Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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August 5, 2016

Sullivan’s Salvos     8/9/16

In this edition:

*Boards and Commissions
*Democratic Party Infighting
*Minimum Wage “Intent”
*Did You Know?

*Boards and Commissions
         Johnson County government consists of over 500 employees, 10 elected officials, and approximately 30 Boards and Commissions. I know I don’t talk enough about the tremendous contributions of our many Boards and Commissions!

         From setting the value of your home, to cleaning up streams, to local foods, to historic preservation, to assisting veterans, seniors, children, and people with disabilities – Johnson County has a Board or Commission on almost every topic imaginable.

         These many topics are tackled by scores of Johnson County residents, who bring their considerable talents, knowledge, and opinions to the table. Each one volunteers her/his time to make Johnson County a better place to live, learn, work, and play.

         We are going to honor the members of our many Boards and Commissions on Thursday, August 11 at 4PM at the Admin Building. If you are a member of any of our Boards and Commissions, please attend so we can thank you in person for your service!

         If you are NOT currently a member, please take a look at our list of Boards and Commissions on the County website. We’d love to have you join us!

*Democratic Party Infighting
         While it is gradually becoming less and less, there is still a bit of infighting in the Democratic Party.

This stuff is not new. For one thing, there is pretty much ALWAYS tension in the Party. And that is healthy! Ideas are always competing. We do not want to squelch that.

These types of issues come up a lot. Granted, many Sanders supporters (my kids, for example) do not recall Ralph Nader and the 2000 election.

While 2000 was obviously a disaster, and I wish Nader had done many things differently, I still believe the primary responsibility for losing in 2000 lies with Al Gore. For one, he could have kept both Bradley and Nader out of the race by throwing progressives a few bones. But Gore refused, and went all-in on DLC crap.

So, using 2000 as a guide, we all have work to do. The Clinton campaign needs to be kind to Sanders supporters, and keep promises that were made. Sanders supporters need to suck it up and move to fighting for Dems in the General Election.

Look, I understand what it is like to be on the losing team. Far too well! I caucused for Jackson-Jackson-Harkin-Undecided-Bradley-Dean-Obama-Obama-Sanders. I am batting .222, and started 0-6!

You read that right; I caucused “Undecided” in 1996. We were a very viable group, but the results reported by the IDP claimed Iowa was unanimous for President Clinton. It was not. A small controversy ensued. But you know what? Life went on.

You pick a candidate, and you work like hell for her/him. Then we vote. If your candidate wins, great. If your candidate loses, you have 3 choices:

1.   Support the nominee(s);
2.   Do no harm;
3.   Leave the Party.

Your vote is sacred, and it is private. No one has a right to require you to vote a certain way. But parties, being membership organizations, DO have a right to demand that you at least do no harm.

         We can do this, people. We have done it before. Dems need to all relax, be kind to each other, and look big picture.

*Minimum Wage “Intent”
I have heard MANY people make the claim, “The minimum wage was never intended to be a living wage.” That is a bold claim… it implies that you know what the architects of the program thought.

There is really only one way to fact check that claim, and that is to go to the Father of the minimum wage: Franklin Delano Roosevelt. We should find out what FDR intended!

Teresa Tritch did exactly that for the New York Times. Here is her blog post:

In the more than 75 years since Congress first enacted a federal minimum wage — at 25 cents an hour — lawmakers have increased it nine times, reaching the current level of $7.25 an hour in 2009. And with every increase the same objections have been raised.

Today, instead of dismantling these arguments on my own I decided to get a little help from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who had to fight Republicans, conservative Democrats, the Supreme Court and corporate leaders to pass the initial minimum wage in 1938.

*Objection: Raising the minimum wage will hurt business and reduce employment.
“No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country.” (1933, Statement on National Industrial Recovery Act)

*Objection: $10.10 an hour is too much, maybe $9.
“By living wages, I mean more than a bare subsistence level — I mean the wages of a decent living.” (1933, Statement on National Industrial Recovery Act)

*Objection: Once you add in public assistance and tax credits, $9 an hour is plenty, and business could survive that.
“Do not let any calamity-howling executive with an income of $1,000 a day, who has been turning his employees over to the Government relief rolls in order to preserve his company’s undistributed reserves, tell you – using his stockholders’ money to pay the postage for his personal opinions — tell you that a wage of $11.00 a week is going to have a disastrous effect on all American industry.” (1938, Fireside Chat, the night before signing the Fair Labor Standards Act that instituted the federal minimum wage)

*Objection: The minimum wage is a government mandate that interferes with the free market.
“All but the hopelessly reactionary will agree that to conserve our primary resources of man power, government must have some control over maximum hours, minimum wages, the evil of child labor and the exploitation of unorganized labor.” (1937, Message to Congress upon introduction of the Fair Labor Standards Act)

It took five years from F.D.R.’s first inauguration in 1933 to enact the federal minimum wage. The period encompassed “Black Monday” on May 27, 1935, when the Supreme Court invalidated the new labor standards in the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933, and “White Monday” on March 29, 1937, when the Court reversed course by upholding the minimum wage in Washington state, setting the stage for passage of a federal version.

Today, with census data showing that one third of Americans are either in or near poverty, the arguments in favor of an adequate minimum wage are still compelling. The difference is that the minimum wage has gone from being a bold advance in labor law to a basic tool for broader prosperity, albeit one that Congress has failed to deploy fully. That is a shame. What F.D.R. said in 1938 about establishing a minimum wage is also true about raising it: “Without question it starts us toward a better standard of living and increases purchasing power to buy the products of farm and factory.”

         So next time someone claims, “The minimum wage was never intended to be a living wage,” refer him to FDR! Nice work, Teresa Tritch!

*DID YOU KNOW?  Most County Boards and Commissions are required by State law, but several high profile commissions (Local Foods, Criminal Justice Coordinating, Livable Community for Successful Aging, Minimum Wage Advisory, Juvenile Justice Youth Development, etc.) were created in response to citizen requests.

Anyone interested in learning more about County government should take a look at the County website-

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