Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Most politicians deal with reality, while most economists deal with theory.Theories with powerful backers are extremely hard to dislodge because so many businesses have a vested interest in propping them up.Where are all the unemployed Pennsylvanians who have been laid off since the minimum wage hit $6.25 an hour in Pennsylvania on January 1, 2007 or $7.15 on July 1, 2007? Where are all the businesses who relocated to Pennsylvania from New York and New Jersey during the interregnum where the minimum wage was higher there than here? Examples of the results predicted by the theory are few and far between.The theory is unemployment rises when minimum wages go up. The real live practical experience is that more often than not, unemployment actually goes down when minimum wages go up because more people go into the work force and fill up vacancies.The movement to raise minimum wages is national and worldwide. Minimum wages would not keep rising in countries throughout the world if unemployment kept rising with them or if inflation jumped out of control. Business communities are not exactly powerless anywhere.The economic theory on the minimum wage is, in fact, largely wrong. Indeed it contradicts conservative economic theory on welfare reform, which holds that the way to get people off welfare is to make the economic difference between working and not working as large as possible. The conservative welfare reform theorists are right, and the conservative minimum wage theorists are wrong.

I am committed to using governmental power to raise standards of living to the greatest possible degree. I am hardly unique in that commitment.I am loyal to the interests of my constituents, and not theories of economists that have little relationship to reality.Alan Greenspan of the Federal Reserve Board started out as an Ayn Rand ideological theorist. But, as his career evolved, he became interested in how things actually worked. He learned that theories are places to begin a search for truth, but they are not truth itself. He became legendary for developing a network of obscure governmental statisticians working for various governmental departments, who would promptly report changes in what they measured to him before it was generally known.Greenspan was a great Federal Reserve Board Chairman because cared about what actually happened. He was repeatedly re-appointed by Presidents of both parties because he lived in the world of reality. More minimum wage economists should shun corporate patronage and join Greenspan in that world.

August 2, 2007


While I would like to get the Brookings report and evaluate its findings in greater detail, I believe it shows the decline of union jobs in the manufacturing sector more than anything else.

Manufacturing businesses all over the city of Philadelphia and all over America have been shutting down in recent decades. My legislative district is typical. The old Kelsey-Hays plant in Olney is now a major shopping center at Front and Olney Square. The old Exide plant accross from Hill Creek Apartments at Adams and Rising Sun Avenue is now a smaller shopping center. The old Sears distribution center is now a shopping center across from Friends Hospital at Adams and Roosevelt Boulevard. The old Whitaker Mills factory complex is now part of Tacony Creek Park at Rising Sun Avenue and Tabor Road.

In some respects, my legislative district is a better place, with far more convenient shopping opportunities and additional parkland. And all the new shopping centers drove the owners of a small shopping center to put it up for sale, leading to the construction of my legislative district's most beautiful school, the Grover Washington Middle School, at Olney Avenue near Rising Sun Avenue.

But despite whatever good comes of deindustrialization, the loss of good paying jobs carries a terrible burden for blue collar families. They often can simply not get comparable jobs. So they suffer considerable downward mobility, as individuals, families, and neighborhoods.

We certainly need the continuous retraining to upgrade skills that Bill Clinton talked about and delivered to a considerable degree during his Administration. And we need to continuously upgrade our educational system to help produce more white collar jobs that serve useful purposes than ever before in an age in which bureaucracy in both government and business is under steady attack from diverse sources.

We need to find ways currently unimaginable to redevelop our manufacturing capabilities in an era in which we are competing with extremely low wage countries. And we need to continously encourage the development of productive new industries to employ the many new people who enter the workforce each year.

A country without a strong middle class is neither stable nor internally strong. We are drifting towards being a country of the most financially secure upper middle class in history with an ever growing population in poverty, near poverty, and general financial need.

This is not really a good picture, and we need public support to take corrective public actions. The Brookings study is a good contribution to this increasingly widespread effort to inform the American people of the growth of economic distress in the midst of great prosperity at the top of the economic ladder.

June 25, 2006


Privatization is almost always a means to reduce governmental accountability as well as saving money.Privatization leads to deniability for governmental leaders. If only they had known, then it would be different. Generally, the less the privatization the better for accountability at all levels, from the U.S. armed forces, to the prisons, to the schools.

May 28, 2006


The number of shopping malls now probably exceeds the demand for them. The older and weaker shopping malls are now in some difficulty.The Cheltenham shopping mall came back after major improvements, as did the much smaller mall at Levick Street and Oxford Avenue in the Lawndale/Oxford Circle section of my legislative district.If developers see an opportunity in remaking the older malls, the host communities are quite lucky. It will be the times in which the market fails to attract developers that will pose the greatest problem for Glenolden and other similar suburban and urban communities.

May 26, 2006


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