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Who Are Minimum Wage Workers?

[ 5 ] August 14, 2014 |

Good run-down:

What’s the breakdown of those being paid the minimum wage by age? In particular, how many are teenagers or in their early 20s?

Of the 3.3 million minimum-wage workers in 2013, about one-quarter were between the ages of 16-19, another one-quarter were between the ages of 20-24, and half were over the age of 25.

What’s the breakdown of those being paid the minimum wage by full-time and part-time work status?

Of the 3.3 million minimum-wage workers in 2013, 1.2 million were full-time, and 2.1 million were part-time–that is, roughly two-thirds of minimum-wage workers are part-time.

What’s the breakdown of those being paid the minimum wage across regions?

For the country as a whole, remember, 4.3% of those being paid hourly wages get the minimum wage or less. If the states are divided into nine regions the share of hourly-paid workers getting the minimum wage in each region varies like this: New England, 3.3%; Middle Atlantic, 4.8%; East North Central, 4.3%, West North Central, 4.6%; South Atlantic, 5.1%; East South Central, 6.3%; West South Central, 6.3%; Mountain, 3.9%; Pacific, 1.5%.

The BLS has state-by-state figures, too. There are two main reasons for the variation. Average wages can vary considerably across states, and in areas with lower wages, more workers end up with the minimum wage. In addition, 23 states have their own minimum wage that is set above the federal level. In those state, fewer workers (with exceptions often made in certain categories like food service workers who get tips) are paid below the federal minimum wage. It’s an interesting political dynamic that many of those who favor a higher federal minimum wage are living in states where the minimum wage is above the federal level; in effect, they are advocating that states who have not adopted the minimum wage policy preferred in their own state be required to do so.

The reality is that just as fast food workers are saying, their struggle is not just for a few more cents or dollars, but is in fact a civil rights struggle, as so many of these workers are people of color denied access to higher level jobs. As they begin to use the more in your face tactics of the civil rights movement like civil disobedience, which the more activist workers are pushing for, this will become an increasing part of the fast food workers movement, such a central group in the larger minimum wage struggle.

Dying for Being Black

[ 73 ] August 14, 2014 |

Among the many things we need to learn from what is happening in Ferguson is that while major protests are rare, cops kill black people for no reason all the time. Like this guy:

Contrasting pictures emerged Wednesday of a Daily Press employee who died Tuesday night in the custody of San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputies after being stunned with a taser multiple times.

Family and co-workers of Dante Parker, 36, said the Victorville resident was a hard-working, well-liked pressman with a good sense of humor who loved to sing on the job. They said he took good care of his family and had been riding his bicycle for years to lose weight.

Parker’s cousin, Ge’shun Harris, told the Daily Press in an email that Parker leaves behind a wife and five children: Four girls ranging in age from 8 to 19 and a 5-year-old boy.

“My cousin was a good man, and that’s hard to do when you’re born into the streets of L.A. County,” Harris said. “(He) worked hard and took care of his kids and his wife. He would have been 37 (on Thursday). He would always tell me to keep working hard so we can … get our family out of L.A. My cousin was a good (man) who was born into a terrible place but didn’t let that stop him.”

But the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said in a detailed Wednesday press release that Parker was considered a suspect in the attempted burglary of a house in the 13000 block of Bucknell Court. A deputy from the Victorville Station stopped Parker while he was riding his bicycle on Luna Road in Victorville around 5 p.m. after the reported breaking-and-entering attempt. The resident who called deputies had told them the suspect fled on a bicycle.

Parker’s co-workers said he had stopped drinking earlier this year and had been trying to lose weight for years after his doctor told him he was at risk for a heart attack or stroke. Tuesday was one of his regular days off.

“He had been trying to lose weight,” Daily Press pressman Ronald Bantug said. “He asked me how to do it and I told him to get on a bike. He had been riding his bike for years with his wife or one of his kids; he lived (around Luna Road) and would always ride in that area. He’d do jumping jacks on breaks out by the freeway or run laps around the building.”

How dare a black man exercise. Obviously, a large black man engaging in physical activity means he is a criminal and must be tased with extreme prejudice.

Ferguson is America.


[ 212 ] August 13, 2014 |


I assume most of you are following what is going on in Ferguson, Missouri tonight, with the heavily armed police (thanks to excess military materiel from Iraq and Afghanistan) violating the civil rights of both reporters and citizens and generally using the Constitution as toilet paper.

The stories are just being written as Twitter is ablaze with not only commentary but first hand accounts from arrested reporters. This is the open thread for this horrible event.

President Obama or Governor Jay Nixon needs to call in the National Guard and disarm the Ferguson police.

Another photo, this from the AP:


….Washington Post reporters have been arrested in 2 cities in 2014: Teheran and Ferguson.

……I see Jay Nixon was very, very busy today with something of the utmost importance. I can see why he has done nothing.

…[SL] Read Bouie on the militarized suppression of protest. I also note that this is yet another example of how federalism and local control are awesome for civil rights.

Ayn Rand’s The Devil Wears Prada

[ 17 ] August 13, 2014 |

Good stuff for this Wednesday morning coming down (or afternoon depending on your time zone):


ANDREA: Happy birthday. Nate, I’m so sorry. I kept trying to leave, but there was a lot going on. And, you know, I didn’t have a choice.

INFERIOR MAN: Don’t worry about it. I’m gonna go to bed.

ANDREA: You are a grown man with a demanding job of your own, yet you seek to punish me for missing several hours of a completely arbitrary event in order to excel in my chosen career?

INFERIOR MAN: I said don’t worry about it.

ANDREA: And you lack even the common manly courage to fight with me about this matter? You would rather slink off to bed, stinking of jealousy and defeat, than argue with the woman you call your mate? You are so lost to your higher self that you would resent me for my achievements, rather than celebrate them with me, sexually?


ANDREA: You disgust me. You are not my sexual equal. You make expensive cheeses for idlers, triflers, and non-producers. I create value in a billion-dollar industry. Your good opinion is utterly meaningless. I will find myself a man who is a captain of industry and buys diamonds to wrap around my throat. You will die in squalid poverty, surrounded by greasy snacks. Good-bye forever.

INFERIOR MAN: Andrea, wait.

ANDREA [over her shoulder]: If you ever make something of value by yourself, take a picture and send it to me. My address will be the tallest skyscraper in the world.

Asbestos is Your Friend

[ 28 ] August 13, 2014 |

Nice to see the asbestos industry pushing its deadly product on poor nations like India. What are a few million developing world lives when there are profits for rich world corporations?

Replicating Youngstown

[ 29 ] August 13, 2014 |

The story of Youngstown’s decline is one that many of you are familiar with. A big industrial steel town that was destroyed by the capital migration of the steel industry to the developing world. Nothing replaced it and today Youngstown is one of the poorest cities in the United States. While an extreme case, it’s story is not very different from Detroit, Flint, Rockford, Toledo, Camden, Harrisburg, Schenectady, and dozens of other cities, not only in the industrial heartland, but throughout much of the nation.

Hopelessness dominates the life of many of those who remain because stable employment, the core of an enjoyable and dignified life in our world, does not exist. And in this era of extreme capital mobility and the concentration of the world’s wealth into the accounts of the global 1%, Youngstown is likely to become closer to the model for the world’s economy than the exception. Too often, this isn’t realized, but this article does a good job placing Youngstown in context:

The 20th century employment model based upon domestic production of goods no longer exists in the Rust Belt. And as globalization and the service sector surge forward, the experiences of 21-year-old Bowman will be shared by millions more young people in the US and across the globe.

This is the logical progression of the global Gilded Age. Anytime you have people winning struggles to create quality jobs and dignified lives, that means those takers are stealing money from the makers who through their beneficence are providing them jobs. So the jobs have to go to people who will be truly grateful for work at sub-living wages, poor worker safety, no environmental protections, and no unions.

On Free Tampons

[ 118 ] August 13, 2014 |

Earlier this week, Jessica Valenti suggested in a column that tampons should be free. I had never really thought about this before, being a guy and all, but it is self-evidently obvious that she’s correct. Menstruation is an issue, like much with our bodies, that the government should step up and provide the basic medical supplies for. Of course, like so many other basic products for our bodies and especially women’s bodies, it does not.

The response to her essay was typical. Valenti was inundated with hate mail, largely from Malkin’s flying monkeys of evil. Because women are gross or something and should be ashamed of their bodies. I do wonder how many Americans would vote on a proposal to shun menstruating women in the woods for a few days a month.

Americans Don’t Care about Climate Change

[ 80 ] August 12, 2014 |

Environmentalism as an active political movement with the ability to create major change has declined to its weakest point in several decades, with the failure to pass the cap and trade bill a shock to the movement’s leading organizations and a sign that their multi-decade strategy of expertise, lobbying, and fundraising was not working. That said, surveys show people still care about the environment. But they don’t care about climate change (or more accurately, they care about it less than all other major environmental issues). So the chances of really doing anything to stop it seem increasingly remote.

Unity Trip

[ 53 ] August 12, 2014 |

Andrew Cuomo, fleeing scandal that is torpedoing his presidential ambitions (world’s smallest violin playing) decides to visit Israel in a show of support of that nation’s racist indiscriminate killing of civilians of Gaza as it seeks to double down on its apartheid policies.

Jerks of the World, Unite!

Marxist Lincoln

[ 74 ] August 12, 2014 |

Look, if you have mainstream Republicans looking to return the nation to the next Gilded Age, it only makes sense that really crazy right-wingers would be longing wistfully for the earlier period of slavery, interfered with by the same perfidious activist government bringing you such horrors as roads, sewers, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Religious right broadcaster Kevin Swanson agreed with one of his guests that Abraham Lincoln imposed socialism on the United States during the “war against the South” – more commonly known as the Civil War.

Swanson hosted neo-Confederate author Walter Kennedy last month on his radio program, reported Right Wing Watch, where the pair argued the Republican Party had been founded by “radical socialists and communists.”

“The Democrats, both Northern and Southerners, believed in limited government, and the Marxists hated that concept,” Kennedy said. “They wanted to do away with states’ rights and limited government so that they’d have one big all-powerful indivisible government that could force its will upon the American people.”

Of course, the same guy said that Frozen was a plot to turn young girls into satanic lesbians. Given the plague of 2014, i.e, any gathering of more than 3 children between the ages of 4 and 12 singing that annoying theme song, I’d like to agree, but then I think, as a liberal, I objectively want all of us to become satanic lesbians, not to mention become Marxists that free black people from treasonous Confederates and their idiot racist Glenn Beck listening descendants longing to rape enslaved black women again without consequences. So sing away annoying 6 year olds, sing away. And then burn a crucifix, just like Barack Obama taught you.


[ 32 ] August 12, 2014 |

Have to give Yao Ming a lot of credit. He could have taken the Jordan/Kobe/(to a lesser extent) LeBron path of superstardom, but instead he has engaged in political causes. Going the Jabbar/Ali/Jim Brown route has no doubt made him enemies, but his work on behalf of wildlife conservation in China is very, very important.

Nazi Camps and HUAC

[ 16 ] August 11, 2014 |

Michael Hiltzik has useful commentary to add to the story of Nazi youth camps in mid-30s New York. The scare over them led to the creation of the Dies Committee, later HUAC.

In Washington, panic about the camp rumors struck Rep. Martin Dies Jr. as a career opportunity.

Dies, a Democrat from the Texas gulf coast, was a slovenly excuse for a congressman. But he had made it onto the powerful House Rules Committee thanks to his connection with Vice President John Nance Garner, who had served in Congress with Dies’ father.

Dies Jr. made himself the leader of the anti-New Deal bloc in the House, a sort of proto-Tea Party group who swore never to vote “aye” on a tax bill or support any New Deal legislation. In May 1938, he offered a resolution calling for an investigation of the purported Nazi summer camps. House leaders saw a chance to keep the indolent Dies out of their hair, by providing him with a distraction. The probe was approved with Dies as chairman, and given a paltry $25,000 for investigating, enough for about a month.

Thus was born the notorious House Committee on Un-American Activities.

It’s again worth nothing here how awful John Nance Garner would have been as a president had FDR not run in 1940.