Monday, July 31, 2006

Minimum Wage and Estate Tax?

Minimum wage and Estate Taxes. These 2 things together in the same sentence? Seems kind of odd but in an election year attempt to buyoff the very poor and payoff the very rich the Republicans have decided to tie the two items together. The minimum wage goes up for the first time in a decade and the estate tax for about 11,000 wealthy families goes down.

Its beyond surprising that they would attempt such a naked election year ploy but there you have it. The poorest can only get a little more if the already super rich get richer. The ploy is obvious: Adding the estate tax provisions to the bill insures the Democrats will try to block it and so the Republicans in moderate districts can now say its the Democrats that don't care about poor people, not them.

As Senator Kennedy aptly stated "It's political blackmail to say the only way that minimum wage workers can get a raise is to give a tax giveaway to the wealthiest Americans," "Members of Congress raised their own pay with no strings attached. Surely, common decency suggests that minimum wage workers deserve the same respect."


A few things to keep in mind when comtemplating this issue:

Inflation has eroded the minimum wage's buying power to the lowest level in about 50 years. Lawmakers have won cost-of-living wage increases totaling about $35,000 for themselves over that time. During the same period the gap between the wealthiest and poorest among us has grown considerably.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


The other day I finally got the chance to watch the Steven Spielberg film Munich. As I watched it I couldn't help but compare the conflict of the early 1970s to the conflict taking place now more than three decades removed from the tragedy the movie is based on.

Of course that's what Speilberg was trying to accomplish. To make us reflect upon how little has changed in the mind set of both sides in a seemingly never ending conflict. The cycle of violence was defined then, as now, by acts of revenge. Neither side seems willing or able to extract itself from the cycle. Sure they take little "time-outs" but the cycle always restarts. This time, as a backdrop to the movie, is the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier by militants and the resulting attacks by the Israelis on Gaza and the arresting of Hamas legislators and government officials. I have often wondered why there are people, especially on the Arab side, who seem to almost want to keep the conflict simmering ad nasueam. All throughout Oslo there used to be a suicide bombing almost every time the two sides were close to any agreement. Now the circumstances are different but the mentality seems to remain the same.

In my own view an all out invasion of Gaza is probably not the answer and would be counterproductive. The real answer is a re-doubling of efforts to disengage Israel from the Palestinian areas. Finish the border fences, and increase security along it. Making Israel a huge gated community is probably not the best long term solution, but for now its the best answer. When the Palestinian thinking changes with regards to what peace means and Israel has a real partner to negotiate with, then the border situation can be reexamined.

Munich took place in 1972, but here we are in 2006 and it seems very little has changed.