Sandy a poor excuse not to raise state’s minimum wage
Raising the state minimum wage has the support of 80 percent of voters, yet Gov. Cuomo and Senate Republicans continue to evade action.
A recent statewide survey of emergency food programs by the Hunger Action Network found that hunger continues to rise. There was a 7 percent increase in the number of people fed last year, on top of more than a 50 percent increase over the last four years.
Eighty percent of the programs cited low wages as a major cause of hunger. More than a third of the guests had a job. And the cupboards are increasingly bare: two-thirds of programs reported a drop in private and government donations.
Gov. Cuomo recently said that he was too busy with hurricane relief to call the Legislature back in December to deal with “complex” issues. Granted, the governor’s hoped-for pay hike for his senior staff and lawmakers appears dead. But there is nothing complex about raising the state minimum wage. Either the Senate approves the hike to $8.50 an hour already passed by the Assembly or it doesn’t.
Gov. Cuomo claims that it is more difficult to convince Senate Republicans to support a minimum wage hike than it was to secure passage of the far more controversial same-sex marriage proposal. Does anyone believe that? Hundreds of state businesses, including Costco and the state Retail Council, have stated their support for hiking the minimum wage. And Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos [didn’t reject the idea of] a minimum wage hike the last time it was brought up.
Senate Republicans often block actions on issues that would help the poor and hungry. They argue the solution to poverty is to get a job. Time for them to show they actually value work by increasing the value of work.
Forget about the minimum wage being a living wage; right now, it is a sub-poverty wage. When FDR first established the minimum wage, it was set at a level to lift a full-time worker with two dependents to the poverty level. To accomplish that today, the minimum wage would need to be $8.90 an hour, rather than the present $7.25.
Many people were tragically harmed by Sandy. But it is always the poor, the elderly and the disabled who are hardest hit by such disasters because they lack the resources to find alternative living arrangements. The media reported that many low-income workers slept at their job sites in the city during the storm because they knew they had no way of getting back to work if they went home. Low-income workers seldom get sick or personal days, so if they fail to show up, they don’t get paid.
Sandy also exposed the affordable housing crisis in New York City. Tens of thousands were trapped for weeks in high-rise public housing projects without heat or power. There are 40,000 newly homeless individuals. And the struggle to house those who lost their homes is further displacing the poor and homeless. Low wages greatly contribute to this housing crisis.
A minimum wage hike is long overdue. It is time for the governor and the Senate to provide some relief to low-income workers this holiday season.
Mark A. Dunlea
The writer is executive director of Hunger Action Network of New York State.
Women’s health often violated by contraception
Re Dec. 1 letter, Letter on contraception and teens played fast and loose with the facts”: The writer, a physician assistant with Planned Parenthood, claimed arguments against contraception contradict published science. She said be “objective [and make informed decisions about our] health and well being” — more propaganda for Planned Parenthood to make more money from your tax dollars.
According to Reuters, more U.S. teens, aged 13-18, are using oral contraceptives. We live in a culture that no longer sees babies as a blessing. Contraception has torn the connection between love, sex, marriage and babies. Contraception can be used as a eugenic tool.
Contraception consequences are sex outside of marriage, widespread sexual immorality, casual sex with multiple partners and increase of sexually transmitted diseases — which lead to unwanted pregnancy and single parenthood, abortion, divorce and social chaos.
There is a disregard for the psychological well-being of females by males. Sixty percent of poverty in the United States is accounted for by single women with children. Where are the men? Contraception gives them a free ticket.
We live in a culture that realizes it is bad to put chemicals in the air and water supply, but women are putting chemicals into their bodies day after day. There are all kinds of bad physical side effects from contraception. A woman who is using a chemical contraceptive is in a state of pseudo-pregnancy; her body thinks it’s pregnant. Look at the insert in any set of pills; the pill can cause blood clots, high blood pressure, heart disease, weight gain, migraines, depression, etc.
There was an attempt to find a contraceptive for males, as well as females, but you notice there is none; the reason is it was stopped because of a health issue.
Contraception is an insult to woman. Women’s lives have been shattered, destroyed and broken. Woman need to get back their equality and dignity, and realize the genius of their gift of womanhood.
Highly taxed residents vote with their feet
Eleven states have been demoted to a financial “death spiral” status. The worst — California, Illinois and New York, blue states all — have less than 50 percent of their populations working to support the rest of state residents, and huge debt as well. Note: Debt is taxes yet to be paid.
Government overall has overpromised and cannot possibly deliver. Some promises are more easily broken. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and welfare are among them. All are subject to federal and state law changes.
Others, like pension contracts with public employees, are hard to break, as California cities declaring bankruptcy are finding out. It would appear taxpayers are on the hook. That’s real estate, sales, income taxes and fees as well. California is presently considering a new “wealth tax.”
At the federal level, raising taxes on the rich is proposed as a solution. Britain tried it and revenue dropped. Over half the wealthy have left the country. California tried it and the wealthy are moving to other states.
It is an equally viable solution for New York residents as well.
Wallace J. Hughes
Too many hidden fees bleed 401(k) investors
A major untold scandal is the transition from pensions to 401(k) plans, a gold mine for Wall Street, managing $3 trillion in “defined contribution plans” and all the fees involved with those plans.
“An ordinary American household with two working adults will cough up almost $155,000 in 401(k) fees over a lifetime,” according to CNN Money. Arguing that investors can’t consistently beat the market, economist Burton Malkiel says that “a blindfolded monkey throwing darts at a newspaper’s financial pages could select a portfolio that would do just as well as one carefully selected by experts.”
The dreaded federal government might offer as competition the nonprofit management of 401(k) funds. At a minimum, absolute transparency should require disclosure of all 401(k) fees. Obviously Wall Street lobbyists are fighting to prevent transparency.
Why kill the cash cow when you can milk it for a lifetime?
Richard Moody Jr.
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