In last week’s edition of Musings I reported that the Holyoke City Council in Holyoke, MA decided to name the pine/spruce/evergreen tree outside City Hall the “Holiday Tree” much to the dismay of the citizenry. Well, the people have collectively spoken and the decision has been reversed. From now on the tree will be known as the Christmas Tree. Personally, I was looking forward to seeing it decorated for St. Paddy’s Day and the 4th of July.
The Business News in our local newspaper is located on the back page of the Sports Section and this report caught my eye. Here it is in its entirety.
STUDY: Wealth gap largest on record
There’s even more proof the rich are getting richer while everyone gets poorer.
In a new report, Pew Research Center said Wednesday that the gap between the nation’s wealthiest households and middle-low-income earners is the widest it has been since the government began collecting data 30 years ago.
Pew, which analyzed Federal Reserve data, said the median wealth of upper-income families was $639,400 in 2013. Middle-income households were worth $96,500, while low-income families were worth $9,300. Pew calculated wealth by adding a family’s assets, including homes, cars and businesses, and subtracted it from debts.”
Well let’s face it, only the uber-rich can afford to own multiple homes, or multiple cars, and not many lower-middle class folks own businesses, so to me this study is skewed. Still, doesn’t take a genius to see an increase in the number of needy families. Is raising the minimum wage the answer?
There’s been a debate of sorts going on at facebook. One side feels that more money in the pocket of low-income earners would help the economy because they’d be spending just about every paycheck on goods and services. The more money they have, the more money they spend and that’s good for the economy. The other side feels that when the minimum wage increases it will cause an increase in the cost of goods and services and therefore, raising minimum wage is a bad thing. They advocate a reduction in prices is the way to go, but other than the cost of a barrel of oil and therefore a gallon of gasoline, do you see much of a chance of that happening? It has also been suggested that the 1% (do moneygrubbing pro athletes fall into that group?) give up 1 or 2% of their treasure to take the burden off the backs of the rapidly disappearing middle-class. All I can say is this….
Back in 1968 in Massachusetts, minimum wage was $1.60 an hour. I was fortunate to get a job that paid $2.20 an hour before taxes. Staying with that employer and making my way through 3 different positions my income with cost of living increases and merit raises was about $6.00 an hour before taxes, which may not look like much now, but back then was looked upon as ‘movin’ on up.’ Back then loyalty to an employer and an employer to an employee was almost sacred. Nowadays? There doesn’t seem to be such an animal. As someone said during the debate, an employer can decide to fire you if you start costing him more than he wants to pay, when it just makes good business sense to hire someone to do your job at minimum wages, leaving the older worker to fend for himself. Plus, if the employer’s profits aren’t as high as he’d like them to be, he can easily outsource his company to a country with a lower business tax base and cheaper labor costs and the American worker is shit out of luck.
As of this writing, minimum wage in Massachusetts is $8.00 an hour….pretty good IF you have an 8 hour workday 5 days a week. Not so good if it’s 3 hours a day 3 days a week. But, saving for a rainy day or sending your kid to college can now be out of sight as is trying to attain the American Dream. So to all those college kids getting degrees in high paying careers I’d like to inform you that you’ll be starting at the bottom (if you can find a job in your field of choice) so don’t expect to be making $50,000 a year. At least your descendents will have the 24th century to look forward to.
By now everyone not living under a rock has heard about the Sony hack by North Korea as their response to the movie “The Interview”, a supposed comedy about trying to assassinate North Korea’s ‘leader’. Actually, Un has 6 titles but president isn’t one of them. That title belongs to his deceased grandfather–for eternity. He’s not Supreme Leader either….that’s his deceased father who remains Supreme Leader for eternity. No, Un gets to be Marshall of the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea, First Chairman of the National Defense Commission, First Secretary of the Worker’s Party, Chairman of the Party’s Central Military Commission, Member of the Presidium of the Party’s Political Bureau, and Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army. PHEW! I wonder if different hats come with the titles? Anyway, reports say that North Korea has threatened 9/11-type actions if the movie is shown and Sony (a Japanese company, by the way) has succumbed to the threats. According to the FBI, North Korea was behind the hacking but North Korea says nay, nay, it wasn’t us. They now want to conduct a joint US/North Korea investigation in order to prove they didn’t do it Expecting this arrangement will be rejected (thanks, but no thanks) they added that the US will face ‘gravest consequences’ if the joint investigation is rejected. I’ve got no problem with the long suffering North Korean people. I think they are the largest group ever to be afflicted with Stockholm Syndrome but hey, until the leadership starts improving the lives of their own people they can just keep whistling in the dark.
I’ll say one thing for Kim Jong-Il, little Kim’s father, at least he had a sense of humor when Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s feature “Team America: World Police” was released in theaters.
When i was a kid back in the Stone Age my favorite Christmas movie was “Miracle on 34th Street”, as I got older “It’s A Wonderful Life” became my favorite, but now that I’m just one year away from Medicare I’d have to say “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is the best Christmas movie ever. Being my age I know the best things in life can’t be bought with love nor money. They can’t be held in your arms or used at a store. Those best things are Peace and Goodwill. Here’s wishing you and yours all the Peace and Goodwill you can handle. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!
Thanks for reading musings From the Bench 12/22 Edition. Until next time.
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