In The News

By Jim Hagarty

The Bare Minimum
Some people in the U.S. are alarmed at the called for a $15 minimum wage although it has actually been brought in in a few places and the earth hasn’t opened up and swallowed anyone. The truth is, if the minimum wage had kept pace with everything else over the years, it would be well into the $20 range.

Consider these facts.

In 1968, the minimum wage was $1.60. That’s $10.71 in 2013 dollars.
In 1976, the minimum wage was $2.30. That’s $9.42 in 2013 dollars.
In 1983, the minimum wage was $3.35. That’s $7.84 in 2013 dollars.
In 1991, the minimum wage was $4.25. That’s $7.27 in 2013 dollars.
In 1997, the minimum wage was $5.55. That’s $7.47 in 2013 dollars.
In 2012, the minimum wage was $7.25. That’s $7.36 in 2013 dollars.
In 2014, the minimum wage was $7.25. That’s $7.22 in 2013 dollars.
In 2015, the minimum wage was $7.25. That’s $7.03 in 2013 dollars.

The minimum wage has gone down by $3.68 or 34% since Richard Nixon was elected.

I don’t have the figures in front of me, but the other side of the equation is the rapid rise in the wealth created for those at the top over the same period. Off the top of my head, where the CEO in the ’60s might have made 25 times the amount earned by the lowest wage earner he employed, that figure now can be as high as several hundred times as much. In effect, those should be called maximum wages and no one complains about them.

Politicians and business people are shocked at the anger being expressed by voters these days. But should they be? With politicians like Paul Ryan scheming to destroy the meager safety nets that are in place, they seem intent on lighting the fuse.

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No Tennis Balls Allowed
Please count me among the people of the world who are very confused. How could up be so down? The authorities in Cleveland have cracked down in advance of the Republican National Convention opening in their city next week. They are getting tough. People who mill about outside the convention centre during the almost week-long event will not be able to have on their persons the following: Water guns, toy guns, aerosol cans, knives, rope, tennis balls.

One item that is not on the list, however, are real guns. Oh yes, those things that kill people. Bring all you want. And they will. Neo Nazis, Black Panthers, KKK, Promise Keepers … They will all be there, guns at the ready. There may be a few slayings, yes, but at least no one will be taken out by one of those dangerous tennis balls. Or water guns. And toy guns are the worst.

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News from the State Department
This winter Donald J. Trump has piled up a lot of wins in the various state primaries in his quest to be the Republican nominee for the presidency this fall. In two weeks, he will be officially named the candidate at a big convention. Recently he captured the most delegates in the State of Emergency. He followed that up with a win in the State of Affairs, and the State of Shock. He also won hands-down in the Psychotic State. He might have been, however, in over his head in the State of Mind. However, he could take a wrecking ball to the State of the Nation. And all of these victories could portend a big win for the Islamic State. More news at eleven.


Kissin’ Cousins and Shooting

Gun-loving right-wing nutjobs in the United States are out of control. We have them in Canada too. They are promoting the insane idea that not until every single person in the country is armed with a gun, will citizens be truly safe.

You go to church. There are 300 people in attendance. All 300, including the children – why leave the children defenceless? – and the pastor and the choir members are armed and ready to start blasting away. At the shopping mall, all 2,000 people are carrying a gun. In the movie theatre, all 500 movie lovers are armed and ready to take out an intruder. These guns all need to be loaded or they are useless. You don’t turn off your phone when you are expecting a call. The guns all need to have their safety features disabled. They all need to be ready to be activated at a moment’s notice.

I am outside hanging up my laundry. But I have left my gun in the garage. A terrorist or simple madman hops my fence and comes at me. Boom, I’m dead. So I need to carry my gun absolutely everywhere I go. Just as I already do with my cellphone. I will need a holster. With my phone, I already become frantic if I am in the shower and it is on the kitchen table. With the right-wing call for omnipresent arms, I will not even be able to take the risk of leaving my pistol on the bathroom sink. That is six feet away. A terrorist/madman could easily break into the bathroom and before I can get to the sink, boom, I’m dead. Water-resistant guns are the only answer. I need to be able to carry it with me into the shower and into every other place I go. Otherwise, I am a sitting duck.

This is all, of course, in response to another mass shooting, this one the worst in U.S. history. In 1996, Australia suffered its worst mass shooting. Thirty-five died. This followed years of mass shootings with dozens killed. The right-wing government got tough. Brought in comprehensive, strict gun laws and bans on certain weapons. There have been no mass shootings in Australia since 1996. That is the way non-crazy people do it. It is working. Crazy and evil are often kissin’ cousins. Shootin’ cousins too.


Time for a Shake Up

I have been fired a few times in my life. In only one of those cases, was the firing unjustified. The other times, I could see on reflection, I fired myself. A suicide by cop sort of situation. This happens more than we know. You can’t work up the courage to quit, so you get the boss to help you out the door. This has various advantages, none of them very honourable. But at least you have brought the pain and madness to an end and you can blame your unemployment on somebody else.

No psychologist am I, but it seems to me Donald Trump is begging to be fired. He is mot a happy camper. The Republican convention is coming up. He knows this is pretty much the last chance his party will have to get rid of him. He is begging for them to do it. He is becoming unhinged and when his latest outrageousness doesn’t bring down the hammer, he doubles down. He is giving his party no choice. They have to fire him. He wants it. The American pulic wants it. The workd wants it. The world needs it. But who will bell the cat? He is surrounded by mice. Sormebody has to step up and squeak loudly. It may be the last political thing that mouse ever does. He or she will be a hero. Secretly, even Trump will thank that person.

Suicide by GOP.


Let’s Hear from “Joe” in Montana

Right-wing hate radio hosts in the U.S. go nuts when they are referred to as just entertainers. They like their listeners to think of them as serious journalists, speaking truth to power and bringing conservative perspectives on major issues to light. This sounds reasonable on their part except for this fact. Some of these shows make use of a company which provides talk radio with “callers” who are essentially paid actors who phone in to praise the host and to ask the host set-up questions that allow him to then take off on his favourite left-wing punching bag of the day. The radio stations actually pay this company for this service.

So the next time you hear an angry caller to a talk show ranting on about how terrible President Obama and all Democrats are, keep in mind there is a good chance that caller doesn’t hold those beliefs at all but is collecting a paycheque for pretending to be an enraged “ordinary” citizen. How sinister is that, given that most listeners have no idea this is happening?


Getting their Diapers in a Bunch

Here is an interesting potential twist. In light of Donald Trump’s recent meltdowns and screwups on the presidential election campaign trail, Republicans are wetting their pants and not even bothering to go home for clean underwear as they know they will probably just wet them again an hour later. Donald Diapers are selling like hotcakes.

Now, some of the “endorsers” of the Orange One are starting to “unendorse.” They will be as successful as the young person trying to get their virginity back. In both cases, the guilty parties are screwed and can’t be unscrewed. Or can they?

There is a bit of talk now that at the upcoming Republican convention, delegates might be declared “unbound” on the very first ballot, and allowed to vote however they like. This would mean that Trump would ride into the convention with potentially none of the delegates that were pledged to vote for him on the first ballot. Of course, hundreds still would, but if enough of them were to peel away and abstain or vote for a Cruz or a Rubio or a Kasich, the Donald might not accumulate enough delegates on the first ballot to secure the nomination outright.

It is not likely to happen. It would have to be the first order of business at the convention. A revolution might occur. But it just might be the best way for the party to save a lot of money it would have spent on the free distribution of Donald Diapers. And for once, Donald might have to slip on a pair of his own.


Exit, Stage Right

Here’s a bold prediction I have been making for a while. Donald J. Trump’s name will not appear on the ballot for U.S. president in November’s election. The brash businessman turned politician is 69 and seriously sleep deprived. And there are studies on narcissistic personality disorder which suit Trump to a tee and which seem to show that the one and biggest thing an extreme narcissist cannot tolerate happening is defeat. His fragile personality cannot handle it. He will take whatever measures are necessary to avoid it.

It is entirely possible that Trump will lead his party to the worst electoral defeat in their history. Whereas, he might be able to get by with a squeaker of a loss, to be known as the man who killed the Republicans for a generation will not be tolerable. He is brash but not stupid. He will see it coming.

Others have predicted this: When the going gets too tough, he will fabricate some reason to drop out of the race. It is a real possibility. He is obviously not having a great time. If nothing else, Good Time Charlies don’t like not having a good time. I might be dreaming. But nothing about Trump is very predictable. And nothing he does will surprise.


Absence of Malice

We had an interesting national election in Canada last fall.
Voters were offered a choice of three parties, two of which dominated the affair. The one party, which had governed our country for almost 10 years, was offering malice. The competing party, in third place when the election was called, took a totally different approach. They offered us a government free of malice. In the ensuing vote, the third party crushed the party of malice.

I don’t know how the election for president will turn out in the United States. But if I was eligible to vote, it would be an easy call for me. I would just refer to my handy dandy Malice Meter and then pull the lever, or however you do it down there. I would rather have a government make mistakes while pursuing an agenda based on goodwill than one that did a few right things for some very wrong reasons. I would choose the Absence of Malice Party. It is the only way forward. And the way forward is the only way it is ever possible to go.

In politics, as in life, there is no going back. Ever.