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The 110th congress starts tomorrow

mccmcc glitchRegistered User, ClubPA regular
edited January 2007 in Debate and/or Discourse
So the 110th congress, elected in last year's elections, has their first day of work tomorrow.

A lot of people have some very elaborate plans for how this is all going to go down from minute one, and in drastic contrast to how Congress normally works I think the beginning of this Congressional session will actually be pretty fast-paced and interesting.

For starters, making things interesting here is Nancy Pelosi, whose "First 100 Hours" strategy was published before the election, detailing a really extremely busy agenda of things that Pelosi claimed a Democrat-controlled congress would do IMMEDIATELY. As far as I can tell, if they stick to this plan, this means by early next wednesday morning, or tuesday after next if we're talking working hours here, we should have ethics reforms, previously unenacted recommendations from the September 11 commissions, a minimum wage raise, a lowering of student loan costs, a change to last year's medicare plan to allow negotiation over prices, and a removal of the federal ban on stem cell research.

Apparently attempting to make a clear difference between the 110th congress and the 109th congress that the Democrats (as absolutely nobody paid attention to them because everybody was too busy thinking about Mark Foley) tried very hard to paint as "do-nothings", Pelosi, amazingly enough, appears to have actually taken some steps to make sure this hopelessly busy agenda actually comes to pass; apparently nearly every one of the items on this list is going to go pretty much straight to a vote, without going through committees or the normal hearing and debate process. This is a really interesting move-- and one that has the Congressional Republicans really pissed off, because they [correctly] observe that this is not an open, accountable, or bipartisan way to run the Congress. The Democrats reply that yeah, but this was the platform they ran on and it has as close to a direct voter stamp of approval as anything Congress does is ever likely to get:
As they forged the January calender, Pelosi and other Democratic leaders were aware they would be criticized for initially not fulfilling her promise to allow more input from the minority.

But "she also promised we would do this in 100 hours, and this is the way to get these (measures passed),'' Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly said Tuesday.

"The priority is to get this done,'' Daly said. "These are things we ran on and said we were going to do."

Daly said Pelosi remains committed to granting the minority a significant role in the 110th Congress and that this will be apparent over the next two years.

While I do think this would be horrible practice if they make a habit of it, I think that this is actually kind of cool so long as it's just a trick to pass the "100 hours" stuff in time and it doesn't reflect how the Congress will be run after that. The whole thing is also a fairly ballsy move, and one that's actually pretty likely to work. Almost everything on the list (except the ethics reforms, which worryingly they seem to plan to do on day one) is simple and straightforward enough that there's not really any way to amend it except to add pork. Meanwhile, as long as the Democrats vote as a bloc on that first set of items, pretty much everything on the list can get passed as a straight up-or-down vote; and the Democrats can probably be convinced to vote as a bloc for at least this one single electoral orgasm, as long as they don't have to hold the pose any longer than next Wednesday morning. (By next Thursday, of course, the progressives and the blue dogs will be literally trying to chew each other's faces off on the house floor.)

On this note, the only remaining observation there is to make really is that the new head of the House Rules Committee, the person who will be overseeing ethics reforms, is named Louise Slaughter. That is fucking awesome. Look at this sentence that Fox News was forced to print:
Slaughter was expected to outline the House ethics plans for reporters on Wednesday.
---

The other person to watch over the next couple of weeks is going to be George W. Bush, who has made it clear he intends to at least attempt to take a very active hand in what this new Congress does. Although last year's election can be viewed as one giant "Dear George W. Bush, We Hate You" note from the electorate, Bush is going on the offensive, hoping that if he just plows ahead and insists he's relevant, it will be true. He actually very well may be right. Bush is inserting himself into the Democrats' little victory party in two very specific ways.

For starters, Bush today suddenly made an announcement of a slew of priorities he has for this years' budget, the centerpiece of which is-- be ready-- balancing the budget. Bush is making a really, really big deal about how the budget should be balanced. This is kind of like seeing Richard Dawkins go up on a stage and announce that the key to happiness and world peace is that everyone needs to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior.

Okay, I may be a little unnecessarily snarky about this. But as a cynical person I cannot help but note the obvious facts that (1) it's only now for the first time occurred to Bush that budget deficits are bad now that the Democrats are in power and there's some chance of the budget being spent on things Bush doesn't like, and (2) Bush's unveiled plan, which some economists think smells kinda fishy since Bush still wants to make his tax cuts permanent, would call for the budget to be balanced by 2012-- in other words, "by the end of the next guy's term".

Of course, this doesn't matter so much right now. For one thing, the budget (which was supposed to have been passed by the end of last year) is going to have to wait a bit, what with how busy the Congress will be in those first 100 hours legalizing stem cell loans for minimum-wage 9/11 commission members and whatnot. Meanwhile the initial posturing over the budget can only wind up being a good thing, since it indicates that both the white house and the congress are dedicated to making this year's federal budget, if no other, be balanced; the disagreement from here is going to be solely about how best to balance the budget, which is a much better debate to be in than the ones we've been in the last however many years. If we get really lucky the White House and Congress might get into a game of political Chicken trying to out-fiscal-responsibility each other or something, which can only lead good places.

So more important for now is probably the big time bomb that Bush is waiting to drop, which is his new Iraq plan. After the American people made it as clear as possible that they don't think "stay the course" is working, Bush has been making an enormous amount of noise (without actually committing to anything) to unveil a new plan for Iraq based around staying the course even more-- continuing with the current strategy, but "surging" troops by about 30,000 or so. This plan, which hasn't been fully explained or even formally announced, has the support of John McCain and basically nobody else.

This plan might not be for real. Bush might change his mind at the last minute, and he might not really want to do this-- the whole thing might just be the Harriet Myers sales trick again, putting forth something horribly unpalatable as a first attempt so that when he instead "gives in" and suggests instead something merely distasteful, it looks like a compromise. But either way, the point is, Bush is itching for a fight on Iraq, and the fight is going to be sooner rather than later. As soon as Bush makes this "plan" formal, the Congress is basically going to have to drop everything and get exactly what it is they plan to do about Iraq hashed out and on the table immediately, and probably won't be able to get much done until either Congress or the White House wrestles the other into submission. Since the Democrats don't seem to have decided yet amongst themselves what their own plans for Iraq were (aside from "whatever that James Baker guy said"), the Congress will not exactly be starting from a position of strength there.

The Financial Times says that Bush's plan (and the political flamewar it will touch off) is going to be unveiled "within 10 days"-- which will very neatly bring us right at, or near the end of, the 100 hours agenda. We are totally not going to have a budget passed until like after Super Mario Galaxy is released.

In the meantime, alongside all the things he's saying about balanced budgets, and all the things he's not saying about Iraq, Bush has today made a very, very large number of statements about "bipartisanship"-- many of them in, weirdly enough, an guest op-ed column published in the Wall Street Journal this morning (sorry, I can't find a link). But these statements are pretty clearly meant to be read not as "I will work with the new Congress", but as "the new Congress had better damn well be ready to work with me":
Few believe Mr Bush is prepared to compromise on his most basic principles, which includes "victory" in Iraq, an extension of the controversial tax cuts that were pushed through in his first term, and opposition to the funding of stem cell research. The Democrats have promised contrary action on all three.

"Mr Bush talks the talk of bipartisanship but then he doesn't actually change his positions," says Thomas Mann, congressional scholar at the Brookings Institution. "His idea of bipartisanship is for members of both parties to support him."

In the short term, as far as it goes concerning "bipartisanship" and whether Congress or Bush is going to be the bitch for the next two years, the first thing to watch is probably going to be the inevitable stem cell funding bill which is looking like the most certain part of that 100 hours agenda to be passed. Congress passed last year, and Bush used the first and so far only veto of his presidency to stop, a stem cell research bill, so this is basically a do-over-- but it's a do-over that seems much more likely to work than the first try did. This is an issue which enjoys wide bipartisan support, and the margins by which the Congressional vote on the stem cell bill last year fell short of the "veto-proof" margin are just about equal to the gains the Democrats made in the elections last year. Whether or not stem cell research is possible in America one month from tomorrow is probably going to come down solely to whether Pelosi's aggressive "100 hours" tactics alienate enough Republican congresspersons that they vote against the stem cell bill just out of spite. (Although even if the stem cell bill gets past Bush the research might not be starting immediately-- because as far as I can tell until we pass a budget the NSF and NIH don't actually have any funding. LOL!)

As a final note, read this.

mcc on
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Posts

  • PodlyPodly good moleman to youRegistered User regular
    edited January 2007
    mcc wrote:
    a lowering of student loan costs

    Oh how I have been dreaming about you, 110th congress.

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  • BarcardiBarcardi All the Wizards Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    i give it about 10 minutes before they vote to increase their low low wages

  • The Green Eyed MonsterThe Green Eyed Monster i blame hip hop Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Barcardi wrote:
    i give it about 10 minutes before they vote to increase their low low wages
    Didn't they pass an amendment about how they can only increase wages for the next Congress? I know about the incumbency thing, but uhhh they're not quite as dumb as you think.

    wisdom wrote:
    if knowledge is power and power corrupts, be smart, be evil
  • Target PracticeTarget Practice Registered User
    edited January 2007
    celery77 wrote:
    Barcardi wrote:
    i give it about 10 minutes before they vote to increase their low low wages
    Didn't they pass an amendment about how they can only increase wages for the next Congress? I know about the incumbency thing, but uhhh they're not quite as dumb as you think.
    Yeah, the 27th Amendment says that pay raises don't go into effect til the next election.

    Also, where I can see them running into snags on this: Lieberman. He no longer has any reason to be loyal to the Democratic leadership, and if the votes are all split exactly on party lines, he's the swing vote. (There's that Socialist from Vermont, too, but he's not exactly very likely to vote on the Republican side of anything.)

    For that matter, anything passed by a party-line vote can be vetoed by Bush.

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  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited January 2007
    We should all do shots every time Bush vetoes something.

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  • matt has a problemmatt has a problem Six pack on a dick Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Bush has been saving up his vetoes for a moment just like this...

    Seriously, the man's going to get carpal tunnel from all the veto stamping.

    h1DI1.jpg
    All my fuckin life I lived a normal fuckin life
  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    I think the Republicans are upset that they're irrelevant for the first 100 hours of the new term. Well, welcome to the past 6 years of being a Democrat.

    Anyhow, if the Republicans start making noise, and trying to hold things up, the Democrats should just start painting them as obstructionists. My money is on Bush to issue some vetoes in these first 100 hours, because really, he's about as interested in bipartisanship as I am in fundamentalist Christianity.

  • Target PracticeTarget Practice Registered User
    edited January 2007
    Also, I have to say I have absolutely no tears to shed over bypassing the committees. Way too many good bills get killed long before they make it to a vote.

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  • Irond WillIrond Will Dragonmaster Cambridge. MASuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited January 2007
    Bush can negotiate from a position of relative strength on Iraq, both because it's pretty much an executive-controlled action and especially because the congress isn't eager to own the massive failure that any possible alternative would be at this point. If they're smart they'll passive-aggressively pass funding for whatever troop spike or whatever he's proposing now and make it clear that this is his mess.

    On the other stuff, Pelosi would do well to cockblock Bush at every turn. He's used to the idea that congress has to go along with him on everything, and I think it would do political wonders for the Democrats to contravene the stuff he's publicly pushing. I'd actually be surprised if Republicans continue to carry water for him as a bloc.

    The budget bit is good news, if a little sickening.

    edit: also, great OP as always, mcc.

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  • QuazarQuazar Registered User
    edited January 2007
    So apparantly one of the issues that Republicans and Democrats are expected to compromise on is raising the minimum wage. If I remember correctly, the democrats want it raised to $7.00/hour.

    And people thought the employment rate was bad NOW...

    Spoiler:
  • Irond WillIrond Will Dragonmaster Cambridge. MASuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited January 2007
    Quazar wrote:
    So apparantly one of the issues that Republicans and Democrats are expected to compromise on is raising the minimum wage. If I remember correctly, the democrats want it raised to $7.00/hour.

    And people thought the employment rate was bad NOW...

    I'd be surprised if it affected unemployment at all.

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  • Target PracticeTarget Practice Registered User
    edited January 2007
    Irond Will wrote:
    Quazar wrote:
    So apparantly one of the issues that Republicans and Democrats are expected to compromise on is raising the minimum wage. If I remember correctly, the democrats want it raised to $7.00/hour.

    And people thought the employment rate was bad NOW...

    I'd be surprised if it affected unemployment at all.
    Suddenly we'll see a shortage of burger flipper jobs

    Because, you know

    Fast food places will suddenly be able to do with fewer of them when they have to pay them a buck-fifty more per hour

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  • gundam470gundam470 Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Irond Will wrote:
    Quazar wrote:
    So apparantly one of the issues that Republicans and Democrats are expected to compromise on is raising the minimum wage. If I remember correctly, the democrats want it raised to $7.00/hour.

    And people thought the employment rate was bad NOW...

    I'd be surprised if it affected unemployment at all.

    Minimum wage is supposed to go up to $7.50 in California this year and $8.00 next.

    This is supposed to cause large numbers of layoffs.

    gorillaSig.jpg
  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited January 2007
    gundam470 wrote:
    Irond Will wrote:
    Quazar wrote:
    So apparantly one of the issues that Republicans and Democrats are expected to compromise on is raising the minimum wage. If I remember correctly, the democrats want it raised to $7.00/hour.

    And people thought the employment rate was bad NOW...

    I'd be surprised if it affected unemployment at all.

    Minimum wage is supposed to go up to $7.50 in California this year and $8.00 next.

    This is supposed to cause large numbers of layoffs.

    So are the new Diesel Regulations.

    Most likely, it'll just give people an excuse to lay people off without getting in trouble.

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  • Target PracticeTarget Practice Registered User
    edited January 2007
    gundam470 wrote:
    Irond Will wrote:
    Quazar wrote:
    So apparantly one of the issues that Republicans and Democrats are expected to compromise on is raising the minimum wage. If I remember correctly, the democrats want it raised to $7.00/hour.

    And people thought the employment rate was bad NOW...

    I'd be surprised if it affected unemployment at all.

    Minimum wage is supposed to go up to $7.50 in California this year and $8.00 next.

    This is supposed to cause large numbers of layoffs.
    Are you sure you don't mean, "It gives companies a flimsy pretext for large numbers of layoffs"?

    sig.gif
  • Ant000Ant000 Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Well considering it hasn't been in step with inflation for some time, I think its the right thing to do.

    Although for businesses with thin profit margins, like fast food and some retailers, it would surprise me if it didn't have an effect on employment levels. One of the first things in economics last term we learned was how much my professor hates the minimum wage :).

  • Irond WillIrond Will Dragonmaster Cambridge. MASuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited January 2007
    gundam470 wrote:
    Irond Will wrote:
    Quazar wrote:
    So apparantly one of the issues that Republicans and Democrats are expected to compromise on is raising the minimum wage. If I remember correctly, the democrats want it raised to $7.00/hour.

    And people thought the employment rate was bad NOW...

    I'd be surprised if it affected unemployment at all.

    Minimum wage is supposed to go up to $7.50 in California this year and $8.00 next.

    This is supposed to cause large numbers of layoffs.
    Who are they going to lay off? The only people making minimum wage seem to be fast food counter biscuits and wal-mart checkers in their first month. And I'm pretty sure that both roles are critical enough to the profitibility of both businesses that they really can't get rid of the jobs.

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  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited January 2007
    It just gets shifted to the consumer anyways.

    They already increased the prices at Carl's Jr.

    My salad now costs 11 more pennies, and I don't get a nice useful quarter out of the change for the soda machine at the office.

    <img class=" title=":cry:" class="bbcode_smiley" />

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  • Irond WillIrond Will Dragonmaster Cambridge. MASuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited January 2007
    Ant000 wrote:
    Well considering it hasn't been in step with inflation for some time, I think its the right thing to do.

    Although for businesses with razor thin profit margins, like fast food and some retailers, it would surprise me if it didn't have an effect on employment levels. One of the first things in economics last term we learned was how much my professor hates the minimum wage :).

    You'll notice that people who rage against the minimum wage are generally either those whose own income is dependent upon other people earning less than a living wage, or those in some insulated profession in which the abstracted toil of the hoi-polloi is an academic exercise in some higher paradigm of efficiency.

    Fuck both of them.

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  • mccmcc glitch Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited January 2007
    Irond Will wrote:
    gundam470 wrote:
    Irond Will wrote:
    Quazar wrote:
    So apparantly one of the issues that Republicans and Democrats are expected to compromise on is raising the minimum wage. If I remember correctly, the democrats want it raised to $7.00/hour.

    And people thought the employment rate was bad NOW...

    I'd be surprised if it affected unemployment at all.

    Minimum wage is supposed to go up to $7.50 in California this year and $8.00 next.

    This is supposed to cause large numbers of layoffs.
    Who are they going to lay off? The only people making minimum wage seem to be fast food counter biscuits and wal-mart checkers in their first month. And I'm pretty sure that both roles are critical enough to the profitibility of both businesses that they really can't get rid of the jobs.

    I sure do find it interesting how In-n-out burger franchises seems to have more workers in the building at any given moment than most actual retail stores in the state, yet they already pay $10/hr.

    I also cannot help but wonder, just speaking hypothetically here, if the Democrats "raise" raxes [fail to extend tax cuts] and raise the minimum wage, and employment and the economy actually go up, what happens then? I vaguely suspect this might happen just because given the last six years we've had, it would be difficult for things to get worse.

    Ah well.

  • YosemiteSamYosemiteSam Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    gundam470 wrote:
    Irond Will wrote:
    Quazar wrote:
    So apparantly one of the issues that Republicans and Democrats are expected to compromise on is raising the minimum wage. If I remember correctly, the democrats want it raised to $7.00/hour.

    And people thought the employment rate was bad NOW...

    I'd be surprised if it affected unemployment at all.

    Minimum wage is supposed to go up to $7.50 in California this year and $8.00 next.

    This is supposed to cause large numbers of layoffs.
    Are you sure you don't mean, "It gives companies a flimsy pretext for large numbers of layoffs"?
    Companies don't just fire people because they think it's fun, they respond to changes in the market to be profitable. If the big bad companies fired more employees than they need to, the smart companies would keep their employees and drive the dumb companies out of business.

    We are all very lucky to live in a world where there is this much music.
  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited January 2007
    My experience in retail is that the managers get kickbacks if they fuck over the employees.

    I was one of the best employees they had ever had, and I had to struggle with my boss to get my pay raised from 7/hr to 7.30/hr.

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  • QuazarQuazar Registered User
    edited January 2007
    Irond Will wrote:
    Ant000 wrote:
    Well considering it hasn't been in step with inflation for some time, I think its the right thing to do.

    Although for businesses with razor thin profit margins, like fast food and some retailers, it would surprise me if it didn't have an effect on employment levels. One of the first things in economics last term we learned was how much my professor hates the minimum wage :).

    You'll notice that people who rage against the minimum wage are generally either those whose own income is dependent upon other people earning less than a living wage, or those in some insulated profession in which the abstracted toil of the hoi-polloi is an academic exercise in some higher paradigm of efficiency.

    Fuck both of them.
    Ok. $5.50 is "less than the living wage" in California and New York for sure, but for most places, it's not so.

    For example, starting wage here in a high-income area of metro Atlanta is $6.50. Almost nowhere pays less than that. Is it more than minimum wage? Yes, but it's less than $7.

    Not everywhere is like California, where In N' Out Burger starts you at $9/hour.

    Spoiler:
  • mccmcc glitch Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited January 2007
    Quazar wrote:
    Not everywhere is like California, where In N' Out Burger starts you at $9/hour.
    This is significantly more than most/many retail/burgerflipper jobs in the state pay.

  • Ant000Ant000 Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    One thing I remember hearing about minimum wage is a statistically like half the people who earn it are younger people in their first jobs, who live as dependents with older income earners and whose incomes are primarily disposable. Thus, a lot of the money that goes into a minimum wage increase is wasted on punk teenagers who just use it to buy more stupid shit :). It would be worth investigating tax breaks, like sales tax exemption, or tax refunds or something instead, to really aid those workers who actually would benefit from the minimum wage being raised. Maybe that's not a great idea, but...there's probably a more efficient means of increasing people in need's standard of living than just a blanket wage floor.

    In the interim though it's probably the best solution.


    On another note, an interesting solution in my area in response to high wages for unskilled labour has been a large push towards heavy automation and barebones staff levels. I've seen it in a number of grocery stores and some retail outlets in increasing numbers -- it will be interesting (perhaps a little unnerving) to see how far this kind of stuff goes.

  • Target PracticeTarget Practice Registered User
    edited January 2007
    mcc wrote:
    I sure do find it interesting how In-n-out burger franchises seems to have more workers in the building at any given moment than most actual retail stores in the state, yet they already pay $10/hr.
    Oh yeah, I remember when I went there. There were like a dozen workers alone just cooking burgers.

    Keep in mind a couple things, though: They only have a relative few locations, and have, if I may say so, something of a "cult following". Furthermore, I'm pretty sure In-N-Outs are all owned by the company, whereas most other fast food places have franchises.

    This makes things a lot different. In-N-Out makes their money selling food to their customers. Companies like McDonald's make their money by renting out buildings to franchisees and selling them food and equipment.

    The minimum wage increase won't affect the corporation, it'll affect the franchises.

    Edit: Also, I live in Arizona, and In-N-Out pays $10/hr. here too. P

    sig.gif
  • Irond WillIrond Will Dragonmaster Cambridge. MASuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited January 2007
    mcc wrote:
    I also cannot help but wonder, just speaking hypothetically here, if the Democrats "raise" raxes [fail to extend tax cuts] and raise the minimum wage, and employment and the economy actually go up, what happens then? I vaguely suspect this might happen just because given the last six years we've had, it would be difficult for things to get worse.

    Ah well.
    Of course it would be due to the magnificent eye towards the future that the stewards of our economy have maintained over the past six years. Remember how the 1994-2000 boom were all a product of the remarkable foundation laid by Ronald Reagan?

    Yeah, that.

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  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Teenagers are a powerful revenue source; they keep us old people surrounded by cool new gizmos.

    Also, fuck man, that's one of the best times of your life; less responsibility, money you can use on stupid stuff.

    I wouldn't take that away from people.

    Especially considering how many will never actually get much further than their summer jobs.

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  • mccmcc glitch Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited January 2007
    Keep in mind a couple things, though: They only have a relative few locations,
    Actually here in the bay area there's basically a greater density of in-n-outs than there is of any other fast food place except like maybe taco bell and mcdonalds.
    and have, if I may say so, something of a "cult following". Furthermore, I'm pretty sure In-N-Outs are all owned by the company, whereas most other fast food places have franchises.
    Very much yes and yes.

  • Irond WillIrond Will Dragonmaster Cambridge. MASuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited January 2007
    Ant000 wrote:
    One thing I remember hearing about minimum wage is a statistically like half the people who earn it are younger people in their first jobs, who live as dependents with older income earners and whose incomes are primarily disposable. Thus, a lot of the money that goes into a minimum wage increase is wasted on punk teenagers who just use it to buy more stupid shit :). It would be worth investigating tax breaks, like sales tax exemption, or tax refunds or something instead, to really aid those workers who actually would benefit from the minimum wage being raised. Maybe that's not a great idea, but...there's probably a more efficient means of increasing people in need's standard of living than just a blanket wage floor.

    In the interim though it's probably the best solution.

    In general, raising the minimum wage tends to ripple up through the rest of the economy. Most benefits that white collar types enjoy at their jobs essentially came from union workers at the (then) bottom of the food chain demanding things like overtime, health coverage, or a 40 hour week.

    These things matter for all workers.

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  • QuazarQuazar Registered User
    edited January 2007
    Irond Will wrote:
    mcc wrote:
    I also cannot help but wonder, just speaking hypothetically here, if the Democrats "raise" raxes [fail to extend tax cuts] and raise the minimum wage, and employment and the economy actually go up, what happens then? I vaguely suspect this might happen just because given the last six years we've had, it would be difficult for things to get worse.

    Ah well.
    Of course it would be due to the magnificent eye towards the future that the stewards of our economy have maintained over the past six years. Remember how the 1994-2000 boom were all a product of the remarkable foundation laid by Ronald Reagan?

    Yeah, that.
    I was under the impression that the economy has been bouncing back very strongly, save for a few very prominant American industries (airlines, auto companies, etc.).

    The real problem the past couple of years is not the economy, it's the unemployment rate. And raising the minimum wage won't be helping that at all.

    Spoiler:
  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Ant000 wrote:
    One thing I remember hearing about minimum wage is a statistically like half the people who earn it are younger people in their first jobs, who live as dependents with older income earners and whose incomes are primarily disposable. Thus, a lot of the money that goes into a minimum wage increase is wasted on punk teenagers who just use it to buy more stupid shit :). It would be worth investigating tax breaks, like sales tax exemption, or tax refunds or something instead, to really aid those workers who actually would benefit from the minimum wage being raised. Maybe that's not a great idea, but...there's probably a more efficient means of increasing people in need's standard of living than just a blanket wage floor.

    In the interim though it's probably the best solution.


    On another note, an interesting solution in my area in response to high wages for unskilled labour has been a large push towards heavy automation and barebones staff levels. I've seen it in a number of grocery stores and some retail outlets in increasing numbers -- it will be interesting (perhaps a little unnerving) to see how far this kind of stuff goes.
    Dude, you're giving money to people who are primarily going to spend it. i.e. put it back into the economy. This is a hundred times better than giving it to rich people, who are just going to sit on most of it for the next several generations. It's like trickle down economics, if it actually worked.
    Irond Will wrote:
    mcc wrote:
    I also cannot help but wonder, just speaking hypothetically here, if the Democrats "raise" raxes [fail to extend tax cuts] and raise the minimum wage, and employment and the economy actually go up, what happens then? I vaguely suspect this might happen just because given the last six years we've had, it would be difficult for things to get worse.

    Ah well.
    Of course it would be due to the magnificent eye towards the future that the stewards of our economy have maintained over the past six years. Remember how the 1994-2000 boom were all a product of the remarkable foundation laid by Ronald Reagan?

    Yeah, that.
    This is exactly what I was going to say.

    Of course, when you point out that this means that Jimmy Carter was one of the best economic presidents in history, for some reason conservatives tend to think that's not the case. It's weird.

  • Target PracticeTarget Practice Registered User
    edited January 2007
    Quazar wrote:
    Irond Will wrote:
    mcc wrote:
    I also cannot help but wonder, just speaking hypothetically here, if the Democrats "raise" raxes [fail to extend tax cuts] and raise the minimum wage, and employment and the economy actually go up, what happens then? I vaguely suspect this might happen just because given the last six years we've had, it would be difficult for things to get worse.

    Ah well.
    Of course it would be due to the magnificent eye towards the future that the stewards of our economy have maintained over the past six years. Remember how the 1994-2000 boom were all a product of the remarkable foundation laid by Ronald Reagan?

    Yeah, that.
    I was under the impression that the economy has been bouncing back very strongly, save for a few very prominant American industries (airlines, auto companies, etc.).

    The real problem the past couple of years is not the economy, it's the unemployment rate. And raising the minimum wage won't be helping that at all.
    I don't have numbers, but I believe far more Americans are underemployed than unemployed. The minimum wage isn't an issue for those people.

    For that matter, most unemployed people are not looking for the kinds of jobs that get minimum wage.

    When you come down to it, the minimum wage doesn't directly affect many people. The main reason for having it is to prevent companies from going back to exacting as much as labor as possible for as little recompense as they can get away with.

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  • LavaKnightLavaKnight Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    I'm pretty excited for this year. Getting all these important matters settled first leaves a lot of time for them to deal with other issues, possibly the environment, with a lot more vigor and importance later on in the year.

    Though with as much as we've heard about these few issues that they're tackling right away, I'm left wondering just what they'll have to do after this first "100 hours."

  • QuazarQuazar Registered User
    edited January 2007
    Ant000 wrote:
    On another note, an interesting solution in my area in response to high wages for unskilled labour has been a large push towards heavy automation and barebones staff levels. I've seen it in a number of grocery stores and some retail outlets in increasing numbers -- it will be interesting (perhaps a little unnerving) to see how far this kind of stuff goes.

    Well, the entire point of advanced robots is transferring labor jobs away from humans and onto robots in order for humans to live safer, more fulfilling lives. It's the best thing for humanity in the long run (in theory).

    It is not, however, the best thing for certain types of workers at the time of the transition, and whatever robotics company pioneers such machines will probably end up out-of-business or taxed to hell due to pressure from labor unions and union-friendly politicians.

    But that's a topic for another day.

    Spoiler:
  • Irond WillIrond Will Dragonmaster Cambridge. MASuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited January 2007
    Quazar wrote:
    I was under the impression that the economy has been bouncing back very strongly, save for a few very prominant American industries (airlines, auto companies, etc.).

    The real problem the past couple of years is not the economy, it's the unemployment rate. And raising the minimum wage won't be helping that at all.
    The bigger problem has been the collapse of the middle class and the increasing polarization in wage levels. Raising the minimum wage will help this, and workers at that end of the spectrum can't really be further downsized and their jobs largely cannot be exported.

    Figures on the "state of the American Economy" are pretty strongly contested in general. Stating that the economy is "bouncing back" is not an uncontroversial statement.

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  • Casual EddyCasual Eddy Fighting the War on String Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Stell cell research could come back?

    I don't know why I find that so excellent...

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  • JragghenJragghen Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Irond Will wrote:
    Most benefits that white collar types enjoy at their jobs essentially came from union workers at the (then) bottom of the food chain demanding things like overtime, health coverage, or a 40 hour week.

    These things matter for all workers.

    Obligatory:
    "A DAY IN THE LIFE OF JOE REPUBLICAN"

    Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards. With his first swallow of water, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to ensure their safety and that they work as advertised.

    All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer's medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance - now Joe gets it too.

    He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.

    In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.

    Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for the laws to stop industries from polluting our air.

    He walks on the government-provided sidewalk to subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.

    Joe begins his work day. He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe's employer pays these standards because Joe's employer doesn't want his employees to call the union.

    If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he'll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn't think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.

    It is noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe's deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression.

    Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime. Joe also forgets that his in addition to his federally subsidized student loans, he attended a state funded university.

    Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards to go along with the tax-payer funded roads.

    He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers' Home Administration because bankers didn't want to make rural loans.

    The house didn't have electricity until some big-government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification.

    He is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn't have to.

    Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn't mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day. Joe agrees: "We don't need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I'm a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have."

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  • QuazarQuazar Registered User
    edited January 2007
    Irond Will wrote:
    Quazar wrote:
    I was under the impression that the economy has been bouncing back very strongly, save for a few very prominant American industries (airlines, auto companies, etc.).

    The real problem the past couple of years is not the economy, it's the unemployment rate. And raising the minimum wage won't be helping that at all.
    The bigger problem has been the collapse of the middle class and the increasing polarization in wage levels. Raising the minimum wage will help this, and workers at that end of the spectrum can't really be further downsized and their jobs largely cannot be exported.

    Figures on the "state of the American Economy" are pretty strongly contested in general. Stating that the economy is "bouncing back" is not an uncontroversial statement.
    I understand what you're saying, and good companies will probably pay the new minimum wage when neccessarry. At least in most cases.

    Bad companies? Oh, they'll hire more illegal immigrants so they can keep their wages down.

    Spoiler:
  • Irond WillIrond Will Dragonmaster Cambridge. MASuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited January 2007
    Quazar wrote:
    Ant000 wrote:
    On another note, an interesting solution in my area in response to high wages for unskilled labour has been a large push towards heavy automation and barebones staff levels. I've seen it in a number of grocery stores and some retail outlets in increasing numbers -- it will be interesting (perhaps a little unnerving) to see how far this kind of stuff goes.

    Well, the entire point of advanced robots is transferring labor jobs away from humans and onto robots in order for humans to live safer, more fulfilling lives. It's the best thing for humanity in the long run (in theory).

    It is not, however, the best thing for certain types of workers at the time of the transition, and whatever robotics company pioneers such machines will probably end up out-of-business or taxed to hell due to pressure from labor unions and union-friendly politicians.

    Umm.. when have robotics companies ever been driven under by politicians? John Henry didn't win, remember?

    Also, I'm all for automation, but we as a society really do need to pay attention to what we expect people to do when the need for labor is diminished. Ensuring the basic welfare of citizens is a fundamental responsibility of government. Saying "the market will provide" is exactly as useful as "God will provide".

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