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Comment Archives: stories: Feature: Politics

Re: “Bare Minimum

Typical liberal understanding of a complex economic situation. Have a widening gap of wealth inequity that just seems to be getting bigger? Simple, just enact a government mandate to force businesses to pay more. Who needs comprehensive knowledge of any one company's salary and overhead requirements? Just get more money!

Have savings being eroded by systemic government inflation? Simple, have government legislation make it possible for "tax-free" retirement plans and easy loans to heard previously unfathomable amounts of money into the stock market, making Wall Street the over-valued behemoth, with little relation to the real economy, that it is today.

Of course, seeing as how our country's way of dealing with its own economic woe's is to have the Fed hand over $80 billion dollars of interest free money every month to the banks coffers to hoard as they purge their balance sheets of the toxic derivative garbage they created, maybe the ideology of "give me stuff for free" is understandable.

And isn't it interesting how the Occupy Wall Street people have shifted their focus onto issues like 15 Now, instead of keeping the focus on the absolute fraud perpetrated by the major US and international banks that sank the economy in the first place. But hey, why punish the banksters like they did in Iceland when you could punish businesses instead?

Sadly, if by some remote miracle the minimum wage in Portland gets ratcheted up to 15 an hour, I don't think the support gravy train is going to last very long when the majority of folks who have worked for years to get to a point where they earn $15-20 dollars an hour realize they're now earning the equivalent of less skilled, entry level workers. Unless everyone on the chain gets a 5 dollar raise. But that would never increase prices, right?

7 likes, 12 dislikes
Posted by Spindles on 03/27/2014 at 3:31 PM

Re: “Bare Minimum

Hmmmm, so says the Economist.
Oh wait, you are a Lawyer.

4 likes, 10 dislikes
Posted by frankieb on 03/27/2014 at 2:52 PM

Re: “Bare Minimum

"Where is that money going to come from? If it is just passed on to us, the consumer, you and me, it is just going to inflate the price of everything, and in the long run none of us are going to be better off."

There's no historical precedent for this happening (that I'm aware of). If you can point to an example, please provide it. Competition actually keeps prices low while raising minimum wage puts more $ into the economy (low wage workers tend to spend most of their salary). In contrast, deregulated market speculation (AKA our system) on commodities drives prices up extremely fast as banks and hedge funds create artificial scarcity in markets. In Portland, rent prices are skyrocketing with no commensurate rise in wages or rent controls. This is a formula for displacement.

"What is more important is the relative difference in wealth between the owners/executives/managers (highly paid) and the front line troops (low paid). It is a structural thing."

I agree. Looking to solve this problem is also important and not separated from the fight for a living wage. It's all relative in the end.

"It requires a change in values, regulation, and tax policy. Not just a simple rule to bump up X to X+1."

Agree. The fight for $15 is a demand for a change in those values. Not the end all solution, but an important part of the struggle.

12 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by NCaleb on 03/27/2014 at 2:26 PM

Re: “Bare Minimum

I agree that there are bigger problems that need to be addressed and of course we as a nation need to figure out how to deal with mass globalization and how to promote local manufacture and sales.
However, in the mean time, this is something we CAN do. As JRRTRollkien highlights above (albeit toward a different point), "the prices of goods and services appear to be inflating at a much more rapid rate than the wages for unskilled workers."
Exactly. People--all kinds of people--are really struggling to adjust to cost of living, especially rent, in cities all over the country, and Portland is having this problem more than most in the affordable housing area because of the rampant desire to move here from elsewhere.

Nobody said raising the minimum wage was an end-all be-all solution for all economic ills. Other measures need to be taken, but this would be a firm step in the right direction. Workers need to have money to pay rent and buy food, plain and simple--it'd be better if they had money to afford (gasp!) schooling for their children, medical care, etc. Right now, they're spending increasing amounts just to stay alive.

I kind of resent a couple comments I see above saying that you "went to college and took out loans" so that you wouldn't have to work a minimum wage job and that others should do the same. Maybe you should do some research. There are thousands of us now who did the same thing you did...and we're still struggling to stay alive in minimum wage jobs, or maybe twenty to fifty cents extra per hour. Don't turn this into an us vs. them.

Is it really that crazy that everyone who has a job should be able to count on $30,000/year? That's still a very low yearly salary.

10 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Tori Cole on 03/27/2014 at 2:22 PM

Re: “Bare Minimum

It sure is easy to extort more money out of people when it's not your money.

6 likes, 17 dislikes
Posted by Spindles on 03/27/2014 at 11:45 AM

Re: “Bare Minimum

Where is that money going to come from? If it is just passed on to us, the consumer, you and me, it is just going to inflate the price of everything, and in the long run none of us are going to be better off. What is more important is the relative difference in wealth between the owners/executives/managers (highly paid) and the front line troops (low paid). It is a structural thing.

It's the relative difference that is important, not an absolute difference.

Unfortuantely, that is much harder to change. It requires a change in values, regulation, and tax policy. Not just a simple rule to bump up X to X+1.

see here for a great article:
Is Surging Inequality Endemic To Capitalism?
http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/book…

4 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Ed on 03/27/2014 at 11:37 AM

Re: “Bare Minimum

Always happy to see this kind of solid journalism coming from the Mercury. Dirk does an excellent job giving everyone a lay of the land here. I'm proud to be living here in Portland while this movement is taking off. We need an authentic and unified justice movement. Rather than having the enviros and labor folks and public health advocates and immigrant justice and advocates for the homeless working separately in their silos, we need to come together and speak for all of our issues with one voice. Nick Caleb has shown us that he can be that unifier and the $15 minimum wage is just one of many, many things that we can do to push ourselves closer to being the equitable and just city we claim to be. We have a long way to go, but there are passionate advocates coming out in droves. We will win this fight.

14 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Adam Brunelle on 03/27/2014 at 9:47 AM

Re: “Bare Minimum

Bravo to Socialist Alternative, SEIU, the Kshama Sawant campaign and to the Nick Caleb campaign for pushing for the $15 minimum wage. Corporate profits are obscenely high while more and more people are struggling just to survive. Other politicians claim to be raising the minimum wage issue, (except not in public, or when their challengers take a clear stand). Notice how Fish and Saltzman carefully avoid mentioning the actual amount for a minimum wage increase? Having conversations about a minimum wage is NOT the same as advocating for a $15 minimum wage. We need bold action, now. PS: Who wants to talk about cutting tax breaks for corporations?

12 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by S. Rose on 03/27/2014 at 7:52 AM

Re: “Bare Minimum

Senator Merkley may be espousing the old business-as-usual Democrat maxim:
"Politics is the art of the possible" but his campaign platform of $10.10 as a new
minimum wage for workers who've lost ground against Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)
despite workplace corporate productivity gains for 35 years simply will not cut it.
Not in a changing political world where $15.00 Now is the Socialist Alternative in practice.

As today's PORTLAND MERCURY feature article makes clear: $15.00 NOW
is what its going to take to rouse the electorate screwed over by ObamaNation
& the Larry Summers, Peter Orszag, Ben Bernanke, Timothy Geithner, Eric Holder,
Penny Pritzker (Corporate Welfare Queen named by Obama Secretary of Commerce!)
"reform team" we elected twice. Otherwise if Jeff & the Demos don't find any Republican oligarchs to lose to, they may find the electorate staying home or Protest Voting the Socialist Alternative that has already delivered for Sea-Tac municipal workers...
http://www.portlandmercury.com/portland/ba…

http://www.portlandmercury.com/BlogtownPDX…

Jeff is the most decent of the Dem lot left, but if he plays by the DNC playbook, he may be surprised. I'm sure gonna work hard to see that our newly-elected and see-no-evil, hear-no-evil congressional rep Suzanne Bonamici (the U.S. Dem Rep from NikeTown) is smoked out of the Wu bunker she's been holed up in since telling OPB's THINK OUT LOUD that she sees no Crony Capitalism in U.S. politics or the corporate world from her vantage point! After Tiger Tot Wu we elect 'reform candidate' Sgt Schultz from Hogan's Heroes!

Good to hear of those with paying jobs backing Senator Merkley.
I've been doing it for free and educating local voters as to why
Jeff Merkley offers hope for true financial reform since his first campaign.

I am 4 years out of my job as Consumer Advocate
in the Executive Office of Wells Fargo Card Services
first in Concord, CA then when Wells Fargo saw the tide turn
they moved our team up to "WORK AT WILL" state Oregon.

Within another 4 years of my 11 year tenure as Regulatory Complaint Case Worker
and commended as a Consumer Advocate who "well balanced the interests of our
most valued customers and the enterprise" in late 2009 as I turned 50 years old
I was let go by Wells Fargo, which took its federal bail-out money and with a wink & nod
from Treasury was allowed to acquire Wachovia Bank on the east coast, whose deposit
portfolio (reputedly bulked up for decades by narco-laundering of funds in Wachovia Miami)
was deemed suitable to protect the expected write-down in bad mortgage and brokerage paper.

And so Wells Fargo's only Consumer Advocate in the Consumer Lending Group of Kevin Rhein
(who first commended me in 2006 with a MISSION & VISION AWARD then let me go without any severance as I turned 50 and achieved all the benefits due to an 11 year veteran in the complaint trenches) the same Kevin Rhein, Wells Fargo's Chief of Consumer Lending Group, was photographed with newly elected 'reform' President Obama in the Oval Office. Why should I have been surprised when the Democratic Party under Bill Clinton's DNC that sold out federal regulators, sold out middle class workers, sold out the U.S. manufacturing base by removing tarrifs that were the only way in the history of Global Trade to protect
domestic markets that had been the envy of the world.

Yes, Bill Clinton balanced the budget (on the backs of the welfare mothers he joined Republicans in mocking) but he deepened the U.S. Trade Deficit with NAFTA as Obama will deepen it further with the secretive TPA\TPP.

And this 54 year old MISSION & VISION Award winner at Wells Fargo in 2006, let go in late 2009 has only found work in WORK AT WILL Oregon for minimum wage.

Thank you, ObamaNation & Jeff!
Thank you former Labor Lawyer & former Gov. Kulongoski for demanding a cost\benefit analysis on just how many more jobs migrated to Oregon thanks to Work-At-Will regs that allow employers to let any worker go without notice for no just cause (except for federal regs barring racism or age-ism and try proving that) and how long those companies that moved here actually kept those jobs before outsourcing them!

If the Senator has a paying job on his Team Merkley that pays more than the $9.10 per hour minimum wage I earned parking Senators Merkeley & Wyden's staff cars at Portland's World Trade Center, where the parking concession formerly owned by the Goodman Brothers of Portland was purchased via Private Equity by the Teachers Pension Fund of the Province of Ontario in Canada last year and yes the new Canadian owners have been even more willing to squeeze the minimum wage staff of City Center Parking (dba PMC new dba Imperial Parking Vancouver, BC Canada) to service the Private Equity debt and make sure the Canadian teachers who deserve good retirement benefits that U.S. educators and workers can only dream of, so that they can retire in even more luxury. have Team Merkley call me and I'll work for his proposed $10.10 per hour that will be paid to staff in town who service the Team Merkley staff!

Warmly (until I am evicted as my life savings dwindle)
Mitchito

5 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Laylow Studios Mitch on 03/27/2014 at 12:23 AM

Re: “Bare Minimum

$15 minimum wage??? Are you nuts?

1) Maybe in NYC that makes sense. No way in Portland.
2) I took out loans and went to college so I didn't have to work a minimum wage job the rest of my life. They can too.
3) It defies the laws of supply and demand. You know why those jobs pay like shit? Because they are easy and anyone can do them.
4) Have you ever run a business? You know how companies will handle this? This will raise a key component of their expense significantly. They can try to raise the price to make up for it. Maybe they can pass it on to consumers, maybe not (what the economists call price elasticity). Are customers going to pay $8+ for a fast food burger? If so, customers are paying for it. That's you and me, not the 1%. If they can't pass it on, it means employers have to cut their expenses in other ways - the main way being cutting staff.
5) Businesses have enough to worry about right now with the implementation of The Affordable Care Act and paid sick leave in Portland. Do we really want to hit them with something else right now?

P.S. I am all for higher taxes on the rich and I think high corporate CEO pay is a travesty.

11 likes, 21 dislikes
Posted by Ed on 03/26/2014 at 9:45 PM

Re: “Bare Minimum

@ Frankieb

Looks like you were the only one commenting here who wasn't holding a sign on the sidewalk downtown. I'm no economist and I'm all for people making a decent wage but I agree with your take on reality.

Not only is there inflation but there is also the purchasing power of your currency. People seem to have very short memories but in the recent past I could buy a gallon of gas for under two dollars, rent a house or an apartment for $300-400 less, get a good sandwich somewhere for under $8, and buy a couple bags of groceries for $20. Giving everybody a raise is great and all but from my own personal experience prices of goods and services appear to be inflating at a much more rapid rate than the wages for unskilled workers. I don't know how exactly to fix the problem other than focusing on a more robust economy that produces its own goods and services rather than sourcing everything from giant companies who import goods, export labor and hide their profits in off shore bank accounts. This whole feel good bullshit about raising the minimum wage is a placebo and a very temporary fix at best. I fail to see how it will have any appreciable lasting effect on the creation of more local economic activity. If anything it will merely drive the cost of basic necessities higher as retailers keep inflating their prices to compensate for their higher cost of doing business. I remember when the minimum wage was $4.15 an hour. The minimum wage is now higher than double that but people who make minimum wage are not living a higher quality of life. If anything it is probably worse.

10 likes, 15 dislikes
Posted by JRRTrollkien on 03/26/2014 at 8:14 PM

Re: “Bare Minimum

Seems foolhardy to me.
Of course, I'm all in favor of increasing the minimum wage, but to such a jump?
In the end, it's all relative, right? Relative to the cost of living.
There just happens to be that pesky thing called INFLATION, which would be bound to happen as these raises work there way up the food chain.
The worker slaving away at 15 now would certainly want a raise now that these less skilled folk are making the same as he is, and so on, and so on, up the ladder of pay.
This whole drastic approach seems to me more of a feel-good measure, rather than grounded in reality -- which makes me think Caleb is not yet ready for office.
The worst part is he is trying to get elected by filling the impoverished with false hopes.

12 likes, 14 dislikes
Posted by frankieb on 03/26/2014 at 6:09 PM

Re: “Bare Minimum

Nick Caleb -- Smart man, smart ideas, for a smart, ethical, and livable Portland. Vote Caleb!!

12 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by Chris Jackson on 03/26/2014 at 4:06 PM

Re: “Bare Minimum

We don't need to rely on fanciful free-market ideology to tell us what might happen if we raise the minimum wage. The subject has been studied extensively.

Economists at UC Berkeley conclude:
"Our studies show that the impact of these laws on workers’ wages (and access to health care) is strong and positive and that none of the dire predictions of employment loss have come to pass." (nyti.ms/1g1HnjN)

What's more, raising the minimum wage would very likely increase overall demand.

A study from the Center for Economic and Policy Research puts it this way:
"Since the minimum wage transfers income from employers (who generally have a high savings rate) to low-wage workers (who generally have a low savings rate), a minimum-wage rise could spur consumer spending." (bit.ly/IsoKwj)

17 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Jordan Karr-Morse on 03/26/2014 at 1:10 PM

Re: “Bare Minimum

Glad to see some good arguments in favor of the higher minimum wage from all corners in this article.
Too often, I see criticisms of a minimum wage hike on very vague theoretical grounds with no references to real-life results. Even conservative academics at this point know that our minimum wage (federal and state) isn't tracking cost of living and is bound to be out-of-date often. As Caleb says, there are creative ways to fight the prohibition on wage raises within the state--and if we add our voices to the growing national dissent, maybe state law can change in the near term.

19 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by Tori Cole on 03/26/2014 at 12:55 PM

Re: “Bare Minimum

If Seattle and Chicago can pay $15, so can Portland.
Of course, Saltzman and Fish pay lip service to the idea, but we all know what they do in City Council. Time to end the corruption! I'm voting for Caleb and a living wage for those who need it most!
https://www.facebook.com/caleb4councilpdx

22 likes, 8 dislikes
Posted by Cascadian Kram on 03/26/2014 at 12:16 PM

Re: “Bare Minimum

All of the opposition to $15/hr that I have heard has boiled down to ideology and thought-experiment -- some people's idea of "what must probably happen" if we do this. They make it sound like we'll be fighting in the streets over scraps of meat if we pay people enough to pay their rent & buy groceries.

Meanwhile, empirically, we see time and again that minimum wage increases are good for literally everybody. Paying the underpaid means that they're spending that money, which means increased revenues, which -- historically speaking -- has led to higher employment.

It's nice to finally see a candidate that's connected to reality!

22 likes, 9 dislikes
Posted by jessehadden on 03/26/2014 at 12:16 PM

Re: “Bare Minimum

Nicholas Caleb talks 15 Now, social and environmental justice, and police accountability: https://vimeo.com/89880650

14 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by George Hayduke on 03/26/2014 at 11:44 AM

Re: “Bare Minimum

I am unsure why some establishment economists would be concerned that we could create too much justice for workers by going to $15 an hour -- only $30,000 a year. With corporate profits and worker productivity both at record highs, does anybody seriously doubt Corporate America can afford to pay non-poverty, living wages? Part of the progressive poverty-wage-penalty-tax proposal could go toward small business subsidies to allow them to compete and pay their workers higher wages as well. We could raise small business exemptions for taxes at the same time. Supporting local workers can go hand-in-hand with supporting local small businesses.

39 likes, 9 dislikes
Posted by sethwoolley on 03/26/2014 at 11:03 AM

Re: “Bare Minimum

SUPPORT CALEB FOR COUNCIL: https://www.facebook.com/caleb4councilpdx

13 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by George Hayduke on 03/26/2014 at 11:02 AM

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