordinate volunteers once damage is assessed.) However, McCain could be particularly helpful from his Senate position, if he so chose.

And consider this photo-op:

McCain was scheduled to deliver his acceptance speech Thursday, but now may do so from the devastation zone if the storm hits the U.S. coast with the ferocity feared by forecasters.

The transparency burns!

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