Raising the Minimum Wage…Why Not?

downloadwages

Today I was reading where Gov. Jerry Brown backed a plan to raise California’s minimum wage to $10.00 an hour by 2016. A number of Los Angeles-area business groups criticized the legislation, saying it would unfairly burden companies. And according to the article in The Huffington Post – Los Angeles, Stuart Waldman, president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, called the hike “obscene” and said it’s unrealistic to increase wages 25 percent in two years.

Well isn’t that special and of course the requisite reasoning for these businesses objections is that the legislation is done by people who don’t understand business. And they would have to pass the costs along to their customers and clientele. HOGWASH!! or BULLSHIT!!!!, you choose. California’s minimum wage is $8.00 which is higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25. However, states like Washington ($9.19) and Oregon ($8.95) are  higher.

Most of those who support this legislation says that the hike will add about $4000 annually to a worker’s paycheck thus with the extra money, they can infuse the local economy with much-needed revenue.  How bad can that be?

I feel the problem is not that employers aren’t able to pay employees a fair living wage, it’s that many of these multimillion dollar businesses simply don’t want to. Many of the owners are motivated by greed; they’re money-whores. They have been allowed to cruise for decades with hiring illegal immigrants, low-balling wages, paying no health insurance to many of their employees ( and this is done by keeping the employees below what would be considered full-time) and in some cases,  inciting an atmosphere of fear. Their stance, because of the over-saturation of unemployed people and illegal immigrants willing to work, is that all of their employees are expendable. If the employee puts up a fuss, then SEE YA! And the reality is that they will probably have that position filled within a few days, if that long.

983-Wages

I  saw a couple of months ago where the owner of the restaurant chain Mr. Chow, Michael Chow, sold his small mansion, and I’m gagging at the idea of a “small” mansion, and bought a behemoth. Michael Chow is apropos of many of these business owners and restaurateurs who are out there putting up a stink about minimum wage. And I use him as example because he comes from affluence. His father is a renown Chinese actor and his mother comes from a very wealthy family. This is why most of those business owners have no clue. They’ve never had to work for minimum wage, they’ve never had to travel for hours to and from work and they’ve never had to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. They don’t have to figure out how to pay for glasses, braces, clothing, food, shelter, school supplies and college. That’s a given for them.

Many hop into their Rolls Royce Phantoms, Bentley’s, Jags and what not,  leave work and pass by their employees standing at the bus stop, and don’t even see them because they’re invisible and go home to their mansions in Beverly Hills, Bel Air, the Hollywood Hills or wherever they decide to lay their expensive hats and handbags. Unfortunately, most couldn’t care less if they tried about their employees plight.  I have seen many domestic helpers coming out of the Hollywood Hills on foot, down perilous hills, around dangerous curves all the while their employers were luxuriating at their plush, palatial estates.  You would think that knowing their helper doesn’t have a car, they could at least take them to the bus stop. Oh Hell no, what was I thinking.

According to CNBC, California is number 9 on the list of where the wealthiest 5% in the nation lives.

Percentage of millionaire households in 2011: 6.01%
Millionaire households: 750,686
Total households: 12.49 million

To me this is obscene. I don’t begrudge anyone their hard-earned success, but a lot of the wealthiest people’s success comes from family wealth and connections. It puts a person WELL ahead of the game when you have everything in place to succeed. It’s the same with housing. We have an influx of new apartment complexes going up here in Los Angeles almost every few months, but the vast majority of working people can’t afford to live there. The rent is starting in most places, anywhere from $3000, $6000 to upwards of $13,000 a month. Who are these millionaire/billionaire developers building these complexes for if it’s not for their own ilk?

Even with a minimum wage increase to $10.00 an hour, most people still have to live in undesirable neighborhoods or way out in the Valley where the apartments are cheaper, but there’s stiff competition to rent the ones in better neighborhoods. Living in the city where it’s convenient to everything…within walking and short driving distances to supermarkets, pharmacies and shopping complexes, FORGET IT, unless you have stayed put in a rent stabilized apartment for years.

It saddens me to know that we are fast becoming a nation where fiction is now becoming fact. We are moving toward the Dystopian societies of the films Elysium and Soylent Green. The gap is widening between the rich and poor and the middle class is being slowly squeezed out of the equation entirely. So I ask again,  why not raise the minimum wage to something where people can live comfortably with some semblance of dignity and respect? Well I guess raising the minimum wage would mean the wealthy just couldn’t buy another expensive toy…and we can’t have THAT, now can we?

eyes29

HAPPY LABOR DAY TO ALL HARD-WORKING PEOPLE GLOBALLY!

happy_labor_day

To the global working community, have a peaceful and restful Labor Day! And remember this – people making up the “labor” have always been less valued than those individuals who are business owners, CEO’s, senior executives and various captains of industry. Without labor, life as we know it would have never come to fruition. It is time for the United States and any country who does not understand the concept of a “decent standard of living”, to step up to the plate and pay working class people a fair living wage. It is a RIGHT, not a present given only to a chosen few deemed worthy. Peace!

martin-luther-king-labor-day

african-american-worker-labor-day-16x9

If not now, then when? The conversation on stricter gun laws is needed.

In the wake of the absolutely horrific tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut where 27 people lost their lives including the shooter, when will the time be right to start a serious dialogue on stricter gun laws? I must admit I was on the fence about guns because I know that human beings will find a way to kill each other with or without them. But there are far too many of these types of rogue shootings happening in our communities across this nation. Not just in low-income communities as typified in Hollywood action flicks, TV police dramas or in the stereotypical media-hyped 11:00 p.m. lead story, but in bedroom communities and affluent areas that people flee to in order to get away from so-called “big city violence”. The sad but simple truth here is that no one is safe no matter where you live…violence can visit anyone of us at any given time and it doesn’t ask if it can visit, it just appears much like the dreaded Grim Reaper.

While I believe people should have the right to defend themselves, however I don’t believe that access to guns, ammo and what not should be so darn easy. You can go on-line and if someone searches long enough, can buy any type of weapon and artillery they want with ease and without much of a identity or background check. The madness may not stop completely, but it most certainly can be curtailed. And if the shooter, as mentioned in various reports, was mentally unstable, then that makes it even worse because we never want to continue to stigmatize the mentally ill, but people with certain mental illnesses should be called into question when purchasing lethal weapons. Even if it means having a database with people who have been diagnosed with the more potentially violent mental illnesses. Sorry, but something has to be done and it may not go down well with many people but too many lives are needlessly lost to gun violence.

I was watching a segment on a TV news magazine where this shooting range in Texas offered  to host kid’s birthday parties. You had young children, siting in chairs, whose feet couldn’t even touch the ground and were as young as 7 and 8 ( oh by the way, the girls had “pink” guns) there shooting at targets with LIVE ammo. The reasoning behind this twisted mindset, according to the owner, that it’s better to teach them young how to safely handle weapons. Here’s a thought, how about not having weapons around for them to safely handle or at the very least, allow kids to be kids and not train them to become some gun-toting assassins before they’re 10. What do you think… far-fetched???

We can all sit behind out laptops and fume, chat among our family and friends but it’s time for all of us to pull up our big boy pants and big girl panties to do what needs to be done…call our local, state and federal officials on the carpet about gun laws. Make our voices heard load and clear that we want stricter laws and we won’t take no for an answer. The NRA has had a strangle-hold on our government for too long and it’s time for them to break free of their grip and do what’s right for this country or unfortunately we will be mourning another shooting tragedy such as Sandy Hook Elementary School. No, guns don’t kill people, people kill people, but too much easy access to guns by the wrong people can make this a very scary and dangerous world to live in.

Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy

Trees down causing a taxi to crash in Manhattan.

Flooding in Ocean City Maryland.

Flooding near the Brooklyn Bridge Park on the East River.

Flooding in the train station in New York.

View of the flooding down 20th Avenue in New York.

Car is submerged in flood waters flowing down 20th Avenue in New York.

Flooding in Battery Park – New York.

Rising water under the Brooklyn Bridge – New York.

Hurricane Sandy is Taking Aim at the East Coast

From the Live Weather Cam, this image looks like a scene from the film, Day After Tomorrow. It’s surreal and I would suggest that people heed the warnings to evacuate.

6th Avenue in New York looks stark and desolate. Service for the buses and subways have been suspended. Businesses and schools are closed. People please, don’t think you’re invincible, use common sense and seek safety. Remember, you aren’t just putting your life in danger but also that of the First Responders, family and friends who may try to rescue you if necessary.

NYC Braces for Wall of Water from Superstorm

City faces a seawater surge that could reach 11 feet

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS

Updated Monday, Oct. 29, 11:33 a.m.

A woman takes a picture as water washes over the sea wall near high tide at Battery Park in New York on Monday. (AP) 

NEW YORK (AP) – Waves splashed over the sea walls at the southern tip of Manhattan, already at Hurricane Irene levels Monday hours before the worst of a mammoth storm was to hit the nation’s largest city with a wall of water that could reach 11 feet.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo closed two key tunnels to downtown Manhattan after the city shut its mass transit system, stock exchanges, schools and Broadway and ordered hundreds of thousands of people to leave their homes ahead of Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge. While light rain fell steadily and New Yorkers still bustled on the streets, Cuomo warned residents to get out of the way.

“Don’t be fooled, don’t look out the window and say, it doesn’t look so bad,” Cuomo said. “The worst is still coming.”

Cuomo said emergency boats were being moved downstate and the Brooklyn Battery and Holland Tunnels, both prone to flooding, would close at 2 p.m. The floor of the New York Stock Exchange was deserted in its first unplanned shutdown since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. More than 20,000 customers, mostly in Long Island, has lost power in the area by Monday morning, utility officials. Most of the city’s 3,600 outages were in Brooklyn, officials said.

PHOTOS ON SKYE: Waters Rise as Superstorm Threatens Coast
On Monday, crowds gathered along the South Street Seaport, until police shooed them away. In Battery Park City, a complex of high-rise offices and apartment buildings erected on a landfill in lower Manhattan, holdouts watched as the Hudson rose and began to breach sections of scenic walkways along the river.

Many people were still out jogging, walking their dogs and even taking infants out in strollers amid gusts of wind.

Mark Vial pushed a stroller holding his 2-year-old daughter Maziyar toward the door of a building where they live on 15th floor.

“We’re high up enough, so I’m not worried about flooding,” he said. “There’s plenty of food. We’ll be ok.”

Vial, 35, said his building had several holdouts. “The laundry room was packed last night,” he said.

Some New Yorkers packed grocery stores for water and food and scrambled to get out of flood zones, while others insisted they weren’t going anywhere.

Others heeded warnings. Clutching a white pillow in her left hand and two computers in another, Alyssa Marks rushed to get to the subway before it stopped running Sunday evening. She’d gotten cash but had no time to get toiletries and water.

RELATED ON SKYE: Mapping the Megastorm – Track it Live

“I’m nervous, but I’m also excited,” she said as she left her apartment in a lower Manhattan evacuation zone for a friend’s place on higher ground.

Warnings about the superstorm – a predicted combination of Sandy, a wintry system moving in from the West and cold air streaming down from the Arctic – took on a much more ominous tone Sunday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s environmental protection chief, Louis Uccellini, called the projected storm surge “the worst-case scenario” for New York City, Long Island and northern New Jersey.

It threatened to swamp parts of lower Manhattan, flood subway tunnels and knock out the underground network of power, phone and high-speed Internet lines that are the lifeblood of America’s financial capital.

The major American stock exchanges closed for the day, the first unplanned shutdown since the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001. The floor of the NYSE, typically bustling with traders on a Monday morning, fell within the city’s mandatory evacuation zone. The United Nations canceled all meetings at its New York headquarters. New York called off school for the city’s 1.1 million students.

RELATED ON SKYE: Tips on Preparing for the Megastorm

The NYSE’s parent company said late Sunday that the shutdown might be extended through Tuesday “pending confirmation,” according to exchange operator NYSE Euronext.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Sunday announced a mandatory evacuation affecting 375,000 people in low-lying areas from the beaches of Queens to Battery Park City. Subways and buses were shut down Sunday night, leaving more than 5 million mostly carless daily riders on their own to get to higher ground.

Cuomo deployed National Guard troops to the city and Long Island. Consolidated Edison weighed the possibility of shutting down power in parts of lower Manhattan to protect equipment. Broadway shows were canceled for Sunday and Monday. One small hospital was being evacuated, while several others were moving patients to higher floors.

It marked the second time in 14 months that New York City has faced a scenario forecasters have long feared: a big hurricane hitting the city or a bit south, such that the cyclone’s counterclockwise winds drive water into miles of densely populated shoreline.

Hurricane Irene ultimately came ashore as a tropical storm in Coney Island, with a 4-foot storm surge that washed over parts of the southern tip of Manhattan but didn’t wreak the havoc that officials had feared, although it caused tremendous damage elsewhere. Some experts have said that a surge 3 feet higher could have caused huge damage.

PHOTOS ON SKYE: Waters Rise as Superstorm Threatens Coast

Drive-in theater among downtown LA high-rises | Video | abc7.com

Drive-in theater among downtown LA high-rises | Video | abc7.com.

 

Please Help This Family

I know it’s early in the morning but this story breaks my heart. There’s this wonderful family of 4 living here in Los Angeles. I met the mother briefly in my exercise class. She has stage 4 Lymphedema (which is a terrible debilitating disease of the lymphatic system). It has gotten so bad for the family that they literally have little to no food, money and must vacate their apartment has soon as possible.

The problem is that the system is so backed up and flawed that she doesn’t qualify for food assistance because her disability payment is too high…basically, I’m sorry your family has no food, but we can’t help you. Housing isn’t an option because the wait-list is well over a year. I will do everything I can to help them, but if there’s
anything any of you can do, please contact her family at 310.902-3134 – Evette.. No one in a country like the US should go hungry especially children.