Minimum wage and trust issues

Updated: Thursday, June 5, 2014
Minimum wage and trust issues story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - There were congratulations all around last week when the Michigan Senate, in an astonishing display of speed and bi-partisanship, passed a new minimum wage law.

Under the law, the minimum wage in Michigan will rise from the $7.40 it is now to $9.25 over the next four years.

Tonight in Tom’s Corner, Tom Van Howe says--all the celebrating aside--as the old saying goes, there are two things you really don’t want to see being made: sausage and legislation.

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Excuse me for not joining the victory dance.

Its not so much that I don’t trust lawmakers--and I don’t.

It’s because I know this law is another example of how our lawmakers don’t trust you and me.

Most of you know what happened. But let me briefly explain anyway:

Our people in Washington were talking about a minimum wage hike--but with a million lobbyists saying it was better to keep people in poverty, that effort landed with a thud.

So, in Michigan, a grassroots petition drive began to amend the law to raise the minimum wage to $10.10.

There were some problems with it. Waiters and waitresses were included and that would have been a problem with our system of tipping for service.

But, nonetheless, it largely echoed what 70 percent of us thought anyway: it was time for a wage hike.

The petitions were signed by 320,000 people, and it seemed certain that the question would make it’s way to the November ballot where passage would be virtually assured.

But our Republican lawmakers were bothered by this. Not only would the law enrage some business owners and some wealthy backers, having an issue on the ballot that might rally Democratic voters just can’t be a good idea.

Its messy. Things might get out of hand.

So up jumps Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville--Republicans have a majority in both houses so it ought not be necessary to point out Richardville is a Republican--with an idea.

No sense in risking anything with another pesky voter-driven effort; let's repeal the minimum wage law and replace it with a new one that falls short of what the voters might approve of. That way the petition, which seeks to amend the wage law, would be irrelevant, null and void, as cold and tasteless as a week old cup of coffee. You can’t amend a law that has been repealed.

And you know how long it took to get all that done? And did I mention that Democrats joined in, to make the repeal and replacement a bipartisan effort?

It took one day. I mean, there had to have been some groundwork that took a few hours, but when push came to shove--one day!

Remarkable what can be accomplished when you don’t trust voters and have to move fast.

Now the petition people are upset and say they may take their case to court...and I hope they do.

We’ll have to wait and see.

Republicans, meantime, are claiming victory. So are Democrats. So is the Governor who signed it into law almost immediately.

And that’s all fine. The only people left out in the cold are the people who pushed the envelope with a petition drive in the first place.

They get part of what they wanted, but their victory is about as exciting as twin beds.

Politicians here, there, and everywhere urge us to trust them. And then spend millions, even billions of dollars to convince us to vote for them.

It can only mean they don’t trust us, left to our own devices, to do the right thing.

In this corner...I’m Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on September 02, 2014 07:31 GMT

EURO

LONDON (AP) -- The euro has fallen to a near one-year low against the dollar in the wake of soft European economic data and uncertainty over the crisis in Ukraine.

Europe's single currency fell to a low of $1.3119 after a survey Monday showed that the manufacturing sector across the 18-nation eurozone lost momentum in August. The euro hasn't been lower since early September of last year.

The main reason behind the euro's recent weakness has been a growing expectation that the European Central Bank may be considering a monetary stimulus to boost the ailing eurozone economy. In the second quarter, growth in the eurozone ground to a halt.

The crisis in Ukraine has also hobbled the eurozone's economic outlook. Uncertainty over how the conflict will turn out has made businesses hesitant to invest.

EUROPE-ECONOMIC RECOVERY

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- Europe's economic recovery is in danger. Governments are under pressure to save it, but they are also struggling with political obstacles and disagreement among themselves over what to do.

Instead, the region is pinning its hopes -- once again -- on the European Central Bank, which is expected to launch new stimulus measures if the economy gets any worse.

Europe's lack of growth is looming larger and larger, however, and the ECB says it can't save the economy alone.

For more than five years since the eurozone hit turbulence over too much debt in 2009, governments' answer has been to raise taxes and restrain spending. And there's been some progress. Deficits have shrunk, and countries that needed bailout loans are slowly getting their act together.

But second quarter growth was zero, after only four quarters of measly expansion

CHINA-FOREIGN BUSINESS

BEIJING (AP) -- An American business group warns that foreign companies in China feel increasingly targeted for unfair enforcement of anti-monopoly and other laws and says investment might decline if conditions fail to improve.

The American Chamber of Commerce's report adds to mounting complaints about a flurry of investigations of global automakers, technology suppliers and other companies in recent months. Some foreign managers say Chinese authorities appear to be trying to hamper them and shield domestic rivals from competition.

The American Chamber of Commerce in China says almost half of companies responding to a survey "believe that foreign companies are being targeted." It said the risk was increasing that China "will permanently lose its luster as a desirable investment destination."

Uncertainty over regulatory investigations adds to challenges for foreign companies at a time when China's growth is slowing and they face more competition from ambitious local rivals.

OBAMA-ECONOMY

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- President Barack Obama is touting signs of a continuing emergence from the Great Recession, telling people in Milwaukee the nation's business engines, quote, "a revving a little louder."

The president has used a Labor Day address to put on a new push for increasing the federal minimum wage. Thirteen states have acted on their own to raise their minimum wages.

Until now, Obama and his White House aides had been reluctant to draw too much attention to positive economic trends, worried that some might not be real.

But in Milwaukee, he dared to say, in his words, "We're on a streak."

White House still insist that they are not yet declaring full victory over the lingering effects of a recession that officially ended five years ago.

FAST-FOOD PROTESTS

NEW YORK (AP) -- McDonald's, Wendy's and other fast-food restaurants are expected to be targeted with acts of civil disobedience that could lead to arrests Thursday as labor organizers escalate their campaign to unionize the industry's workers.

Kendall Fells, an organizing director for Fast Food Forward, said workers in a couple of dozen cities were trained to peacefully engage in civil disobedience ahead of this week's planned protests.

Fells declined to specify what is in store for the protests in roughly 150 U.S. cities. But workers recently cited sit-ins as an example of tactics they could use to intensify their push.

The "Fight for $15" campaign is being backed by the Service Employees International Union.

The National Restaurant Association called the protests attempts by labor groups "to boost their dwindling membership."

WEALTH GAP-DIET

CHICAGO (AP) -- A new study says Americans' eating habits have improved -- except among the poor.

Those results show a widening wealth gap when it comes to diet. Yet even among wealthier adults, food choices remain far from ideal.

The 12-year study used an index of healthy eating where a perfect score is 110. U.S. adults averaged just 40 points in 1999, and that climbed to 47 points in 2010. Scores for low-income adults were lower than the average and barely budged during the years studied.

Higher scores mean greater intake of heart-healthy foods including vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats. Low scores mean less of those foods and a greater chance for diet-related illnesses including diabetes, heart problems and obesity.

The study was published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine.

TOYOTA-US HEADQUARTERS

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- North Carolina business recruiters offered Toyota more than $100 million for the world's largest carmaker to move its North American headquarters to Charlotte rather than a Dallas suburb but still lost out to a Texas offer half that size.

Texas and local officials in the Dallas suburb of Plano offered Toyota less than $50 million.

Both Toyota and North Carolina Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker agree that the company's decision shows incentive money was just one of many considerations the company considered when deciding to move from the Los Angeles area.

North Carolina recruiting documents and emails released last week after a public records request show only about a quarter of the people filling nearly 3,000 jobs were expected to move from Southern California. The pay for those jobs averages $105,000 a year.

REVEL CLOSING

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) -- The most spectacular and costly failure in Atlantic City's 36-year history of casino gambling has begun to play out as $2.4 billion Revel Casino Hotel empties its hotel.

The casino is scheduled to close Tuesday.

Revel is shutting down a little over two years after opening with high hopes of revitalizing Atlantic City's struggling gambling market.

But the business has been mired in its second bankruptcy in as many years, Revel has been unable to find anyone willing to buy the property and keep it open as a casino.

Analysts and competitors say Revel was hampered by business decisions including a total smoking ban, the lack of a buffet and daily bus trips to and from the casino, and the lack of a players' database from which to solicit customers.

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