By Elliott Negin - 07/31/13 12:05 AM EDT
From Elliott Negin, director of News and Commentary, the Union of Concerned Scientists
The Hill recently reported that the Institute for Energy Research (IER) and its advocacy arm, the American Energy Alliance (AEA), is planning a PR campaign to kill any congressional attempt to pass a carbon tax to address climate change (“Conservative group launches broad anti-carbon tax campaign,” July 16).
The story failed to disclose that the IER represents the narrow interests of the oil-and-gas industry. Over the last decade or so, the IER has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the industry’s trade association, the American Petroleum Institute; ExxonMobil; and the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, which is controlled by Charles Koch, co-owner of Koch Industries, the Wichita-based coal, oil and gas behemoth. Meanwhile, the organization’s president, Thomas Pyle, is a former lobbyist for Koch Industries and the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association.
The Hill is not alone in failing to inform readers that these organizations—and dozens of others—are proxies for an industry that will do whatever it can to stop government action on climate change
Time for Washington to raise the minimum wage
From Michele Swenson
Washington policy in recent decades has primarily served the wealthy elite. Corporate profits are at an all-time high, and wages at an all-time low. Though productivity has increased 99 percent over four decades, wages have stagnated, increasing only 4 percent. Workers don’t enjoy the rewards of their increased productivity, while corporate CEOs make out like bandits.
Even as CEO compensation has skyrocketed more than 900 percent, the minimum wage has lost one-third of its value over the past 45 years. Adjusting minimum wage for inflation since 1968, 30 million U.S. minimum-wage workers would be making $10.56 instead of the current $7.25 per hour. Florida Rep. Alan Grayson’s bill, H.R. 1346, comes closest to achieving this, at $10.50 per hour.
An Economic Policy Institute report shows that raising the minimum wage to $10.50 could stimulate the economy by adding at least $60 billion in consumer spending. For each dollar increase in the minimum wage, a Chicago Federal Reserve study projects $2,800 more annual spending from each minimum wage worker’s household.
Numerous polls demonstrate that a majority of Americans support increasing the minimum wage and indexing it to inflation. It’s time for Washington to work for people, providing economic stimulus and better-paying jobs that result from raising the minimum wage.
Families alone in burden caused by the sequester
Robin L. Robbins
It is appalling to me as a government employee that there has been so little said on the impact we are facing as sequestration actually takes effect. Unlike my government, my family and I live within a budget. This 20 percent pay cut hits my family budget deep into our discretionary spending, cutting our take-home pay by 70 percent. Simply put, we do pay our bills first.
I am so ashamed of our legislators practicing business as usual, as evidence in the recent proposal for immigration reform — especially now, with the current fiscal year budget balanced on the backs of our lowest-paid government employees. Yet, our legislators continue to act like the elitists they are. Shame on them.
They could fix this if they wanted to, but reform and transparency really is not on the agenda. Their actions shout their agenda, and we as a people have been quiet in our response. Did you know that through the halls of Congress they are talking of doing this again next year?
Why, you may ask — because no one is dismayed by what is happening to us. We are alone in this burden.
‘Sea fence’ necessary to stop illegal immigration
From C.W. Robinson, former deputy secretary of State and president of MSHIPCO LLC
The Senate recently passed a bill including provision for a $40 billion expanded border fence. Although no details have been released, it would appear that it relates only to the land border. If so, this would greatly increase illegal immigration on the Pacific and Gulf Coast.
Anticipating this challenge, MSHIPCO has developed a “sea fence” that would counter illegal immigration beyond the land border fence.
This consists of a modified Stiletto developed by the company, which would serve as a mother ship for a group of smaller satellite craft.
These would operate off the coasts sealing off boat traffic for transporting illegal immigrants.
I firmly believe that it is essential the Senate’s “border fence” include such a “sea fence,” or the basic objective of preventing illegal immigration will be frustrated.
Santa Fe, N.M.