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 You can’t amend a law that has been repealed.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 May 29, 2015 17:19 GMT

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. economy went into reverse in the first three months of this year as a severe winter and a widening trade deficit took a harsher toll than initially estimated.

The Commerce Department says the overall economy as measured by the gross domestic product contracted at an annual rate of 0.7 percent in the January-March period.

The revised figure, even weaker than the government's initial estimate of a 0.2 percent growth rate, reflects a bigger trade gap and slower consumer spending.

It marked the first decline since a 2.1 percent contraction in the first three months of 2014, a slump that was also blamed on winter weather.

Economists expect a rebound in the current quarter to growth of around 2 percent and expect the economy to strengthen later this year.

CONSUMER SENTIMENT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A weak U.S. economy pulled down consumer sentiment in May.

The University of Michigan says its index of consumer sentiment fell to 90.7 from 95.9 in April. The May reading was the lowest since November.

Consumers of all ages and income levels were gloomier this month. And they were less confident both about current economic conditions and the future.

Still, Richard Curtin, chief economist of the surveys, noted that the index has averaged 94.6 the first five months of 2015, highest since 2004.

The Commerce Department reported Friday that the U.S. economy fell at a 0.7 percent annual pace the first three months of the year, hurt by severe winter weather and a widening trade deficit.

UNITED STATES-CUBA

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. has taken Cuba off its list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Secretary of State John Kerry has signed an order removing Cuba from the U.S. terrorism blacklist as part of the process of normalizing relations between the Cold War foes.

Kerry acted 45 days after the Obama administration informed Congress of its intent to do so. Lawmakers had that much time to weigh in and try to block the move, but did not do so.

The step comes as officials from the countries continue to hash out details of restoring full diplomatic relations, including opening embassies in Washington and Havana and returning ambassadors to the two countries. Friday's removal of Cuba from the terrorism list had been a key Cuban demand.

GERMANY-G7-FINANCE

DRESDEN, Germany (AP) -- Finance ministers from the Group of Seven wealthy democracies heard a sharp call from U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew to find agreement on more financial help for Greece.

Lew said that a further delay in Europe's six-month old talks with Greece was "courting an accident" -- such as a Greek default or messy exit from the euro, which could have unpredictable effects on the global and European economies.

Lew said Friday at the end of meetings in Dresden, Germany: "Too much time has been spent unproductively." The ministers at the meeting officially discussed more long-term projects such as making sure multinational companies pay all their taxes, but Greece overshadowed the talks.

Lew said "the challenge is to treat this week as a week in which there has to be progress."

BRITAIN-EU

BERLIN (AP) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel has sounded a conciliatory note on Britain's efforts to renegotiate its relationship with the European Union, saying "when there is a desire there should be a way."

British Prime Minister David Cameron is making a whirlwind tour around Europe to press his case for concessions on the terms of Britain's membership in the EU. He met with Merkel in Berlin on Friday after a morning meeting with Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz.

Merkel said after the talks that it would be in Germany's interest to see some changes and that her country would negotiate in a "supportive and constructive way."

Germany has a "clear cut hope" that Britain will remain a member of the EU, Merkel added.

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The decision released this week explains last week's ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that requires the Dublin-based company to keep distributing Namenda until 30 days after its patent expires on July 11.

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The American Council of Employees was formed after the UAW narrowly lost that vote. A group called Southern Momentum organized opposition to unionization at the Chattanooga plant.

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Moss says that many of the workers who supported Southern Momentum opposed any sort of organized labor, while ACE backs Volkswagen's desire to create a German-style works council at the plant.

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CARTERSVILLE, Ga. (AP) -- An Anheuser Busch plant in northwest Georgia has started canning water instead of beer to help flood victims in Texas and Oklahoma.

Multiple media outlets report the Cartersville plant halted its beer production to produce 50,000 cans of water to distribute to the flooded areas by this weekend.

Cartersville brewery manager Rob Haas told NBC News the brewery has participated in similar initiatives in the past, including during the Northeast's recovery from Superstorm Sandy.

The brewery even has a special white can that it uses for the water.

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