Almost Like A Sequel To “Trulbert”

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The Federal Reserve was formed in 1913 for one purpose: to give the nation a stable money supply.  That’s it, nothing fancy, just provide a safe, secure, stable supply of money that will hold its value.  We needed that, because the previous national money schemes all went bust and decades of economic chaos followed.


After WW II, things looked pretty good and people had forgotten the old lessons.  In the 1970’s, Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act to force banks to lend to unqualified borrowers and also expanded the Federal Reserve’s mission to include social engineering through monetary policy: “ . . . effectively promote the goals of maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates . . . .”


Remember the recession under Nixon, WIN buttons and the malaise economy of the Carter years?  And the real estate crash we just had?  Social engineering gone awry.


The federal government still deficit spends but nobody will buy worthless US bonds so the Federal Reserve buys them with money that it prints up.  I suspect the reason that cash inflow isn’t showing as inflation is the rest of the economy is in deflation but the government changed the formula to hide the fact its borrowing only partly offsets the slow-motion crash.


Buyers have a fixed amount of money to spend on monthly house payments.  It doesn’t matter whether that $1,000 per month goes to interest or principal.  The Fed is keeping interest rates low to prop up home values to benefit Baby Boomers wanting to sell McMansions, but it’s killing retirees whose investment accounts earn nothing, cost management fees and are eroded by secret inflation.


I suspect the Fed will raise interest rates when more Baby Boomers have retired and need the investment money.  True, it’ll crush home values but retirees won’t care at that point.


They tinker with the money hoping to reward certain behavior but if it crashes the economy again – as the other systems did before it – then we’ll be standing around saying “What we need is a safe, secure, stable supply of money that will hold its value.”


Joe Doakes

“He who forgets his history…”

Doakes Sunday: Romper Nation

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The gun control debate is a language problem: Liberals don’t speak “Logic,” they speak “Fear.” Or, if you prefer the old terms, “Dialectic” and “Rhetoric.”

Old White men committing suicide are no threat to me, I don’t fear them and don’t care if they have guns. Gang-bangers killing each other in the ghetto are no threat to me, I don’t fear them, let them keep their guns. Policemen shooting Gentle Giants, domestic abusers shooting spouses, children accidentally shooting themselves, none of those are threats to me, I don’t fear them, I don’t care about their guns. I include those deaths in the total of “gun violence” because it makes the problem sound more pressing so I can convince ignorant people to let me solve the problem that really concerns me.

A 20-something White male with mental health issues, inspired to become famous by copying other mass shooters, who has access to guns and to my church, school, shopping mall or movie theatre – that guy’s a threat to me. That guy, I fear. That guy’s guns, I want to take. If the only way to do it is taking everyone else’s guns, well, that’s how we did it in grade school: when one kid farted and nobody would own up to it, the entire class lost our recess privileges. Why expect different behavior from adult Liberals?

Joe Doakes

Collective Guilt is a hallmark of authoritarians and totalitarians everywhere.

Changing Times

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Times change, slogans change.

A Democrat President once said “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”  That’s a Republican way of thinking expressed in the idiom “pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps.”

In contrast, Bernie and Hilary believe “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”  Democrats are all socialists now, a European way of thinking endorsed by Karl, Josef, Fidel and the most famous National Socialist of all, Adolf.

Cue the liberal who writes in bleating “Naziism wasn’t socialism”.  Oh, go ahead.  Do it.  I’m ready for you.  You’ll lose.

Back to Joe’s email:

I’m curious – if we were to survey history for the last few millennia, which system has been more successful at raising overall prosperity?  Or is that factor no longer relevant, misery now being considered acceptable so long as it’s widely enough shared?

Joe Doakes

It’s not even a question for those paying attention.

So much of our society, of course, isn’t, and never has.

Numbers Are Complicated

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

There will be no increase in Social Security in 2016, because there is no inflation.  The government’s official rate of inflation is 0.2%

Except . . . that doesn’t feel right, does it?  The price of gasoline may be holding steady, but nothing else is.  It’s almost as if the government’s official rate is understating inflation.

That’s because it is.  The way they calculate inflation was changed in 1980, and changed again in 1990, always to make things look as if the government is going a wonderful job of keeping prices down, despite what you see at the check-out.

Using today’s method, the rate is 0.2%; using the 1990 method, the rate of inflation is 4%; using the 1980 method, the rate of inflation is 7%.  This isn’t dry economist eye-glazing mumbo-jumbo, this is senior citizens eating dog food because their checks don’t go far enough.

I understand the need to limit spending to keep the system solvent.  The solution isn’t to send seniors to the pet store, it’s to reduce the number of participants in the Ponzi scheme.  Face it: 20-somethings are never going to see Social Security, it’ll collapse long before they get there.  Might as well enact the legislation that says so right now and get them used to the idea of saving for their own future.

Joe Doakes

Except that “saving for their future” is going to get riskier and riskier, if we keep going with the current debt bubble, too.

Det Wårm En Tinglerer Føelens

Liberals pine for Denmark and Sweden.

You can hear it from their politicians – Bernie Sanders is one of many that visibly palpitates for the “Danish system”.  And you can see it in their semi-offical propaganda; in the cable series Weeds, produced by the loathsome Jenji Cohan, Denmark is depicted as a civil utopia.

Or, to be accurate, Sanders and Cohan depict a version of Denmark (and by extension the other northern European welfare states) that existed in in mid-seventies.

As Kevin Williamson notes, history is yet again leaving America “progressives” behind:

For those of you who are keeping score, the Heritage Foundation, which literally keeps score, rates Denmark’s economy as slightly more free – slightly more capitalistic — than that of the United States. Denmark is in a rough spot just lately, but it has been undergoing a series of deep and intelligent reforms to its welfare state (as have many of the other Northern European countries) to counteract the ill effects of earlier excesses.

Williamson also notes that the Danes, like the Swedes, pay for the goodies with a fairly crushing level of middle-class taxation – something that no American Democrat has the guts to admit; apparently we’ll have to pass their version of socialism to see what it costs us.

Doakes Sunday: Careful What You Wish For

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

In a comment to an earlier thread, Emery wrote:
“The free movement of capital.
The free movement of goods and services.
The free movement of ideas and media.
The free movement of people.
The protection of private property.
I’m not a starry-eyed idealist, but I like to think that there is a liberal ideal that we should keep our eyes on, not necessarily as a realistic objective for today, but as a goal to strive for.”
My response is that all that free movement stuff sounds great in theory but I’m wondering about it in practice.  I just poured myself a cup of coffee and dumped in a packet of sugar.  I haven’t stirred it, yet.  The sugar is  concentrated in a heap of sweetness on the bottom of the cup.  That’s America.  The coffee in the rest of the cup is bitter.  That’s the rest of the world.  If I stir the cup, the sweetness will be distributed everywhere, but that also means it will be diluted everywhere.  No one place will be super-sweet, all will be equally semi-sweet.
Wouldn’t free movement of people and money lead to the same result? If you took all the money in America and distributed it to people across the rest of the globe, they would be enriched but we would be impoverished.  If we fling open the borders to let everybody from everywhere in the world come here, will they add to the sweetness of America by bringing prosperity and stability or subtract from it by welfare and crime?
I can see why people in the bitter lands would want their lives to become sweeter.  I can’t see why people in the super-sweet lands would want their lives to become more bitter.  As I cannot be guaranteed the glorious result would obtain, a conservative would eschew the experiment.
Joe Doakes

Perverse incentives?  I get it.

Perverse wishes?  Not so much.

Hollow Democracy

As the Sanders candidacy – the 25% of the left that is the analog of the Trump audience in the GOP – continues to slurp up the attentions of our lazy media, it’s always instructive to be aware of the inevitable failure of democratically-elected socialism in our hemisphere.  Kevin Williamson runs down the dismal record and present of the Maduro regime in Venezuela, which has continued and extended the misery and repression of the Chavez years.

That’s all bad enough.


Maduro, like Chavez and all socialists before him, has been moving aggressively to control public opinion, banning opposition media and driving all dissent underground.

And while the dog is in Venezuela, the tail is here in America:

There is more to democratic legitimacy than open ballots truly counted. As the Founders of our own republic keenly appreciated, genuine democratic engagement requires an informed populace and open debate, thus the First Amendment’s protections, which extend not only to newspapers and political parties but also to ordinary citizens, despite the best efforts of Harry Reid and congressional Democrats to trample those rights. (They call this “campaign-finance reform,” on the theory that political communications more sophisticated than standing on a soapbox outside the Mall of America requires some sort of financial outlay.) But Venezuela has been for years cracking down on newspapers, radio stations, and television stations, even as the Maduro regime’s inspirations in Havana have been locking up outlaw . . . librarians.

Is it an accident that suddenly, the First Amendment is out of style on the left, with a whole generation of college students being raised to see speech as a controlled professional entitlement, the Obama Federal Communications and Elections Commissions constantly moving to control alternative media, using Homeland Security to demonize and the IRS to stifle dissent, and our nation’s chattering elite finding the First Amendment just too complicated for commoners?

“…And I’m Here to Help”

Joe Doakes from Como  Park emails:

When told the EPA broke open a retaining wall releasing 3 million gallons of toxic waste into the river but declared it safe two weeks later, the mine owner reportedly said “Well, hell, you didn’t need to do that for us; we could have done it ourselves.”
joe doakes

And for much less money, too.


Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Liberals in academia, government and tax-funded non-profit social agencies want everyone to live in rent-controlled apartments in densely populated cities, riding the train together and paying high taxes to support public expenses.  That’s what’s best for society so everyone should not only live that way, they should WANT to live that way: they should be Happy to Pay for a Better Minnesota.


So why do commercials stress the opposite?  Nobody advertises a new car by showing it stuck in traffic, it’s always sailing along an empty winding mountain road – zoom, zoom!  Travel companies stress the miles of open white beaches.  The slogan isn’t “Get Trampled In The Crowd” but instead is “Get Away From It All.”  Just you and possibly a loved one or two, enjoying the mountain streams, blue skies and wide open spaces by yourselves


I speculate that ad agencies who make a living selling products instead of extorting taxes understand that people do not want to live in hives, they want a little elbow room and are willing to pay for it, so that’s what they show in the ads.


Which is more likely to be wrong: millions of people deciding for themselves, or a few “experts” telling the rest of us how to live?


Now think about Hilary as President.


Joe Doakes

To a conservative, that’s a trick question.

To a liberal?  A grad school seminar.

There’s Just No Way…

…anybody could have predicted this: Seattle workers whose minimum wage has been jacked up to 15 bucks an hour…

…are now asking for fewer hours, so they don’t lose their housing subsidies.

Naturally, the artificially-high minimum wage was supposed to cut welfare dependency, blah blah blah.

So now we’ve got fewer jobs, and just watch – the program dependence is going to stay the same.


Bloomington residents are having the same “debate” that Maplewood residents had a while ago, and that Saint Paul residents barely manage to stave off, year over year; socialized trash collection.  In Saint Paul, every few years, a coalition of:

  • Environmentalists who think that having one truck go through your alley every week is better than having more than one truck go through your alley every week
  • NIMBAs (“Not in my back alley”) who for whatever reason are tormented by the number of trucks driving through their alleys at ugodly hours of the Midday
  • Big Government dweebs

…unites to try to jam down municipal garbage collection.

And it’s apparently go-time in Bloomington:

Those in favor most often cited the need to cut down on the number of trucks in the neighborhoods.

“Every Thursday morning my normally serene suburban home life is shattered by a steady caravan of heavy trucks,” wrote John Zimmerman. “Air brakes squeal, backup alarms chirp, and I lose track after the tenth truck has rolled through.”

Apparently John Zimmerman’s realtor told him he was moving to rural Iowa.

Bear in mind, Bloomington already has a semi-government-run system, doling out parts of the city to seven different haulers.  The city wants to go from picking seven winners to picking one:

The city still is negotiating with the seven haulers, but the most recent proposal would cost the average household $18.42 a month for trash and recycling pickup, said Public Works Director Karl Keel.

When the government wants to socialize a municipal service, the first number they give you is like that 3% interest rate on your credit card, or that first joint they give the grade school kids; it’s a teaser.  It will not last.

In  Maplewood, the rates may not have risen – but the “fees” tacked onto the rates certainly have.  The “winning” hauler also made the rate by supplying cheap trash carts that fell apart after a year, cutting corners on customer service, and other “savings” that, in a free market, you don’t have to tolerate.

I pay $20 a month, fees and all, to a ma and pa company that calls me if I forget a  payment, picks up extra stuff without any muss and fuss, and always answers the phone on the second ring.

Think you’ll get that with one big municipal service?

Opportunity Dumps:  If you’re a Bloomington Republican, here’s a classic example of a local issue that your candidates can use to set themselves apart from the incumbents (who, on the Bloomington City Council, favor the proposal 6-1).  Yes, it’s early.  No, it’s it’s not early enough.  If you’re thinking about being a conservative candidate for Bloomington City Council, you should be out there on the barricades today.

(And if you’re a “liberty” supporter?  Helping the people win this battle would convince a lot more people that you’re not just a bunch of white frat boys wallowing in an echo chamber eating chicken wings and listening to each other argue about who’s the biggest Austrian-schooler).


Currently, Bloomington’s 26,000 households pay an average of $26.72 a month. Keel estimated that city residents would save about $13 million over a five-year hauling contract.


Many residents have pointed out that by negotiating with different haulers, they’ve been able to get extremely low rates. Council Member Tim Busse was skeptical of some claims.

“I’d like to meet the residents who are getting their trash [picked up] for 10 bucks a month,” Busse said. “I want to take you with me the next time I buy a car. That’s some pretty good negotiating.”

In the end, the council voted 6-1 to continue negotiating the single-hauler deal, with only Cynthia Bemis Abrams opposing. A public hearing will be held before a final decision is made.

To Be Fair, You Were Warned

Seattle minimum wage workers discover exactly what everyone has been telling them about huge minimum wage hikes all along; they destroy jobs.  Their jobs.


Pizza shop worker Devin Jeran was excited about the raise that was coming his way thanks to Seattle’s new $15 an hour minimum wage law. Or at least he was until he found out that it would cost him his job.
Jeran will only see a bigger paycheck until August when his boss has to shut down her Z Pizza location, putting him and his 11 co-workers out of work, Q13 Fox reported.

Oh, Devin. If you’re getting your news from the mainstream media, you will always be a naif lost in the woods. Shake it off, champ.

Does this sound familiar (emphasis added):

He said that while the law was being discussed all he heard about was how the mandatory minimum wage increase would make life better for him, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
“If that’s the truth, I don’t think that’s very apparent. People like me are finding themselves in a tougher situation than ever,” he told the TV station.
Owner Ritu Shah Burnham said she just can’t afford the city’s mandated wage hikes.
“I’ve let one person go since April 1, I’ve cut hours since April 1, I’ve taken them myself because I don’t pay myself,” she told Q13. “I’ve also raised my prices a little bit, there’s no other way to do it.”

And “Z” is a nationwide franchise that takes some on some of the local franchises’ ad costs (and makes excellent pizza, if you’re ever in Roseville).

Small businesses in Seattle have up to six more years to phase in the new $15 an hour minimum wage, but even though she only has 12 employees, Z pizza counts as part of a “large business franchise.” As a result, she is on a sped up timeline to implement the full raise.

The left’s contempt for business – counting all franchisees’ employees together is pretty contemptible – has to start harming them eventually, doesn’t it?

Shah Burnham said that she is “terrified” for her employees after she closes up shop.
“I have no idea where they’re going to find jobs, because if I’m cutting hours, I imagine everyone is across the board,” she said.
The organization that pushed for the higher minimum wage, 15 Now Seattle, wouldn’t comment directly on the closing to Q13 and didn’t offer any sign of sympathy.

When I read stories like this, I wonder – perhaps some of the people who agitate for minimum wage hikes can help the displaced workers find new jobs?  Maybe that union booth at the State Fair that hands out all the “Living Wage” agitprop can devote some time to the task?

“Restaurants open and close all the time, for various reasons,” Director Jess Spear said.

I guess that’s a “no”.


Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Federal debt has stopped going up. It’s stayed the same for three weeks.

 Well, maybe. Federal debt subject to the debt limit law has stopped increasing. Makes me wonder: does that mean the government stopped borrowing money to meet its obligations, or that it’s simply borrowing the money “off-book?” I’m suspicious.

If government can operate with the debt frozen and we simply froze the debt at that number for the next 100 years, inflation would turn it into a trivial amount. Can the solution to overspending really be that easy?

Joe Doakes

I’m going to guess the Fed just lost the emails for the past three weeks’ debt numbers.

Chicago: Going Greek?

After four years under firmer Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Chicago has run up an absolute mountain of debt, and is among the ranks of cities that could easily go bankrupt in the near future.

So naturally, inveterate democrat Chicago voters appear likely to go the Greek route, and kick the physical can down the road even further, appearing to favor someone even further to the left:

Three weeks remain before the April 7 runoff between Emanuel and Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, a Cook County commissioner and fellow Democrat whose candidacy is the vehicle for grievances against the mayor and his efforts to steer the city away from insolvency. Chicago has $20 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, a school system deep in deficit and a credit rating dropping toward junk. It’s in danger of being overwhelmed by debt unless it embraces onerous solutions that probably would include retirement benefit cuts and tax increases.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen such financial uncertainty and so many moving parts all going on at once, and no one wanting to blink first by saying what he’s going to do about it,” said Donald Haider, a former Chicago finance director who ran for mayor in 1987.

Of course, they have to walk a very fine line; essentially, both have to campaign on who’s willing to be the most brazen about waiting for a federal bailout, without actually saying it.

Smarter Than Our Leaders

Back during the 2008 presidential campaign, John McCain was right about one thing, anyway; despite all of governments foul-ups the fundamentals of the American economy are basically strong.

We have ideas, and entrepreneurial energy, I don’t labor force that (2008 and 2012 elections not withstanding) we’re pretty smart and capable, and one of the worlds larger, wealthier consumer markets. Those, among other things, give the American economy’s a degree of resilience that is going to be hard to extinguish, even after 14 years of flagrant overspending and six years of crypto-socialism.

That’s the economy. Not the governments massive piling up of debt. That’s a whole ‘nother thing.

Why does it matter? Because the fact that the American private market is bigger, stronger, and smarter than its government – for now – may be the only thing that saved it from complete collapse six years ago.

Kill It Dead

Representative Mary Franson, GOP from Alexandria, is making the first move toward repealing the forced unionization of childcare and homecare providers:

… Rep. Mary Franson (R-Alexandria), a former childcare provider, introduced legislation – known as the “Hands Off Child Care Act” – that would repeal the childcare unionization law of 2013.

“The vast majority of childcare providers do not want be forced into a union,” said Franson. “Given the high costs of childcare in Minnesota, this legislation will help alleviate costs that unionization would bring providers, moms, and dads.”

It’s worth noting that Minnesota already had some of the highest childcare costs in the United States – considerably higher than our other costs and standards of living, before the DFL, working at the behest of the SEIU and AFSCME, jammed down the unionize Asian of providers in the 2013 session.

“But wait!”, You might say, “the DFL controls the Senate, and Mark Dayton is still the governor!”

And you to be right. Mark Dayton doesn’t take a dump without his union benefactors’ okay.

But this bill will get votes on the record, assuming it gets out of committee. And that’s with the GOP majority in the house needs to do; get lots of damning votes to associate with lots of DFLers on these bread-and-butter issues.


As the media relentlessly chants about “economic recovery”, at least one article (from the AP) notes that those “new jobs” aren’t really doing much for the lower-middle-class – people who may be doing OK on the surface, but are only a missed paycheck or two away from depending on someone else.

And it’s worth noting that every previous sharp recession – like 1982 – had a correspondingly sharp rebound; within two years of the bottom of that recession, the economy was adding 500,000 jobs a month.

The 2007 recession was, along with the Great Depression, part of a tiny, exclusive club; sharp corrections that didn’t bounce back fast – as in, almost like an inverted bell curve.  And what did they have in common?

Govenment efforts to “help”.

The Proverbial Frog In A Pan

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails in re a recent Powerline article:

“Mandatory” [spending] does not include defense, it covers things the government must spend because people are entitled to them: i.e., welfare, medicare, social security, etc.


Entitlements are the big growth. Not a surprise. For my wife and me, it’s $22,000 worth. That’s an eye opener.

Joe Doakes

It’s amazing how conservatives can warn people about something for six years, and it can still be a surprise, even to smart people, how bad it actually is.

Getting Ahead By Staying Behind

Walmart stores in 21 states are taking money away from salaries normally paid to higher skilled workers – including those who work their way up from minimum-wage – to pay for minimum wage hikes:

The new laws have prompted Wal-Mart to adjust the minimum premium paid to its higher-skilled employees and combine its lowest three pay grades, Reuters reported Wednesday

Sapping initiative to pay for feel good social canoodling?

All is proceeding according to plan.

Settled Pseudoscience

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Another flawed, biased, incorrect study by big-shot economists proving the raising the minimum wagehurts poor people most.

Clearly deniers.  Won’t admit settled science.  Overwhelming consensus of experts in the field.  Like Hilary.

Joe Doakes

Like – what was Nick Coleman’s version of it?  Like peasants attacking the observatory with pitchforks and torches?

Mandated Equality

Two truisms at play in this story:

  1. If someone has to mandate your equal outcome [*], then you probably really aren’t equal.
  2. Economics 101:  Forcing people to pay more or less for a good or service than they naturally would will distort the market.  Force the price up, and you’ll get a black market.  Force the price down, and you’ll get less of the good or service.

With that in mind, see if you can see both currents in this piece, about developers in NYC and their reaction to being forced (as a condition of a bailout) to include “Market-Rate rentals” which are, in fact, well below the market rate.

A Queens luxury tower that was bailed out by the city is blocking the large terraces of a few affordable units so tenants above with tiny balconies don’t get jealous, one resident claims.

Erin McFadzen chose her middle-income — and rent-stabilized — corner apartment at Long Island City’s new Q41 building because of its wrap-around terrace.

But when she moved in, half of it was fenced off by what she calls a “Jurassic Park”-style barricade.

The ugly 6-foot-high wire barrier also interferes with views from every window of her sixth-floor, $2,186-a-month pad.

“We’re caged in,” McFadzen told The Post.

“Every time someone comes over, I have to explain why the fence is there . . . and tell them we’re rent stabilized, like it’s a badge I have to wear,” she said.

And the tenants aren’t the only innumerate ones; the developers (read the story, for crying out loud) are just as bad.

The innumeracy washes over us in waves in this piece:

  1. Rent Control/Rent Subsidy (as well as the city’s systematic demonization of landlords, much as Minneapolis and Saint Paul are doing, although not nearly as effectively as NYC does – yet) is exactly why it’s impossible to find an affordable apartment in NYC.  “If you make a good or service worth less than it would naturally be, there will be less of it”.
  2. The city shouldn’t be bailing out failed developers – so the developers shouldn’t be complaining that the bailout comes with strings attached requiring them to include rentals for much lower rates than the market would ordinarily bear.
  3. Real estate in New York being as much about image as value, the “low-income” tenants shouldn’t be surprised that the developers are doing something to give the residents paying the actual market rates some sense that they’re getting something justifying the premium that they’re paying for the upscale places they’re renting.  And in that case, that means making the the full-rent balconies a better deal than the cut-rate ones.  Even just by the seemingly bitchy means they used.

If governnment has to make you equal, you’re probably not.

[*] Civil rights legislation is, of course, not an example of this; civil rights and liberties are not given to us by a landlord, but by our creator.  Nobody can justly take them away.  Housing is not a right – much less a specific class of housing for a specific price.

Reasons To Raise The Minimum Wage

[SCENE:  John “FUZZY” Premisse, age 45, steps out behind a Burger King on a grimy industrial boulevard.  He is paunchy, his hairline a distant memory.  His face, doughy from decades of blue-collar food, is criss-crossed with stress lines.  In the background, the smokestacks of a high-tech incubator park belch smoke into the night sky, the glow of the open code hearth lending a faint glow to the background as he lights a cigarette.  ]

[FUZZY is joined by a much younger man.  It is  his son, Luke “STRETCH” Premisse.  Stretch, age 21, bums a cigarette off his father.  As he lights the cigarette, we see spatter burns on his forearms, accrued through hard years on the deep frier]

STRETCH:  [takes a puff] Busy night. 

FUZZY:  [Takes a long puff, holds it, lets it go slowly]  They’re all busy, in their own way.  [Stares into the distance

STRETCH:  Yeah.  Hey, Dad?  That guy who was talking with Erica the assistant manager?  Who was that?

FUZZY:  [Scowls, with an air of contempt] Pfffft.  Sheee-*t.  Buddy. 

STRETCH:  Buddy?

FUZZY:  Buddy Dayusexmachina. 

STRETCH:  Seems like a nice guy.

FUZZY:  [Spits with contempt]  Sh*t.  He’s a f****ng “earner”.

STRETCH:  “Earner?”

FUZZY:  Someone who earns more than minimum wage. 

STRETCH: Huh.  [Takes a puff on hiscigarette].      

FUZZY:  [also takes a puff].

STRETCH:  So – that’s a bad thing?

FUZZY:  [Looks at his son with an air of alarmed]  What?

STRETCH:  So he earns more than minimum wage.  That’s a bad thing?

FUZZY: [Alarm turns to comtempt].  What the hell?  Is that how I raised you? 

STRETCH:  [Takes a puff, flicks his cigarette, stands a little straighter]  What do you mean?

FUZZY:  We’re minimum wage earners.  My grandfather earned $.35 an hour at a burger joint in the forties.  My father before me?  He started at a buck and a quarter at this same Burger King, back in 1965.  Nineteen Sixty Five!  And he worked away, stayed at that minimum wage, til the day he died at the drive-thru.  I started here in 1983 – I made $3.35 an hour.  Flippin’ burgers, just like you do today!  You probably don’t even remember back in 1997, when Bill Clinton raised the minimum from $4.25 to $5.15.  You were just a baby.  But it was one of the proudest days of my life!

STRETCH:  But…why?

FUZZY:  [Steps aggressively toward his son]  Because the minimum wage got raised!

STRETCH:  Yeah, but…so?

FUZZY:  It’s how our life gets better.  When the minimum wage goes up, we get more money.  How f****ng hard is it? 

STRETCH:  Right.  I get that.  We’re the Premisses; the best burger flippers, frier operators and shake-pourers in the Valley. 

FUZZY:  Damn straight.  [Takes another puff]

STRETCH:  OK…well…Mister Dayusexmachina says that if I learn to run the scheduling system and how to count tills, I could move up to assistant manager.  That’d jack my pay up to $12.50…

FUZZY:  [Drops cigarette in shock, turns on son in muted menace]  What did you just say? 

STRETCH:  They said I could move up…

FUZZY:  [walks closer to son, rage building]  I hear what you said.  You wanna “move up”.  Is that how I raised you?   

STRETCH:  Er…what do you mean?

FUZZY:  We earn minimum wage.  You do.  I do.  My daddy did.  So did his daddy.  That’s what we do.  We’re the Premisses!

STRETCH: But – this would be more than minimum wage…

FUZZY:  [looks son in the eye] Mark Dayton just raised the minimum wage.  We all just got raises. 

STRETCH:  Yeah, but this is even more?

FUZZY:  What are you?  Getting all “too good for minimum wage?”  Going out and “learning new skills” to “get pay raises” and “move ahead in life” without waiting for the Feds to raise it for you? 


FUZZY:  You think you’re too good for the minimum wage life?  The life that was good enough for your father, and his father, and his father? 

STRETCH:  It has nothing to do with being “too good”.  It’s just that I know how to use the computer, and that other assistant manager Shaylene got fired for dealing pot out of the bathroom, and…

FUZZY: You look at me, son.  Look at me!  Other people may “learn skills” and “move up”.  And some of them “screw up” and “move down”.   But we Premisses?  We are always here.  Reliable.  We do the jobs nobody else wants to.  And we’re the best at them. 

[Javier AMARILLO, President of the local SEIU chapter, steps into the frame and addresses the camera]

AMARILLO:  What we’ve seen here is why America needs to raise the minimum wage.  Because all across this great but racist and deeply flawed nation, hundreds of millions of hard-working Americans have chosen not to learn more marketable job skills, to better themselves, and to go to the job market without skills or education that would give them a skill that anyone would pay for.  Many of them, raised in a public school system that taught grievance-mongering and neglected hard work and striving to better oneself, have no concept of the idea that “bettering oneself” is not an entitlement, but a personal responsibility. 

And it’s for these hundreds of millions of Americans that we need to raise the minimum wage. 

So please join me in demanding your congressperson demand a raise to the federal minimum wage!  

FUZZY:  Hey, it’s Javier Amarillo, of the SEIU!  When are you going to organize fast-food workers?

AMARILLO: [Smiling blandly]  You don’t exist to me. 

STRETCH:  Do you make minimum wage?

AMARILLO:  As if.  I make $187,000 a year plus perks.  I drive a BMW.  I haven’t eaten at a “Burger King” in 20 years.  Get back to work, as****es.    I’ve got to get to a dinner meeting with Tina Flint Smith. 

[And SCENE, as a Pete Seeger song plays dimly in the background]