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Not a good day for Albuquerque - 1370°C

Oct. 5th, 2005

08:28 am - Not a good day for Albuquerque

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Among other things, the Living Wage proposition (to raise the city's minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.50) was defeated by 1479 votes. {sigh}

Campaign finance reform passed, as did voter ID, all of the bonds seem to have gone through, and Chavez stays on as Mayor. Only about 80k people voted in a city of more than 400k. They were expecting apathetic voter turnout, but were somewhat hopeful, as 50k new people (mostly young liberals) registered to vote in Abq during the last presidential election. Guess people really do have to be terribly unhappy or pissed off to bother voting.

***edit***


The other day, i was wondering about the notion of nominating a new Chief Justice to the Supreme Court from scratch, rather than elevating one of the existing justices. Rather than just ask _goodmanbrown_ who i'm sure knew all about this already, i found this interesting tidbit on Wikipedia:

"Some Chief Justices, like William H. Rehnquist, were elevated by the President after having served previously on the bench as an Associate Justice. Justices who are elevated to the position of Chief Justice from that of Associate Justice must again be confirmed by the Senate (a rejection by the Senate, however, does not end their tenure as an Associate Justice; it merely precludes them from serving as Chief Justice). Most Chief Justices, including Roberts, are nominated to the highest position on the Court without any previous experience on the Court; indeed some, like John Marshall and Earl Warren, without any prior judicial experience."

So, it seems at least a partial answer to the question of "why?" is that it would add an extra Senate confirmation hearing, which would be a pain. However, i'm still thinking whiskey tango foxtrot about the idea that you'd want to make someone with no experience the most senior member of our highest court automatically.

For those of you wondering what else the Chief Justice does, his position-specific responsiblities are (paraphrased or nicked from Wikipedia as well):

-If the Chief Justice is in the majority on a vote, he decides who will write the Opinion of the Court. He can do this himself or assign it to someone else.

-Chairs the conferences where cases are discussed and voted on by the Justices. The Chief Justice normally speaks first, and so has great influence in framing the discussion.

-Presides during impeachements of the President (or the VP if the VP is Acting President at the time, but this has never happened).

-Administers the oath of office at the inauguration of the President(by tradition rather than law).

-Serves as the Chancellor of the Smithsonian Institution. [I had no idea.]

-Serves as the head of the Judicial Conference of the United States, the chief administrative body of the U.S. federal courts.

-Appoints the members of the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (or FISC), a "secret court" which oversees requests for surveillance warrants by federal police agencies (primarily the F.B.I.) against suspected foreign intelligence agents inside the United States.


Finally, for my Irish-speaking mates, did you know that you can get Wikipedia as Gaeilge?

Comments:

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From:luvcraft
Date:October 5th, 2005 07:52 am (UTC)
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poop.

Also, the Voter ID thingy passed by a huge majority, which is also sad.

http://www.krqe.com/election/
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From:ferrousoxide
Date:October 5th, 2005 07:59 am (UTC)
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Yeah. "Let's address a virtually non-existant problem in the city with a measure that is seriously partisan." Bah, i say.
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From:killbox
Date:October 5th, 2005 09:36 am (UTC)
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yah, im interested in seeing how many 100's of times more percent of the population vote in iraq verses here in abq

I do blame the last presidential election for turning off many of those newly registered voters leaving them to think that voting really does not work. unfortunately most people don't realize how the local elections matter more (and their vote has a higher statistical weight too)

*sigh* atleast im just not mildly annoyed today.. not crushed..

p.s. if you look at the vote totals you can see who did a good job of ramming absentee ballots down their supporter's throats.. (its handy having lots of cash)
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From:gothicfurby
Date:October 5th, 2005 11:00 am (UTC)
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Wikipedia as Gaeilge? Thar barr!!! ;)
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From:gothicfurby
Date:October 5th, 2005 11:02 am (UTC)
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Its probably going to be that nasty "book irish" tho that no one speaks :(
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From:ferrousoxide
Date:October 5th, 2005 11:46 am (UTC)
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I think the most basic and easiest to throw out objection to this is that people who make more money (particularly, according to statistics, low-income types) spend their extra money, rather than saving it. I'm not an economist by any stretch, but it seems to me that if the money that businesses are spending on a higher wage goes directly back into those businesses in the form of higher spending, it may just balance out.

I also wonder if it's possible for inflation to increase at even close to the same rate that they wanted to increase the minimum wage. This increase is about, what? 45%? I can't see the price of hamburgers at my local McDonalds going up by that rate, and i reckon people should be willing to pay a few percent more for their already way-cheap Walmart goods in exchange for seriously upping the quality of life for their fellow man.

Finally, if you check stats on other locations that have a living wage (like Santa Fe, for instance) the negative effects that opponents point to just don't seem to actually happen.
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From:killbox
Date:October 5th, 2005 12:16 pm (UTC)
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i never did read the full text of the proposition, but the summary information indicated lots of loopholes. which i think leveled the playing field a bit for the small businesses (under 10 people), (it did mean that if you were employed by one of those small businesses (i have my whole life) the full benefit would not be direct (but if you can turn to your boss and say uh, id be making more at wallyworld, that gives you some ammunition to request a raze))

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From:moonsail
Date:October 5th, 2005 01:21 pm (UTC)
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As someone who has a roomy who needs a job I feel that a higher minimum wage would definately be called for. Also, minimum wage in NM really sucks. Most states have a higher one. Utah had $5.15/hour... in '95!
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From:elvendude
Date:October 5th, 2005 07:04 pm (UTC)
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Granted, most of those types of things will not change. The price of McD's burger is pretty standardized nationwide. However, the price of housing is what worries me. Look at the housing situation in Santa Fe vs ABQ. That would be my biggest concern.

My other concern would be the scaling of wages that are already in place. I don't see most corporate entities scaling the wage of those who are already, say, 75% above minimum. That puts them back at near minimum should the increase take effect. This would probably be eventually balanced, but I think they would take a hit while the bottom rung would take that chunk. But you do make a good point about that: in exchange for seriously upping the quality of life for their fellow man.
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From:ilcylic
Date:October 5th, 2005 07:41 pm (UTC)
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No, it doesn't neccesarily increase the cost of goods that much, but it does reduce the number of legal jobs available. If a business can afford N workers at X pay, and pay is arbitrarily increased by an outside factor (such as, say, a minimum wage law) to Y, then suddenly our business can only afford P employees, where P = N * (X / Y).

All of which is completely beside the point that voters have no legitimate authority to dictate the relationship between employers and employees.

-Ogre
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From:ferrousoxide
Date:October 5th, 2005 08:29 pm (UTC)
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Actually, in regards to your first objection, all of the statistics for other places with minimum wage increases had lots of job growth after the minimum increased. Not saying it's a direct result or anything, but there was no evidence of employers scaling back positions as a result.
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From:_goodmanbrown_
Date:October 6th, 2005 09:35 am (UTC)
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There is little question in my mind that it is a direct result. The more money there is in the market, the more opportunities business have to sell stuff.
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From:ad_radian
Date:October 5th, 2005 10:24 pm (UTC)

And

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The percentage of citizens on welfare has gone down in cities with a living wage.
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From:_goodmanbrown_
Date:October 6th, 2005 09:32 am (UTC)
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P = NX/Y assumes an unsupportable ceteris paribus clause. Most minimum wage employees are employed by massive corporations. (Most small business do much better by their employees.) In an era in which CEOs and the top echelons of most major corporations are being paid orders of magnitude more than they are worth, there is enough elasticity in the system that a small contraction in exuctive pay could cover what is really a minor wage increase for the worst off.

There are plenty of other sources of elasticity. Plus, a minimum wage increase puts more money in the hands of people who need to spent it, which means a lot more money into the market, instead of piling up in executive portfolios. This creates lots of jobs and leads to a generally healthier economy. We can see this happen, as ad_radian notes, below. Minimum wage increases drive people off of welfare roles.
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From:gothaminserenia
Date:October 6th, 2005 11:21 pm (UTC)
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C'mon man! Where's your response to all these naysayers? You know you're right. Fight for what you believe! ;-)
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From:gothaminserenia
Date:October 5th, 2005 09:49 pm (UTC)
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the Living Wage proposition (to raise the city's minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.50) was defeated by 1479 votes. {sigh}

As you might expect, I disagree with your sentiment on this issue.

Now I'd love to vote myself a pay increase, just as much as I'd like to vote myself a nicer apartment, a better car, or a free new music collection. And while I might receive a benefit from this type of policy, that doesn't mean others in society would benefit.

Minimum wage laws hurt those at the bottom of the ecomonic ladder most. How so? Well, when the government forces employers to pay workers $7.50/hr for $5.15/hr work, this encourages those employers to find alternatives. For one, it encourages employers to automate. When employers must pay apple-pickers artificially high wages, it encourages them to find or build apple-picking equipment, ultimately leading to all those apple-pickers becoming unemployed. For those workers who remain, employers will typically try to make them work longer, faster, & harder than they did before. And when the government artificially raises costs in one area (i.e. by raising minimum wages), it necessarily hurts those involved in that area: both the business owners (who are forced to pay more for the same service) & anyone who works for those businesses (who are typically driven out of employment). Furthermore, in cases where increased wage costs end up translating into increased product costs, this hurts consumers, who must pay more than they might otherwise would've, and therefore, they have less money available to spend on other areas they might need it for, such as paying medical bills, saving up for school, or just having extra money available to have fun & enjoy life once in a while.

A wage is a "fair wage" if an employee voluntarily agrees to work for it & an employer voluntarily agrees to pay it. Period! And if somebody in a government office, or a bunch of people walking into voting booths, should try to stick their fingers in & meddle with this arrangement, which is none of their business, then this is simply arrogance. Those who try to interfere with employer/worker agreements by proposing new laws, and those who try to interfere with foreign cultures by sending in the Army, get the same level of contempt from me.

I once earned $3.25/hr at low-skill jobs. I didn't complain about how "unfair" it was. Nor did I find it "unliveable" (I lived with my parents at the time). Indeed, it helped me save up for college & gave me valuable work experience which I cited later on when I applied for higher-level positions. I really don't understand how it would help society to pull the bottom rung of the ecomonic ladder even further out of the grasp of those who are poor or just starting out.

I also wonder if it's possible for inflation to increase at even close to the same rate that they wanted to increase the minimum wage. This increase is about, what? 45%?

Inflation has nothing to do with wages. Inflation is the rate at which the government (through the Federal Reserve) prints new paper currency, thus diluting the value of existing currency ... usually causing wages & prices to increase in an attempt to compensate for this loss of value. When wage & price increases occur (those not caused by government edict), these are the effects of inflation.

And when wage & price increases do occur due to government edict, it simply favors one industry & group of people, at the expense of another ... someone gets a free ride, while someone else gets screwed.
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From:_goodmanbrown_
Date:October 6th, 2005 10:02 am (UTC)
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I assume if I hold a gun to your head and tell you to take a $5.15/hr job or die, that you have not voluntarily agreed to take the job.

Why would you suppose that the case is different when the consequences of failing to take the job are not a bullet in the head, but rather eviction, destitution, hunger, social ostracism, and cold?

People take jobs that are viciously unfair because they are compelled to by their circumstances, rather than me and my gun. The mere fact that an employer and an employee have entered into an agreement provides exactly no evidence that the agreement is fair.
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From:gothaminserenia
Date:October 6th, 2005 11:02 pm (UTC)
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I assume if I hold a gun to your head and tell you to take a $5.15/hr job or die, that you have not voluntarily agreed to take the job. Why would you suppose that the case is different when the consequences of failing to take the job are not a bullet in the head, but rather eviction, destitution, hunger, social ostracism, and cold?

Well, if someone pulled a weapon on you, then it is a crime. And I would hope you've taken a self-defense class, or have a pistol on you with which you could defend yourself.

People have many options where their lifestyle is concerned, since everyone ultimately has control over both their income & expenses (as elaborated in my response to ferrousoxide below).

Eviction would not be pleasant ... but then again, that person shouldn't have agreed to live someplace where the rent costs exceed what their income could handle ... or else they shouldn't have accepted a job that was inadequate to cover all the expenses he/she wished to incur.

The mere fact that an employer and an employee have entered into an agreement provides exactly no evidence that the agreement is fair.

What's fair? I'm serious. What is "fair" ... exactly? What one person sees as fair, another person will perceive as unacceptable to them. Which is why such decisions are best left only to those individuals directly involved (an employer & an employee in this case) ... and why these decisions should be kept out of the domain of others who are uninvolved but who would claim to know what's best for both, without ever knowing the exact circumstances or even being personally acquainted with either of them.
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From:ferrousoxide
Date:October 6th, 2005 10:12 am (UTC)
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I'm not sure about your own crap-job analogy. You were doing well at your 3.25/hr job precicely because you were living with your parents. You didn't find it unfair because you had no bills, so it was all simply savings or pocket-money for you. Some people aren't so lucky. Imagine trying to actually *live* on a $5.15/hr job if that's all you are capable of getting. Rent alone will run your more than that in most hovels in the Twin Cities.
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From:gothaminserenia
Date:October 6th, 2005 09:53 pm (UTC)
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You were doing well at your 3.25/hr job precicely because you were living with your parents. You didn't find it unfair because you had no bills

Actually, this was precisely my point. People have ample control over their financial destiny, even at low income levels. Longer-term, you can control your income, and short-term, you can control your expenses. It's not so much about what you earn, it's about what you have left over.

Living independently is a great "perk" of being fairly well-off ... but it's not really necessary. Yeah, going back to living with the parents sucks, but it's still an option (I've had to do it once, and since then I've tried to ensure that it'll never happen again). Alternately, one could live with a group of friends for a while if need be. And, really, you don't "need" cable TV. You don't "need" the internet. You don't "need" a car, with the bus as an (albeit inconvenient) alternative. People need to choose expenses appropriate for their income level. I have little sympathy for those who just graduated from high school, only to go out & have kids, buy a new car, and purchase a ton of clothes & miscellaneous junk on their credit card, then whine that their employer isn't paying them enough.

Imagine trying to actually *live* on a $5.15/hr job if that's all you are capable of getting.

Don't sell people short! Everyone is capable of being successful & doing great things ... so long as they're willing to work at getting there.

I worked hard to get where I am. So it perturbs me when some people think that the world owes them something or that money should just fall from the sky.

Rent alone will run your more than that in most hovels in the Twin Cities.

Yes, rent is high, particularly in the Mpls & St Paul municipalities (compared to the less expensive suburbs). But it's not because gravity is different here, where it's somehow more difficult to construct an apartment building. It's because of a whole slate of taxes & social programs which adds to the burden everyone is forced to pay for; particularly landlords, who have to make up for these increased costs with higher rent rates.
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From:caitfish
Date:October 5th, 2005 08:45 pm (UTC)
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I voted.
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From:ferrousoxide
Date:October 5th, 2005 09:15 pm (UTC)
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That's the important part. Yay.
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