The Watering Hole, Saturday, May 23rd, 2015: From One to Infinity?

Last night I was doing an extremely necessary cleanup of my emails, and was about to delete some recent ones from our local Republican NYS Assemblyman, when I decided to take a look to see what he was writing about. Here’s one of them:

Cuomo’s Undemocratic Minimum Wage Hike Will Kill Jobs

East Fishkill, NY – (5/7/15) – Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor (R,C,I – East Fishkill) issued a statement today criticizing Governor Cuomo’s decision to unilaterally move to raise the minimum wage for some businesses without legislative approval.

“Dictating new regulations outside the legislative process is a recklessly undemocratic decision by Governor Cuomo,” said Lalor. “We have a process for passing new laws and the governor has chosen to bypass it because he was only able to get part of his job-killing minimum wage through the legislature. It seems he’s taking a page from President Obama’s playbook and simply dictating new laws when he can’t do what he wants through the legislature. Impaneling a wage board gives Cuomo’s action a veneer of unbiased approval, but is there any doubt that the board will simply follow Cuomo’s directions? We know how closely Cuomo has controlled previous ‘independent’ commissions.”

Lalor added, “This isn’t just undemocratic, it’s a job killer. San Francisco’s recent minimum wage hike is pushing small businesses to the brink of closure. [emphasis mine] This will hurt minimum-wage earners when businesses that can’t afford the increase start cutting jobs. Studies have shown entry-level job opportunities decline with minimum wage increases. The governor can’t simply mandate a better economy. Small businesses are struggling with New York’s high taxes and never-ending regulations. New York’s economy is struggling because of those taxes and regulations. The only way for government to increase wages and opportunities is to cut taxes and regulations across the board. We need to open up opportunities for businesses to thrive and create jobs in New York.”

“It’s also inappropriate for the governor to target just one industry,” Lalor added. “Governor Cuomo says he wants to raise fast food wages because fast food CEOs are millionaires. But, many fast food restaurants operate as franchises. They’re small businesses. This isn’t just hitting big corporations, Governor Cuomo, this is hitting small businesses. Cuomo’s dictate is so vague, we don’t even know how far this will go. It’s up to his wage board to decide what jobs will be defined as within the ‘fast food industry’. Pizzeria and deli owners, among other small businesses, don’t know if they’ll be included. They might not even know that this regulation could affect them until it’s already passed, missing the chance to voice their opposition.”

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Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor, a former teacher at Our Lady of Lourdes in Poughkeepsie, is a Marine Corps veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and a frequent guest on the Fox News Channel…”

I started to search for any information regarding what problems have been caused by San Francisco’s recent minimum-wage raise. The Google brought up several articles referencing “a San Francisco newspaper says that some restaurants and grocery stores in Oakland’s Chinatown have closed…” Okay, that’s Oakland, which, as far as I know, is still a separate city across the bay from SF. And my search for even that one “San Francisco newspaper” story yielded nothing but references to it from right-wing sources, i.e., The American Spectator and World Net Daily. As you can see, Thomas Sowell of The American Spectator has apparently coined (or at least emphasized) a new buzzword for the right, “ruinous compassion” – don’t be surprised if you start hearing that phrase in conjunction with any minimim-wage-raise arguments.

I finally found one article from Yahoo! Finance titled “Minimum Wage Hike Closes San Francisco Bookstore.” Although I had seen other stories from 2011 on about several booksellers such as the Borders chain losing business or closing, none of those seemed to be as a result of minimum wage hikes; it’s been pretty much a given for several years now that any bookseller would be in tough competition with current technology, with which one can access any book one wants with a few clicks. However, even this particular bookstore in San Francisco isn’t exactly going out of business entirely:

“Borderland Books, which specializes in science fiction and horror, says it has withstood a host of challenges since it opened in 1997, including the rise of Amazon.com and e-books, a landlord who supposedly doubled their rent while dotcoms were first booming, and a deep recession that the owners say “hit us very hard.” A higher minimum wage, though, would take the business from being modestly profitable to being a money loser, the owner says. “Although all of us at Borderlands support the concept of a living wage in principal and we believe that it’s possible that the new law will be good for San Francisco — Borderlands Books as it exists is not a financially viable business if subject to that minimum wage.”

But according to the article:

“The blog post went on to say that the Borderlands café business will stay open and should have “no difficulty at all” with the new minimum wage because it will be able to raise prices as needed. The bookselling business is different, the blog post argued, because book prices are set by the publishers and clearly printed on the books.”

So, although the owner wasn’t making much of a profit anyway from selling books, he’s still going to do just fine with the cafe associated with his bookstore. The last paragraph of the article itself links to this survey of economists who are mostly supportive of minimum-wage raises.

Hmm…So why is this one bookstore being used as, it appears, the definitive argument against all minimum-wage hikes, and why does it sound like the Ronald Reagan “Cadillac-driving welfare queen”? And since when does ONE = ALL?

I think I’m going to have to write to Assemblyman Lalor about his research team – if he has one.

This is our (very late) Daily Open Thread–what’s on your mind?

Sunday Roast: San Francisco

I grew up just across the San Francisco bay, in a town called Alameda.  My dad was in the Navy, and he managed to allow us to live in one place for about seven years, by alternating being stationed on the base at Alameda and being stationed on the USS Coral Sea.  At that time, it was the longest time I’d lived anywhere in my life!

Watching this video, it made me remember how much I loved the Bay Area.  So much history, beautiful scenery, and amazing weather.  I remember watching from across the bay as half of the Transamerica Pyramid was built — the top half, obviously.  🙂

I left Alameda in 1989 — having moved back there as a married woman with one child, and another on the way — moving to Salem, Oregon just a few months before the Loma Prieta earthquake.  The only reason I had the TV on that afternoon was because of the World Series game between the A’s and the Giants.  Even though I’m not a baseball fan, I had to watch this particular series!

I walked out to the living room to see how they could possibly have such a quiet lead-in to the first game.  That’s when I saw raw footage of the Cypress freeway collapsed in on itself, and just stood there in shock.  I’d driven out of the Bay Area just a few months before, on the lower deck of that freeway, and I knew what that road was like at rush hour — packed.  The Portland news guy was narrating the raw footage, and I was going absolutely batshit, because he just didn’t understand that the Cypress was a double-decked structure.  A lot of people died on that freeway the day of the earthquake, but a mere fraction of the number that would have died, if not for the historic World Series starting that afternoon.

I haven’t been back there in over 25 years, but I’d love to visit San Francisco and the East Bay again.  I’d drive around the narrow streets of my old hometown, even though the base has been closed for many years, and the military housing I lived in is gone.  I noticed that the Myth Busters are making use of the old runways and my high school pool, so that’s pretty awesome.  Then I’d drive across the bridges, down Lombard Street, catch a cable car to China Town (if they’re still running), visit Coit Tower, where the ladies of the Officer’s Wives Club — led my my mom — hung a giant yellow ribbon, to welcome home my dad’s ship after the war, and I’d walk around Fisherman’s Wharf.  From what I could see on the video, it looks like they’ve spiffed up the piers and wharf area quite a bit.  Weird.  I liked it as it was.

Well, enjoy the video.  It brought back a lot of memories for me, as you can tell.

This is our daily open thread — What places do you miss?

Music Friday …On the Cheap

Most of the music I have listened to over the years has been performed by talented musicians toiling in relative obscurity because they wanted to stay true to their roots and passions. At the end of the day, bands and performers who dwell on the edges of success have to keep expenses down. The music business, like any business comes down to the fundamentals of revenues against expenses and the less mouths to feed the better. So if you are really going stretch a dollar, you do it in one of two ways: Have muli-instrumentalists in the band, or go it alone. Here are two examples of minimalist acts. One man band Jesse Fuller playing San Francisco Bay Blues on guitar, accompanying himself with harmonica, kazoo, and fotdella, an instrument he designed and built himself for percussion and bass. Below, Ron Thomason demonstrates the art on hamboning, first developed in the deep South by dirt poor sharecroppers who couldn’t afford instruments and later used in minstrel acts. It is use of the body as percussion.

Campaign Robocall or Phone Sex Hotline?

(The Young Turks have the phone call message.)

KCBS Local News for the San Francisco Area is reporting that voters have been receiving some unusual racy robocalls and are complaining about the messages being left on their answering machines.

The recorded phone message is being sent by a Republican candidate. Voters in Sonoma and Napa counties were surprised on Sunday afternoon to hear what sounded like a call from a sex hotline on their answering machines.

“Mike Thompson’s been a bad boy…” says a woman who sounds like a phone sex operator, calling on behalf of the campaign of Republican Zane Starkwolf. He’s running against Democratic Congressman Mike Thompson.

Not only is it weird, but it’s also illegal, according to Shaun Dakin who runs stoppoliticalcalls.org.

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