Thursday, January 30, 2014

Raising Minimum Wage

A friend of mine posted an on Facebook today.  The article discussed eleven facts about minimum wage that President Obama failed to mention in his State of the Union address.  Since Blogger appears to have some difficulty lately with links, here's the full URL of the original article...

The original article essentially argues against raising minimum wage.  I would like to point out some counter-arguments from items asserted in the original article...

"...because nothing says “I deserve a raise” like refusing to show up to work..."
The Strike is a legal, time-honored method of seeking higher wages.

"Only 1 Percent Of The U.S. Labor Force Earns The Minimum Wage."
I will take this statement at face value, however, the article does not discuss the people who make more than current minimum wage, but less than the proposed new minimum wage of $10.10.

"Teenagers Comprise The Single Largest Age Group Of Minimum Wage Workers."
The point goes on to say that 31 percent of all minimum wage workers are between 16 and 19 years old.  Okay... that means that 69 percent of all minimum wage workers are 20 or older.  Using the article's own math, 45 percent of those making minimum wage are 25 or older!  Have you tried living on minimum wage?  Have you tried raising a family on minimum wage?

"... 25.5 percent of all minimum wage workers work in sales and related occupations..."
"26.1 percent of all minimum wage workers work in food perparation and serving related occupations..."

Again, they're missing the point.  Waiters and waitresses generally work for LESS than minimum wage (because of a loophole in minimum wage law).  Also, many who work on commission make zero if they don't make a sale.  These occupations are kind of beside the point of minimum wage anyway.  Servers are compensated by tips.  Sales personnel have additional motivation to sell, and are in a position to make a great deal more than minimum wage through commissions.

"A Majority Of Them Also Worked Less Than 30 Hours Per Week"
"Less Than One-Third Worked Full-Time"

Yep.  I totally agree.  I would also asssert that this is the employer's choice, not the employee's.  Employers don't have to give as many benefits to part-time workers.  In fact, I believe that a lot of minimum wage workers are working multiple part-time, minimum wage jobs, which skews the author's first point even further.

"One-Third Of Minimum Wage Workers Either Dropped Out Of Or Never Attended High School"
Okay, I agree with this.  If you don't work hard, it's harder to get ahead.  That's a fact of life.

"There Are Nearly Six Times More Minimum Wage Workers Today Than In 2007"
Isn't that another reason to raise minimum wage?  Statistic after statistic shows an increasing divide between the haves and the have-nots, and a shrinking middle class.  Both of these indicate that it's time to raise minimum wage.

"A Change In The Minimum Wage Often Triggers Union Wage Hikes And Benefit Renegotiations"
Again, what's wrong with giving the working man a bit more of the pie?

A couple of final take-aways from the original article...
Raising the minimum wage would theoretically reduce the number of people eligible for public assistance, though I will concede that I don't have the statistics to back me up, and the Federal Government would undoubtedly adjust this as the economy adjusts to the increased minimum wage.

A large point of the original article is to minimize the impact of raising minimum wage.  Okay, if it's not a big deal, then why is corporate America fighting it so hard?

I also want to point out that I make more than minimum wage, and I don't work in a union job.  I will not benefit directly from raising minimum wage, but I support it.

Finally... I have included some links for further reading.  These articles present both sides of the argument, so you can make up your own mind.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Xbox One Follow-Up Review

Per RayRay's request, I'm doing a follow-up on my initial Xbox One review.

For the most part, I'm as happy with it today as I was the day I set it up.  I'm still pleasantly surprised with the quality of the voice commands, but I must admit that it annoyed me when my older daughter decided to mess with me by saying "Xbox pause" during the middle of my favorite shows.  That little prank was short-lived though, when she realized that two could play that game.

There's also a cool smart phone add-on called Xbox One SmartGlass, which allows you to control the Xbox from your smart phone.  My favorite use of this so far was to randomly pause Netflix when my brother-in-law was watching something.  That, by the way, was a one-time prank... I wanted to play a practical joke, not piss him off.

On the downside, there's a severe shortage of split-screen games.  Though we use Xbox one as our media hub, I miss playing split-screen games with my kids.  Hopefully this will work itself out as more games are released.  (I considered Forza 5, but I'm not going to spend $60 on a game that effectively requires you to buy add-ons through micro-transactions.  Note to the gaming industry:  If this is the way you want to go, I will NOT be buying your games!)

My last complaint seems to be working itself out.  For a couple of weeks around Christmas, we were having problems signing on to Xbox Live, Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime.  This isn't a big deal for me, because I use my PC as a backup method of connecting to Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime.  It was, however, inconvenient and irritating... especially when it acted up after I went to bed and my daughter woke me up because she couldn't watch her favorite shows.  These inconveniences, however, should be expected when you're an early adopter of a new technology.  Let me correct that... it SHOULDN'T be expected, but it's an unfortunate fact of life.

Overall, I'm still pleased with the XBox One.  I just bought my second game (Battlefield 4) and when it comes to gaming, I still believe that the Xbox One is a major improvement to its predecessor.  There are several games I'm looking forward to purchasing and playing.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Justice System is Flawed

I lost a large portion of what little faith I had remaining in the criminal justice system this week.

Back in 2011, my daughter's sleazeball ex-boyfriend was charged with first degree burglary and several other charges.  Based on what I've been able to learn from public record, his entire family (meaning dipsh!+, his parents, and his minor sister) broke into an area business and stole five to six figures worth of cash and merchandise.  Jack@$$ agreed to a plea bargain, and pled guilty to first degree burglary.  In exchange for his guilty plea, all other charges were dropped, and he will be on probation for three years and be required to pay fines and restitution.  Assuming that he complies with all conditions of his probation, his record will be expunged.  Generally speaking, I would not have an issue with this.  Everybody makes mistakes, and everyone should be entitled to a second chance.  But in this case, I disagree.  For those of you not familiar with this lowlife, let me give you a little more information that will convince you too that he should be behind bars.

Since originally being charged in early 2011 (just shy of three years ago), he's exhibited an unwilliness and/or inability to limit his behavior to legal activity.  In June of 2013, he assaulted me, breaking my nose.  In July of 2013, he ran over my daughter with his pickup truck, breaking her wrist and ankle.  Later that month, he and a friend were charged with first degree theft after stealing over 10,000 worth of merchandise.

His behavior has been bad enough that DHS became involved; he has been ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation, a drug abuse evaluation, to submit a family history sheet, submit to random drug testing, and he is only allowed two one-hour supervised visits with his son per week.  Despite claiming that his son is "the most important thing" in his life, Dipsh!+ has missed approximately 1/3 of his scheduled visits, only complied with the court orders after being forced, and has failed urinalysis tests.

The final straw, in my opinion, is his contempt for the court system.  After agreeing to the plea deal, he skipped his sentencing three times.  Each time he skipped, he was arrested and ordered to pay an increasing amount of bail.  So... the guy commits first degree burglary with his family... breaks my nose... runs over my daughter with a truck... fails court-ordered drug tests... and skips his sentencing.  Like I said, everyone deserves a second chance, but this guy blew his second... and third... and fourth... chance before he was sentenced.

I realize and support the rationale for his sentencing.  Everyone is presumed innocent, and remains so until proven guilty.  I understand that he's not yet been convicted for the three subsequent crimes.  I just hope that the system is serious about enforcing the terms of his probation.  The fact is, sleazeball ex-boyfriend doesn't give a sh!+ about anyone or anything except himself, and he's unwilling to behave within the confines of the law.  I believe that he's unredeemable.  It's in society's best interest to get his @$$ to jail.  Unfortunately, I am skeptical that anything serious will occur, except for maybe a month or two in jail, more fines, and longer probation.