Lifting America up by raising the wage floor

The good news is that it’s not all bad news these days.
Take the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour – please! That’s a poverty wage, a shameful stain on our extremely rich nation. But don’t count on Washington to lift our wage floor – indeed, pigheaded Republican congress critters refuse to consider it, even declaring there should be no wage floor to sustain America’s middle-class framework.
So where’s the good news? Probably right where you live. Millions of low-wage workers themselves – from fast food workers to adjunct college professors – have been organizing and mobilizing, pushing local leaders to take action against the immoral inequality that’s ripping our society apart and sinking our economy. Sure enough, local officials are responding – Seattle, Chicago, New York City, Austin, Providence, San Francisco, and even Oklahoma City, as well as other locales, either have raised their wage floors or are battling the corporate lobbyists to get the job done.
And here’s a pleasant surprise: Breaking away from the McDonald’s-Domino-Taco Bell herd of low-wage exploiters, several smaller fast food chains are acting on their own, raising their starting pay levels as high as $15 an hour, plus benefits. The Boloco burrito chain in New England, for example, has raised its minimum to $9 an hour, plus subsidizing its employees’ commuting costs and contributing to their 401(k) fund. A Boloco co-founder says, “If we’re talking about building a business that’s successful, but our employees can’t go home and pay their bills, to me that success is a farce.”
Exactly! If you can’t pay your workers a decent wage, then you don’t have a legitimate business. The multimillion-dollar executives at poverty-pay outfits like McDonald’s aren’t running a business, they’re running a labor extortion racket.

“Push to raise wage floor a state-city fight,” Austin American Statesman, July 6, 2014.
“Paying Employees to Stay, Not to Go,” The New York Times, July 5, 2014.

Cargill’s GMO hypocrisy

Can you have your hypocrisy and eat it, too?
I don’t think so, but Cargill Inc. is doing its damndest to get away with its version of the old admonition that eating your cake today means not having it tomorrow. Cargill, the $2.3 billion-a-year food conglomerate, is a huge producer and user of food ingredients that contain genetically manipulated organisms. But it has a marketing problem – by huge margins, consumers here and around the world do not want to put those GMO Frankenfoods on their families’ tables.
Thus, Cargill has been a ferocious, deep-pocket opponent of every state law and ballot initiative that would mandate the labeling of any product containing GMOs. Better that families be kept in the dark about what they’re buying and eating, says Cargill – better for its profits, that is. Indeed, the chairman of the conglomerate’s board is also on the executive committee of the industry lobbying front that goes all out to kill every right-to-know provision for consumers. Any such label, he scolds, would be “misleading.”
But – whoa, what’s this? It’s a press release from Fortress Cargill, proclaiming that the diehard giant is now marketing a non-GMO soybean oil that – voila! – announces on its label that the product is GMO-free. Has the diehard had a change of heart?
Excuse me, but corporations don’t have hearts. They have bottom lines, period. And the bottom line is that Cargill’s terminally-hypocritical honchos see dollars laying on the ground that they’re not getting. So, weasels a company man with the cumbersome title of Food Ingredients Commercial Manager, “Despite the many merits of biotechnology, consumer interest in… non-GMO ingredients is growing, creating opportunities… for food manufacturers.”
That is the clearest expression you’ll ever get of corporate integrity.

“One of the Biggest Opponents of GMO Labeling Is offering More Non-GMO Products,”, July 2, 2014.
“Cargill develops non-GMO soybean oil,”, June 23, 2014.
“Cargill: At a glance,”, 2014.

North Carolina’s Moral Freedom Summer

The Moral Monday Movement is on the move again!
This feisty coalition, based in North Carolina, is an inspiring model of workaday people coming together to reclaim their rights from far-right-wing politicians and plutocrats running amuck. Led by the NAACP, tens of thousands of North Carolinians have joined the Moral Monday civil disobedience protests at the state capitol for more than a year. They’ve outed the extremist governor and legislators who have cut taxes for corporations and the rich, while raising taxes on low-income people; cut funds for public education and jobless benefits; and gutted environmental protections and women’s health funding.
Now, the coalition is going after those political kleptocrats in their districts. The movement has recruited, trained, and sent forth across the state 34 young community organizers with the intention of registering 50,000 new voters this summer. The central rallying cry for this mobilization is for the people to rise up against the atrocious voter-suppression legislation passed last year. That law is flagrantly anti-democratic, shutting elderly people, minorities, students, low-wage workers, and other non-Republican voters out of their polling places.
This is Jim Hightower saying… The effort to restore ballot rights for all in North Carolina is being called Moral Freedom Summer, which connects it directly to the historic Freedom Summer of 1964. In that heroic campaign, activists struggling to secure the vote for African Americans suffered horrific beatings, firebombings, and a shocking triple-murder. Fifty years later, after the Tar Heel State’s top officials shamed themselves by eradicating fundamental rights gained by the blood of those activists, the people are on the move again. To keep up with them and offer help, go to

“Shifting Tactics, Moral Monday Movement Launches a New Freedom Summer,”, July 3, 2014.