Process of raising minimum wage was as bad as the result
Let’s do some math regarding the recent hike in the state minimum wage. The number of Democrats elected to the state Senate: 33. The number of Republicans elected to the state Senate: 30. The number of senators who said they supported raising the minimum wage right away to $9 an hour: 32. A majority.
The percentage of New York voters who supported raising the minimum wage: 80 percent, a majority of whom wanted to raise it closer to $10 than to $9. Republican voters by two to one wanted a minimum-wage hike.
Then how did we come up with a minimum-wage hike of only $8 an hour this year? Sen. Jeff Klein and his IDC [Independent Democratic Conference] group. Five Democrats who gave power to the minority Republicans in order to make “democracy work” better.
How much more will low-income workers lose by delaying the minimum-wage hike to $9 an hour over three years and then no indexing? $1.2 billion, maybe more. Money that could have been used to feed their family, pay the landlord or utility company, or buy clothes. And tip workers were dropped. They now have to wait for the Labor Department to rule on a new wage order.
Republican senators wanted a sub-minimum wage for young workers. No one else did. So what did the other three men in the back room agree to: the first tax credit in the United States to subsidize employers — including Walmart, McDonald’s and Burger King — if they hire young workers at the minimum wage.
The cost to taxpayers: $20 million to $40 million a year — or more. No one really knows. But it creates incentives for employers to increase the number of low-wage jobs that it fills with teenagers paid exactly the minimum-wage rate.
This is not how democracy is supposed to work.
Mark A. Dunlea
The writer is executive director of the Hunger Action Network of New York State.
Questions remain with genetically modified foods
As much as 75 percent of our packaged, processed food ingredients have had their DNA altered for various reasons.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration maintains that it sees no safety concerns arising from genetically modified foods. As a result, for the last 15 years, food processors, seed companies and agricultural product makers have successfully avoided mandatory labeling of genetically modified ingredients found in thousands of supermarket food items.
Robin Shreeves, of the Mother Nature Network, points out that 60 other countries already have mandatory genetically modified labeling, including Europe, Japan and Brazil. Is the United States smarter than the rest of the world?
One shouldn’t obscure the benefits of genetically modified crops, but some legitimate questions still exist without satisfactory answers to these questions. What happens when genetically modified crops cross-breed with non-genetically modified crops? If pests develop resistance to genetically modified crops, will farmers need to apply greater amounts of toxic chemicals to keep the pests in check? Can any genetically modified crops wind up harming useful insects such as honey bees?
To satisfy those who want to know if a food product contains any genetically modified constituents, the food producing industry should voluntarily agree to labeling. If not, it may be forced to in the near future by the legal process.
Anti-tobacco folks should butt out regarding business
Re March 29 letter, “Keeping cigarettes out of sight should reduce use,” by Judy Rightmyer: I’m glad Ms. Rightmyer has so much time to make such assessments. Enough already!
If someone is going to smoke, they will get them [cigarettes]. Let’s just let the elite sit back and enjoy a cigar or pipe, etc.
These little mom-and-pop chains make it easier to buy everyday necessities. People won’t be happy until these places are forced to close because of lack of revenue.
While you’re at it, let’s hide Lotto tickets, alcohol, aches-and-pains pills, condoms, female products, etc. [They] can all lead to misuse.
It’s bad enough the government tells you how to live, eat, spend and save. Maybe she would like to see ads with big lollipops, plant a garden, and feed a child.
Get over it.
Roller skating shouldn’t be an X-rated activity
On March 24, my husband and I took our two children, ages 11 and 14, roller skating at a popular rink in Amsterdam. We went to the 1 to 3:30 p.m. session. There were dozens of small kids there, and two birthday parties going on.
As we were skating, I noticed that a Britney Spears and will.i.am song containing several curse words was playing. I was not expecting to hear a song like that, as we were in a family roller rink on a Sunday afternoon and not a nightclub.
I spoke to a member of the staff about this, who went and spoke to the DJ. I thought the matter was settled,. However, not 30 minutes later, another song by Nicki Minaj was played that contained racial slurs, specifically, the “n-word.” My husband then spoke to staff, whose reply was: “It’s requests day.”
I have a request of my own. I would request that anyone who is operating a business which is focused around children would take some time to make sure that their customers are not being exposed to vulgar language and racial slurs. Simple common sense and a screening of the music is all it would have taken to avoid the whole problem. This might also be a good way to keep your customers.
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