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Sandy a poor excuse not to raise state’s minimum wage

Thursday, December 6, 2012
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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

Albany

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.

Joanne Clough

Guilderland

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

Charlton

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.

Schoharie

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comments

December 6, 2012
7:26 a.m.
justapto says...

Joanne Clough: you say "Sixty percent of poverty of poverty in the United States is accounted for by single women with childern" and "Contraception gives them a free ticket" ---
Doesen't contraception prevent these same women from having unwanted children in the first place?
Admit it; you are another fringe radical religious radical right who wants to push your personal beliefs on the rest of us. Your distorted analogies don't impress the rest of the free democratic country. You wish to have 25 kids and not use contraception; Go Right ahead. You have the freedom to decide.
If we allow one religious doctrine to intertwine with the US Constitution; I choose 'On Walden Pond'
As the author stated; "The best government is No government".

December 6, 2012
10:21 p.m.
J.D. says...

Justapo, how about some science instead of personal attacks? 41% of babies ARE born to unmarried women. According to the Alan Guttmacher Inst. (Planned Parenthood's own research arm) 54% of women seeking abortions were using contraception at the time. According to Marie Stopes Intl. (Britain's abortion provider) 70% of women seeking abortions in 2007 were using contraception at the time. In fact 21% were using two or more methods.

Planned Parenthood does not care about women's health. They care about women having sex. Read "Sexual Sabotage" by Dr. Judith Reisman, or "You're Teaching My Child What?" by Dr. Miriam Grossman. And while you're at it, take a look at Planned Parenthood's website to see if they cite all of their scientific info. They don't.

December 6, 2012
10:26 p.m.
J.D. says...

Google Planned Parenthood's "Healthy, Happy, and Hot" brochure where they talk about countries who require HIV+ youth (as young as 10) to disclose their HIV status to their sexual partners are violating the rights of the HIV youth. According to the CDC, at best, the condom can offer only 80% protection against HIV with highly motivated heterosexual adults instructed in correct and consistent use. The condom provides even less protection with anal sex.

December 6, 2012
10:47 p.m.
gina99 says...

Raising the minimum wage will force more companies to lay off and move out of New York States. It will increase the need at food pantries. Liberals can't understand that raising the minimum wage hurts the poorest in society by slashing entry level jobs. Youth unemployment is high enough in NYS.

December 7, 2012
12:39 a.m.
smith says...

Re: Hughes, "New York ... have less than 50 percent of their populations working"
That must be why NY was a sure win for Obama.

December 7, 2012
7:36 a.m.
wmarincic says...

gina99 you are 100% correct.

December 7, 2012
3:27 p.m.
ronzo says...

In 2004, Santa Fe, NM (where I lived before coming to NY), raised its minimum wage to $8.50 per hour, a 65% increase. Business owners predicted gloom and doom. Once the dust settled, everyone adjusted and business continued normally. The working poor could better afford life's necessities. The minimum wage in Santa Fe now is $10.29 per hour. It is the highest in the nation. Santa Fe, in addition to being the state capital, derives most of its economy from tourism. Business owners, small (like the corner liquor store) and large (like Walmart), are no worse off. New businesses, large and small are setting up and the working poor are even better able to afford life's necessities. The cost of living in New Mexico is no where near as high as New York.

When states began banning smoking in bars, restaurants, bingo halls and bowling alleys, the prediction was that they would all go out of business. Did they?
The job loss hysteria is a myth. Go to Santa Fe and see for yourself.

December 7, 2012
4:57 p.m.
Will1960 says...

Ronzo,

Well put. Your personal experience in Santa Fe has wide reaching ramifications for businesses everywhere. I haven't seen an example where the minimum wage was raised and the reverse happened. Like you mentioned the business community adjusts and life goes on. The red tape in this state is a far more damaging factor for businesses. That's where the business community ought to rally for change, instead of using it's resources to fight any raise in the minimum wage. The strangulation by regulation is a much more formitable foe, thus we retain the status quo.

December 7, 2012
8:01 p.m.
J.D. says...

Ronzo and Will1960, when was the last time you saw a person w/ a disability enjoying their job as a bagger at a grocery store? Out of sight, out of mind, right? Keep them in their institutional work boxes.

December 7, 2012
8:26 p.m.
wmarincic says...

Thats great ronzo but Santa Fe is like a year round Lake George I know as I lived in Albuquerque for 14 years and spent many a day in Santa Fe.

December 7, 2012
8:54 p.m.
ronzo says...

Wil1960: Regarding "The red tape in this state is a far more damaging factor for businesses."
To me as an outsider now living here, NY has a much larger problem. The red tape is one thing. The cost of local government here is egregious. I call it Government Sponsored Larceny. The cost of multiple municipal governments within a single county and multiple school districts within one county is one of the major reasons why property taxes here are what they are, the highest in our nation. Why? People LOVE it this way. They love their little tiny police department and fire department in their little town or village. They love their little town and village, each one providing the same service that the county can provide. And they are willing to pay the county to provide duplicative and replicative services, but also incurring the additional cost of doing it themselves. And they are unwilling to change it to make it into that which will make the cost of local government lower.
When people here want to unstrangulate themselves from all these layers of local government and more than one school district in a county, then maybe some businesses might start to look at NY as a place to locate a business without NY State giving away millions of $$$ to beg them to locate here at taxpayer major expense.
It's no wonder why New York is no longer the Empire State. It's sad.

December 7, 2012
9:10 p.m.
ronzo says...

wmarinicic: I've been to the city of Lake George. Santa Fe city has 75,000 people. Santa Fe County has 150,000 people. Lake George is a 3 month tourist trap, at best. After October are there even more than 20,000 people living there? Come on - there's no comparison.

December 7, 2012
9:45 p.m.
ronzo says...

J.D.: Not sure what you mean. Are you saying that if a disabled person bagging groceries at a store received $10.29 per hour for their work, they would better enjoy their job? Actually, the mentally disabled guy who attempted to bag my groceries this week was very jovial, friendly and kind. He even offered to carry my bags out of the store for me. I would gladly support him earning $10.29 per hour for his effort, and would hope that the grocery store would pay him that.

December 7, 2012
9:58 p.m.
wmarincic says...

And Santa Fe is a 12 month tourist trap with Navajo Indians selling turquoise jewlery and people from all over the world running in and out of the overpriced art galleries. As I said you can't compare Santa Fe to NY.

December 8, 2012
7:04 a.m.
ronzo says...

wmarincic: The pueblo Indians selling jewelry and people from all over the world who spend millions of $$$ on artwork and leave many more millions of $$$ in local hotels, restaurants and other businesses has been an economic driver for decades that many places in New York would love to have. You are exactly right. You cannot compare Santa Fe to NY.

December 8, 2012
7:21 a.m.
wmarincic says...

ronzo, I have nothing against them eeking out a living like that, God knows they need it. The Navajo are proof of what this government is willing to do to it's people. What I'm saying is that the economy is very good in Santa Fe due to the tourist trade and N.M is a growing city due to the weather and the very conservative gun laws.

December 8, 2012
8:37 a.m.
J.D. says...

Ronzo,
It's pretty simple. The person bagging your groceries is cross-trained to be able to do multiple jobs that a person w/ a disability cannot do. Grocery stores and other businesses will not pay one person to bag groceries, or other simple tasks that they could do, for high minimum wages.

Therefore, there is a whole contingent of disadvantaged people that want to work, but cannot.

December 8, 2012
8:47 a.m.
ronzo says...

wmarincic: What the heck do gun laws have to do with people from all over the world visiting Santa Fe and spending cash? I don't think that people pick it as a destination because they can pack a six-shooter.

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