Raising the minimum wage

Updated: Friday, February 21, 2014
Raising the minimum wage story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The White House effort to raise the minimum wage nearly three dollars-an-hour over the next two years has drawn huge criticism from the right.

But our Tom Van Howe, who tonight is back in his corner, says once you get past the rhetoric, a wage hike for some of our poorest people is an idea that’s long overdue.

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Are there problems with this new wage proposal? Sure. There are with any new law.

But getting straight to the heart of the matter: getting by--assuming you’re working full-time--on less than $15,000 a year is no picnic. This proposed wage hike would put a substantial amount of cash--something like $100 a week--in the pockets of more than 16 million workers.

It would move roughly a million people out of poverty.

And guess what those workers will do with that extra money? They’ll spend it. They’ll pump billions of new dollars back in to local markets.

One writer for a national magazine says those billions don’t mean that much in our $17-trillion dollar economy; that it’s hardly worth the effort.

He’s missing the point.

It would mean working people, young and old, would get a 30 percent wage increase. These are working people. These are not people on the dole. We’re not talking about handouts or welfare fraud.

And while twenty grand a year is hardly the American dream, it’s a step toward dignity...Toward a tiny bit of breathing room.

Republicans are citing a Congressional Budget Office report that says a wage increase will cost us a million jobs.

Well, that’s not quite what it said. The CBO report  was vague  and said the hike could cause the loss of somewhere between none and a million jobs. Many economists are leaning toward the White House  view that job loss will be at the low end of the spectrum.

Some job loss is probably inevitable. It’ll push some employers to cut back, others to accelerate automation. But that’ll happen eventually anyway.

And before you absorb all the anti-wage hike rhetoric, take a closer look at the growing disparity between the people we’re talking about here and the incredibly rich.

  • Even at $10.10 an hour, the U.S. minimum wage will be lower after adjustments for inflation that it was in 1975.

  • The 85 richest people on earth have the same amount of wealth as the lower half of the world’s population.

  • Those 85 people are just a handful of the richest one percent who have 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the population. Sixty-five times!

  • American corporations have more than $2 trillion tucked away in off-shore and foreign banks to avoid the reach of the IRS. Actually, its probably more than that. We don’t know for sure.

  • In this country, since the start of the recovery four years ago, 95 percent of the gains have gone to the top 1 percent. No trickle down. They got two great tax cuts in the last decade, but nothing trickled down.

  • CEO's are still taking home 300 times the earnings of the average worker.

So can someone please give me a convincing argument that those who struggle most don’t  deserve $2.85 an hour more than they’re getting now?

In this corner...I’m Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on March 06, 2015 18:16 GMT

TRADE GAP

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. trade deficit in January dropped sharply as both exports and imports fell.

The Commerce Department says the deficit fell 8.3 percent to $41.8 billion in January, down from $45.6 billion in December. The shrinking trade gap reflected a drop in exports, which fell $5.6 billion to $189.4 billion. Imports fell $9.4 billion to $231.1 billion.

Much of the dip in imports likely came from lower oil prices and a labor dispute that disrupted shipping at West Coast ports. At the same time, the strong dollar that has made American-made goods less affordable abroad is weighing down exports.

Economists expect the deficit to widen further in 2015 as stable growth in the United States drives imports and tepid growth overseas paired with a strong dollar depress exports.

US-APPLE-DOW

Apple to replace AT&T in Dow

NEW YROK (AP) -- Apple is replacing AT&T in the Dow Jones industrial average after the close of trading on Wednesday, March 18.

The switch will take effect at the opening of trading on Thursday, March 19, says S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC. The change was prompted by a 4-for-1 stock split for Dow-member Visa.

S&P Dow Jones Indices says the post-split adjusted lower price of Visa will reduce its weighting in the information technology sector of the index. Adding Apple will help to partially offset this reduction. In price-weighted indices such as the Dow, a large change in price in a stock can have a material impact on sector representation in the index. This index change is designed to minimize that impact.

NISSAN-HOOD LATCH RECALL

DETROIT (AP) -- Nissan is recalling 625,000 more cars in the U.S. as part of a growing problem with faulty latches that can allow hoods to fly open while cars are moving.

The latest recall covers Altima midsize cars from the 2013 through 2015 model years. It brings the total number of vehicles recalled for the problem to nearly 1.1 million.

Nissan says in government documents that if the main hood latch isn't fastened, the secondary latch may not hold the hood closed as designed.

Nissan previously recalled 238,000 Altimas from 2013 for the same problem, as well as 216,000 Nissan Pathfinders from 2013 and 2014, Infiniti JX35s from 2013 and QX60s from 2014.

The company says it's still investigating and could recall more vehicles.

Nissan hasn't finalized a fix for the problem.

HYUNDAI RECALL

DETROIT (AP) -- Hyundai is recalling more than 26,000 Genesis luxury cars in the U.S. and Canada to fix a water leak that can cause the transmission gear shifter to malfunction.

The recall covers cars from the 2015 model year. Water can leak into the rear light assembly. In rare cases that can cause delays in gear shifting or display the wrong gear on the instrument panel. The gear selector is connected electrically to the rear lights.

Hyundai says in government documents that the incorrect gear can increase the risk of the cars moving unexpectedly and causing a crash. It was unclear if there have been any crashes.

Dealers will install pads to stop the water leak at no cost to the owners. Hyundai will notify owners starting in April.

DAIMLER-SPRINTER VANS

LADSON, S.C. (AP) -- Daimler AG says it will spend about $500 million and create 1,300 jobs with a new plant near Charleston that will build its Sprinter vans.

The company issued a news release Friday morning. It is making the formal announcement at the existing plant in Ladson, which is about 30 miles from Charleston.

Currently, the Ladson plant assembles vans under the Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner brands from parts made overseas and shipped to this country in kits.

Construction on the new plant is supposed to start in 2016.

RIGHT TO WORK-WISCONSIN

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin's Republican-controlled state Assembly has voted to make their state the 25th with a right-to-work law, sending the union-restricting measure to Gov. Scott Walker for his promised signature.

The Assembly voted 62-35 in favor of the bill Friday morning after about 20 hours of debate. No Democrats voted for the measure.

Walker, a likely Republican presidential candidate who rose to national prominence by taking on public-sector unions, plans to sign it into law on Monday. Republicans who control the state Senate passed the measure last week.

The bill would prohibit businesses and unions from reaching deals requiring all workers to pay union dues.

Supporters say right-to-work laws give workers more freedom. Opponents counter that they drive down wages and create unsafe workplaces.

Twenty-four other states have passed similar laws.

EGYPT-GAS DEAL

CAIRO (AP) -- The U.K.-based energy company BP has signed agreements worth $12 billion to develop a major gas field in Egypt, which has been trying to attract foreign investment after four years of unrest.

BP said in a statement Friday that the investment is "a vote of confidence in Egypt's investment climate."

The West Nile Delta project aims to produce 5 trillion cubic feet of gas and 55 million barrels of condensate. Production is expected to begin in 2017 and reach up to 1.2 billion cubic feet a day, or about 25 percent of Egypt's current production.

BP Group Chief Executive Bob Dudley says the project is his company's "largest foreign direct investment in Egypt."

The announcement comes days ahead of a major economic conference aimed at boosting foreign investment.

OIL TRAIN DERAILMENT-ILLINOIS

BNSF: 21 cars derailed, fire still burns; accident involved improved tank cars

GALENA, Ill. (AP) -- BNSF Railway now says a total of 21 cars derailed in an accident involving an oil train in western Illinois, and that a resulting fire continues to burn.

No injuries have been reported from the Thursday derailment, which occurred in a rural area south of the city of Galena.

In an update Friday morning, the company said a total of 21 cars left the tracks. A company spokesman initially said six cars had derailed.

The company also says a resulting fire is believed to have spread to five rail cars and continues to burn. The company says emergency personnel are trying to contain the fire, and that BNSF is taking steps to protect nearby waterways.

Company officials say the accident involved tank cars that already meet a higher safety standard than what federal law requires.

The company says the train's tank cars were a newer model known as the 1232. That model was designed during safety upgrades voluntarily adopted by the industry four years ago. The improvements were meant to prevent cars from rupturing in the event of derailments.

GENERIC BIOTECH-FDA

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal health officials say they approved the first lower-cost copy of a biotech drug, a long-awaited milestone that could generate billions in savings for insurers, doctors and patients.

The Food and Drug Administration says it approved Novartis' version of the blockbuster drug Neupogen, which is used to boost blood cells in cancer patients and had $839 million in U.S. sales last year.

Biotech drugs are powerful, injected medicines produced in living cells. They typically cost much more than traditional, chemical-based drugs.

Biotech drugs have never faced generic competition in the United States because the FDA did not have a system to approve copies of such medications. That changed in 2012 when the FDA laid out a regulatory pathway to approve the drugs, known as "biosimilars."

FDA-TOBACCO-LAWSUIT

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- The Food and Drug Administration says four members from its tobacco advisory panel, among them its chairman, have left after a court ruled some of its members had conflicts of interest.

The agency said late Thursday that the members were rescreened after the ruling and either resigned or were taken off the panel tasked with advising it on tobacco-related issues.

Those no longer on the panel include Dr. Jonathan Samet, who served as chairman. He's the director of the University of Southern California's Institute for Global Health.

In July, a federal judge in Washington ordered the agency to reconstitute the panel and barred it from using its 2011 report on menthol cigarettes.

Cigarette makers Lorillard Inc. and Reynolds American Inc. sued the agency in 2011, alleging conflicts of interest and bias by several members.

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