Moo Cluck Moo – the Right Thing to Doo

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Who says fast food joints can’t pay their workers more than the minimum wage and still make a decent profit?  Well, for starters, it’s the big fast food joints themselves and Republicans who say LET THE MARKET DECIDE.  DOWN WITH MINIMUM WAGE.  DOWN WITH REGULATIONS unless they benefit BIG business and billionaires.  Maximum profits over people is the message – that’s the capitalist way.  But it is possible to be a caring capitalist.  It is possible to give workers a living wage and still make a profit.  In fact, it can be good for business, perhaps even better for business.  Did you hear that BIG business?  Exhibit A:  Moo Cluck Moo.  I confess that until today, I had never heard of this place.  But this fast food restaurant does something remarkable:  they pay their workers TWICE the federal minimum wage.  The owner says they don’t pass on the costs to patrons.  Their burgers and sandwiches are competitively priced.  The other remarkable thing is that this restaurant serves up some of the healthiest foods in the fast food industry all with a social conscience.  Their beef, pork and poultry products come from farms that humanely raise vegetarian animals that are never fed hormones or antibiotics.  It may not make a big difference to you, but it is said that the vegetarian pigs roam free on the range.  And know that MOO CLUCK MOO uses NOO preservatives in their condiments and their vegetables are fresh and pesticide free.  For the sweet freaks, sodas are made with cane sugar, not high fructose corn syrup.  Cheers!

With only two locations in Michigan, their model may not be so persuasive to the big chains yet, but look out Micky Dee, Wendy and Mr. Burger King –  MOO CLUCK MOO is looking to expand and seeks investors.  Soon they may be located right next door to you wherever you are.  They say that paying their workers a living wage is the right thing to do.  And I quite agree and so would many others.

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GOP Rage Against Minimum Wage

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Who favors a federal minimum wage hike to $10.10/hour?  Oh, just 73% of Americans based on a recent Pew Research Center survey.  Who would be against one?  Not hard to guess.  Yes, those pesky Republicans blocked a new minimum wage bill.  A bill needs 60 votes in the Senate to even be discussed, but the minimum wage bill only received 42 affirmative votes, 41 Democrats and 1 Republican, Bob Corker of Tennessee whose state doesn’t even have a minimum wage law on the books.  The brave senators from Mississippi and Arkansas, whose states have a minimum wage below the federal minimum, did not vote at all.  The bill ultimately fell victim to a 53 vote Republican filibuster.  The Grand Old Party of NO said NO again and likely will continue to say NO to a raise for hard working Americans even as Congress, whose members average $174,000 a year, and whose median net worth is over a million dollars, is set to receive a 1.6% increase in 2015.

But why the hostility toward a minimum wage hike? First, Republicans argue that raising the minimum wage would force businesses to lay off workers as they would not be able to absorb the added labor costs.  As a result, they say unemployment would increase, businesses would shutter and the economy would collapse, even though there is no evidence to support such a claim.  Second, they argue the market, not the government, should set wages as a matter of principle.  Some are actually against the very concept of a minimum wage which they see as the big hand of government shouting orders.  Some of the poorest states in the union like Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee, states that have anti-union “right to work” laws in place, have no state minimum wage laws at all.  This simply means that in the absence of a federal minimum, they would leave the rates up to employers.  Georgia, another “right to work” state, has the lowest minimum wage at $5.15.  Companies still have the pay the federal rate of $7.25, unless they have fewer than 6 employees, or the work is seasonal or covers a training period, in which case they can pay the lower rate and very often do.

Interestingly, there is a considerable variance in the minimum wage paid state by state, from no minimum to $9.32 in the state of Washington.  10 states link their minimum wage to the consumer price index which typically produces a yearly increase.  20 states pay the federal minimum, 21 states including D.C. pay more than the federal minimum. 4 states have rates lower than the minimum and 5 southern states mentioned previously have no minimum wage rates whatsoever.  It’s not too surprising that red states resist federal measures because if they had it their way, they would secede from the Union – arguing that states’ rights (to exploit their own citizens) must prevail.

The proposed new federal rate is $10.10, which won’t make workers rich, but it will make it easier for folks to pay bills and support their families and it should inject more money into the economy.  When FDR championed the first minimum wage law during the depression years, it was to lift people out of poverty and to stimulate the economy.  Some 75 years later, the minimum wage has NOT increased enough to continue to meet its purpose.  A considerable number of working poor cannot make ends meet which never bodes well for the economy.  The Republicans argue that tax breaks are what is needed, not wage increases – tax breaks for the rich who don’t need them and to corporations, who are people thanks to Citizen’s United, who need them only to make MORE profit.  It’s time for the working poor to “profit” for a change.

West Virginia Chemical Spill

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West Virginia is one of the poorest states in the nation, just ahead of Arkansas and Mississippi, and is also one of the most hostile places to the environment.  Coal is king in West Virginia and the coal industry has made sure of that.  It is no surprise that the West Virginia congressional delegation has a dismal voting record on environmental issues.  In 2013, West Virginia Senator Machin, a coal man himself, had the worst voting record of any Democrat, by far, voting against legislation designed to combat climate change, to protect drinking water, to reduce toxic air pollution and green house gases.  Not surprisingly, he was for the Keystone XL Pipeline.  To be fair, fellow Democrat, Senator Rockefeller, had a much better voting record, voting for environmentally friendly legislation 85% of the time.  The West Virginia House delegation of three – two Republicans and one Democrat were downright hostile to mother earth, opposing bills to regulate toxic coal ash and fracking and shockingly did not support water safety measures; there’s some tragic irony there.

In January of 2014, a tank owned by Freedom Industries began leaking toxic mining chemicals into the Elk River, the drinking water supply near Charleston prompting the state to issue an emergency ban on tap water for drinking, cooking, bathing and cleaning.  The ban was recently lifted but the governor, according to an informative piece on the spill in the New Yorker by Evan Osnos, no one has complete confidence that the water is now safe to use.

West Virginians may be poor on the whole, but they aren’t stupid and in spite of their aversion to heavy-handed government, they do in fact want safe water to drink and clean air to breathe.  And speaking of clean air, despite fierce opposition from West Virginia lawmakers, the Supreme Court handed down a 6-2 decision that would compel coal plant operators in states like West Virginia to reduce their pollution, pollution that often makes its way to neighboring states.  In a bit of irony, as this is International Workers’ Day, the two dissenters – Justices Scalia and Thomas said the ruling was, as reported in the West Virginia Record, “possibly Marxist”.

Power to people and power to the environment!  Winning!!