A message from the editor
In our last edition, I wrote a couple of stories that reflected my mood. Sometimes, with all of the wicked problems the world faces these days, it can just get to a person. The news is often depressing, but I felt more frustrated than anything because while wicked problems are tough to solve, so many of them could have been prevented.
While 2021 is shaping up to be another tough year in many ways, one great thing that is happening is that laborers finally have some bargaining power again. I wasn’t sure if I would live to see it because labor unions have lost so much of their power over the past few decades, and for so long, largely due to automation, it looked as though there would always be more people looking for work than jobs to fill. But right now, the demand for workers is high, and despite not passing legislation to raise the minimum wage, many supermarket and restaurant workers are now receiving $15 per hour. Even in the small town I call home, grocery store employees have seen their wages rise from around $8 per hour to $12 per hour.
I believe this year will be known as the year of the worker… and it is about time! In so many occupations, wages have been stagnant for 20 years or more. Before COVID, many people used to be told that working from home was not an option, and many employers failed to grant sick leave (paid or not).
After COVID, we are seeing the price of pretty much everything going up, but this inflation is not simply the result of an increase in wages for many workers. Many price hikes occurred before increases in hourly pay. The opportunity was there, and is there, to raise prices — not just for businesses that were negatively effected by COVID, but for those that benefitted from it.
One can still find third party sellers online via Amazon and Walmart who are artificially inflating the price of certain goods due to perceived scarcity. In some cases, this practice has given manufacturers an excuse to raise their prices even though their costs haven’t necessarily gone up. Anyone who does any home canning can attest to this.
The people who feel the impact of these price hikes the most are those who live on a fixed income. Elderly and disabled Americans who rely on Social Security as their sole source of income need a cost of living adjustment (COLA) that actually reflects reality, and they need it before next year. The best way to pay for this increase is to raise the cap on Social Security taxes. Currently Social Security is based on income that falls below an annual cap of $142,800. Many proponents of raising the cap recommend that the dollar amount should be $400,000, and some argue that the cap should be eliminated entirely.
Prosperity for all Americans is within reach, but it will require legislative action, corporate action, and workers continuing to stand up for themselves.
Our next edition will be coming out on Labor Day and will be a special edition focusing on issues that affect workers. It should be a more robust edition than what we have had throughout the summer. Labor Day weekend is seen as the unofficial end of summer and the days that follow signify a time to get back to work. Let’s aim to do that safely by getting people vaccinated, preparing to take necessary precautions, and enjoying what’s left of summer by getting outside.
Thanks for reading.