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Pushing for $15

On our News Blog, "Fast Food Workers Strike for Higher Wages" (News Blog):

$15 is too high for a minimum wage. Fast food workers seem to work pretty hard for low wages, but that's just how it is. The concept of a minimum wage has no real value other than as a talking point for politicians.

The law of worker supply and demand drives fast food hourly wages. If there is a shortage of workers, wages and benefits naturally rise. Why would someone make demands from an employer that they get paid more? I've seen some great people leave a place for more money.


If you don't like the pay, why not quit and get a better job that pays more?


Those receiving a pay raise undoubtedly benefit from the higher income. But what about those who lose their jobs when the employer automates or creates more self-service for the customer? Look at how many stores are moving to self checkout lines, which eliminates positions, just as tens of thousands of jobs were lost in the telecom industry when employment costs became higher than the cost of investment to automate.


Perhaps we're forgetting that Rochester is the fifth poorest city in the US (third, by some metrics). And given that the Rochester area unemployment rate is consistently about 1 percent lower than the national rate, that means the reason Rochester is poor is not because there aren't jobs. It's because the jobs like the food industry are paying poverty wages, like the fast food industry.

As Americans, we're also forgetting that the only way that we've ever succeeded in fighting poverty is through the kind of organizing that these workers are doing. Striking for better pay is as American as apple pie. And it's also the best way to fight poverty in Rochester. These brave workers are leading the way toward an economy that works for all of us. They're heroes.


Studying cancer and its causes

Your report "Pinning Down Prostate Cancer" could have been written by big Pharma, the AMA, the HMOs, and/or the American Cancer Society. All stand to benefit from spooking the American public into ever-deeper health paranoia.

Nowhere in the article is it mentioned that most Western diseases, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease, are preventable and reversible without the use of "modern medicine." It is our Western diet that is killing us.

"The China Study," published in January 2005, examined the supposed relationship between the consumption of animal products (including dairy) and chronic illnesses such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, and cancers of the breast, prostate, and bowel. The authors conclude that "people who eat a whole-food, plant-based/vegan diet – avoiding all animal products, including beef, pork, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese and milk, and reducing their intake of processed foods and refined carbohydrates – will escape, reduce, or reverse the development of numerous diseases."

The authors argue that "most, but not all, of the confusion about nutrition is created in legal, fully disclosed ways and is disseminated by unsuspecting, well-intentioned people, whether they are researchers, politicians, or journalists," and that there are powerful industries that stand to lose a lot if Americans shift to a plant-based diet. They write that those industries "do everything in their power to protect their profits and their shareholders."

What the public needs from journalists is information on how to prevent Western diseases, and who stands to profit from withholding this information from us. No amount of handwringing can take the place of accurate reporting of the full story based on well-vetted research.


Who's to blame for schools' low performance?

On our News Blog, "Teacher Report Cards Show Performance Discrepancies, But Why?": Are we really asking if better teacher training is the answer? Or maybe, duh, just hire better teachers like the suburbs do. Whew. Crisis solved!

How can anyone be surprised that the scores turned out this way? If test scores are used to measure performance, what other outcome can be expected? Any rational, intelligent person knows that city school district test scores are not driven by hordes of horrible teachers.

There are good and bad teachers in both the city and suburban school districts. If we consider only the issue of teacher evaluations (and put aside the dismal performance of the city schools), there is a very simple solution. Have teachers measured by their boss (the school admin) based on the subjective criteria that the rest of us get judged on. Set objectives locally; get measured on them.

As long as we rate teachers on unobtainable, non-variable objectives, city teachers will always appear to have lesser performance.


On Urban Journal's "'Fix' the Schools? Maybe We're Not Up to the Job": How can we improve the schools when the students don't even show up? And why should they? They know that the taxpayer will provide them with free housing, free heat, and free food anyway for the rest of their life, as they teach the next generation how to do the same.

The Democrats don't have and don't want a solution. This is just a game they've played with other people's lives to gain political power.


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