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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.


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 You can’t amend a law that has been repealed.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 October 09, 2015 17:12 GMT


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Cheaper oil and less demand for autos and machinery weighed on wholesalers in August, as their inventories edged up just slightly while sales dropped.

The Commerce Department said today that wholesale stockpiles rose 0.1 percent, and sales fell 1 percent. Sales have slid 4.7 percent over the past 12 months. Inventories have increased 4.1 percent.

Falling oil prices account for much of the declining sales.

Oil inventories -- which are measured in dollars -- plummeted 4.6 percent in August and 36.6 percent over the past 12 months. Sales of autos and machinery also slipped. But rising inventories for equipment, pharmaceuticals and chemicals suggest that wholesalers still see ongoing demand heading into end of the year.

Wholesale inventories are at a seasonally adjusted $583.9 billion, 4.1 percent above a year ago.

Sales weakened as the broader economy began to cool in August, hampered in large part by the risks of a worldwide deceleration in economic activity.


NEW YORK (AP) -- A voting member of the Federal Reserve's policy committee says that he still thinks an interest-rate increase will be appropriate by year's end. But he acknowledges that the outlook for the economy appears cloudier than it did a few weeks ago.

Dennis Lockhart, president of the Fed's Atlanta regional bank, noted that the most recent economic figures have sent mixed signals, with higher risks than he had earlier forecast. Notably, the government said last week that employers cut back sharply on hiring in September and added fewer jobs in July and August than previously thought.

Lockhart said he will closely review consumer activity before deciding how to vote on whether to raise rates at one of the Fed's two final meetings of 2015.

For now, he said, he thinks the economy's progress remains "satisfactory."

Lockhart made his remarks to the annual meeting of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers in New York.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- The head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York says that a Fed rate hike remains likely this year but that a final decision will depend on how the economy performs.

In an interview with CNBC, William Dudley says he expects solid U.S. economic growth to offset weakness overseas, which is hurting U.S. exports. But he says the economy will need to further improve for the Fed to raise rates from record lows.

The Fed's final two meetings of 2015 will be later this month and in December. Though Dudley says a rate hike could theoretically occur at any meeting, his comments seemed to favor December over October.

Some economists still think the Fed will delay a hike until 2016 because of pressures from overseas and excessively low inflation.


NEW YORK (AP) -- Wal-Mart has named Brett Biggs, an executive in its international division, as its next chief financial officer.

Biggs will take over on Dec. 31, though Charles Holley, who is retiring, will remain with Wal-Mart for a month to help with the transition.

Biggs has been CFO and executive vice president of Wal-Mart's international business since 2014. He has played a number of roles at Wal-Mart since joining the company in 2000.

Holley has been CFO for nearly five years and has been with the company for more than two decades.

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, is trying to boost sales. It has increased spending on its online operations to compete with and other online retailers, and it is trying to improve its selection and customer service at stores.

Washington Times