Monday, June 26, 2006


Around the blogs in 80 clicks

When Lou Dobbs is to the left of many Democratic senators, you know that the Democratic Party is in trouble (via Nathan Newman): Raising the minimum wage to $7.50 would positively affect the lives of more than 8 million workers, including an estimated 760,000 single mothers and 1.8 million parents with children under 18. But even this 46 percent increase would get them only to the poverty line. Don't you think these families just might need that cost-of-living increase a bit more than our elected officials who are paid nearly $170,000 a year? With no Congressional action on raising the minimum wage since 1997, inflation has eroded wages. The minimum wage in the 21st century is $2 lower in real dollars than it was four decades ago and now stands at its lowest level since 1955, according to the Economic Policy Institute and Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Also, since the last time Congress increased the minimum wage for our lowest-paid workers, buying power has fallen by 25 percent. Yet over that time our elected representatives have given themselves eight pay raises totaling more than 23 percent. Raising the minimum wage isn't simply about the price of labor. It's also about our respect for labor. One of this country's greatest business innovators, Henry Ford, made history almost a century ago by raising the salaries of his production-line workers far beyond the prevailing wage. Ford not only paid his employees well enough to buy the products they built, but he kept his employees loyal and productive. That's also very good business. The myth that raising the minimum wage will lead to job cuts is just that: a myth. In fact, research suggests just the opposite. Via Crooked Timber, we learn of a study showing that the society is fragmenting: The number of people saying there is no one with whom they discuss important matters nearly tripled. The mean network size decreases by about a third (one confidant), from 2.94 in 1985 to 2.08 in 2004. The modal respondent now reports having no confidant; the modal respondent in 1985 had three confidants. TPMuck quotes a retired FBI agent to the effect the Miami terror case may be in serious trouble: Mike German spent 16 years in the FBI; for over a decade, he went undercover to bust up domestic terrorist groups around the country. I called him to get his opinion on the "Seas of David" case. He wouldn't discuss the specifics of the case, but it's clear he's got some concerns about it."Cases like these generally hinge on who reached out to who first," German told me...The rule of thumb for an undercover investigation like this, German said, was: "You don't want your operative to be the worst guy in the room." If the FBI's informant was the only guy professing any al Qaeda connection. . . that's tough. Agents rarely speak out in this way. Via TPMuck, Rawstory says that Murtha has got a Swiftboat roachpack after him. The hero in this story is Sean Paul Kelley, who picked up the plot and got some light turned on the roaches. And Kos diarist cynic gets kudos, too. A worthy effort to join, if you can donate some research time. Don't miss Tom Tomorrow's take on David Brooks
Glad to see Lou Dobbs is backing raising the minimum wage. The last time I heard about him, he was spewing racist garbage about Mexican immigrants.

The thing is that if we really wanted to put a dent in illegal immigration, we'd do the following:

1) Raise the minimum wage as Dobbs urges. When Americans can raise families and pay mortgages on the wages we pay to roofers and hotel maids and service workers (and unions like the SEIU are leading the way in making this happen), then there's a lot more incentive for them to take those jobs.

2) End the Bush Administration policy of letting employers get away scot-free with hiring illegal immigrants and/or paying less than the minimum wage. When employers know that the stiff penalties for employing illegals and/or paying less than the minimum wage are actually going to be enforced, then there's a lot more incentive for them to pay living wages and hire legal residents.
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