I don't always "name" each weeks edition of Sunday Morning Coffee but today seemed different. Maybe it's because I think we need to look beyond the sensational headlines of the past week and come to the agreement that we're pretty much screwed if we fail to vote these bastards out of office in November. Sorry...see already strong. My name is Michael Libbie and I get to write this political blog each Sunday morning...it's a hobby? Let's go!
Different Shades of Truth
I do not trust a word that comes out of the mouth of the President of the United States and neither should you. This weekend I heard a commentator say, "It's not that the president is lying it's just that he sees different shades of the truth." I guess if we were talking about "Joe - The Guy Who Cuts My Hair" and his passion for mendacity that would be one thing. However, "45" is the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES and we, and other nations know that what ever he says it is a lie. That my friends is damaging to much more than just the kook who occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It is a question of national security.
My good friend Desmund Adams once said about equality, "Equality is equality; there are no shades of being equal." Same goes with the truth.
Farmers & Soybeans
Last week in a financial impact statement we learned about the numbers that accompany a 25% tariff on soybeans. China, as we already know, is buying soybeans from Canada and Brazil forgoing the United States. The impact of that decision is stunning. Last year China purchased $14 billion in U.S. soybeans. This year the projection is a drop of $4.5 billion in sales because of the tariff. That should really help the rural economy that is already reeling from low commodity prices. Many of my farmer friends voted for "45" in 2016 because, "He tells it like it is!" I'm here to suggest that nothing could be further from the truth...and you are about to pay the price.
Wages & Inflation
Working hard? Can't seem to get ahead? Putting in more hours and failing to see the reward? There is a reason for that. Stick with me because this gets into the weeds. The U.S. added 164,000 jobs in April (lower than the 194,000 projected) and unemployment ticked down to 3.9% the lowest it has been in 18 years. Meanwhile, and this is IMPORTANT...wages in the U.S. rose by 0.1%. This is NOT the way it normally works. Low Unemployment = Higher Wages...but it's not happening. And to put icing on the cake inflation is expected to increase by 2.45% in 2018.
So...annual wage growth year over year from 2017 is only 2.6%. This means wages are stuck even though corporations are sitting on trillions of dollars and about to receive even more money in light of the recent tax reductions. Stay with me because it's about to get interesting and it impacts you and your quality of life.
Economists say there are two reasons wages are not moving higher while unemployment is at an 18 year low:
- Returning to the Workforce - There were so many people displaced during the Great Recession that many are still entering the workforce so employers don't have to pay more;
- Technology Replacing Workers - Because there is more and more automation happening in nearly every line of work from legal to hamburgers business is finding they can do more, or the same, without increasing wages and off-shore to technology.
I'm calling "bullshit" on number one. But, hey that's just me. Here is the real story. This is why wages are down and you are working more and can't get ahead.
In 1979 34% of the workers in the United States belonged to a labor union. That number, in 2017, shrank to just 10%. In two independent studies it was estimated that if the U.S. had the same labor union strength as in 1979 wages for non-college educated workers would be ten to twelve percent higher for union and NON-UNION workers then they are today.
Yet you continue to bash unions. You continue to elect union-busting politicians. You continue to vote against your own interests. You get...what you vote for.
One more thing. Just to drive it all home. The gas you put in your vehicle has increased in price...in just one year...by 20% and food is projected to increase by 2.4% this year.
Kiss your savings (if you have any) goodbye.
So the Governor of Iowa fires a department head in a split second due to allegations that he is sexually harassing women in the workplace. No independent study. No investigation. BAM...fired. For years rumors have been circulated about the two when they were county treasurers and had a "very close relationship". It's just odd....just odd. I would suspect nobody wants to talk about the past because it just might impact the future?
The Iowa Legislature packed up and when home but not before they took a giant wrecking ball to our economy and to health care. And, there is more to come. Sen. Charles Schneider (R-WDM) said so in his closing remarks. Now that they have tanked the future of services in Iowa (and become the New Kansas) and decided that women should not call the shots when it comes to their reproductive rights and made it tougher to vote and to maintain a union they are not done. Look for school vouchers to be the first thing this bunch tees up next year. Further crippling our public school system. Look for them to come back and attempt to limit the rights of transgender citizens. Look for them to continue to policy of throwing major dollars toward already successful corporations. Look for them to further reduce support to community colleges and look for them to continue to stall when it comes to medical marijuana.
That is unless you do your damn job and turn aside these masters at the wrecking ball. We've got a great list of candidates who have come out to challenge the Republicans that have turned this state from leading the nation to following Mississippi. But you must vote and move progressives into the statehouse. It's up to you.
Three Hours in Des Moines
I attended a meeting last week hosted by the Des Moines Human and Civil Rights Commission. Joshua Barr, the commissioner, assembled about 17 people representing various groups in the Metro. Chief Dana Wingert, DMPD, John Sarcone, Polk County Attorney, Wayne Ford, Izaah JB Knox, teachers, students and community leaders all to discuss and come up with workable solutions to violence in the Metro. The group came up with three action steps moving forward:
- Create a List - There are a stunning number of good things happening between the police and people of color yet we tend to focus on the negative...or at least that is what gets the headlines. The group is compiling a list of progressive work being done now and our goal is to share that with the entire community. Even if just to say, "We're working on it."
- Economic Security - The group came to the realization the only way to combat poverty is to increase the economic opportunity of our citizens. When the unemployment rate for in Polk County is 2.8% and the unemployment rate in the African-American Community is close to 14% we've got an issue that needs to be resolved;
- Education - The group believes that education with regard to bias needs to start much earlier than high school and they are working on a plan to engage social responsibility and tackle bias in our education system at a much earlier age.
Let's start here. I want to introduce you to Karin Derry (pronounced Dairy) a wife, mom and, up until 2016, pretty much out of the loop when it came to politics. That changed when she saw who was elected to the White House and packed some gear into a van and headed to Washington D.C. for the Woman's March. She is now running to replace one of the most obnoxious politicians in Iowa in House District 39 - Johnston, Urbandale, Grimes, Jefferson Township (Polk County). I caught up with Karin in West Des Moines at the Polk County Democrats Booth and asked her about...her. (Click the audio link for more)
Here is the deal. We have to fight evil and support those candidates, no matter where they are. Candidates who will reverse the Wrecking Ball the GOP has fostered on Iowa. We have 95 candidates seeing state office. Democrats are competing and going after 54 Republican legislators. We have done a great job in recruiting excellent people and it is up to YOU to make it happen.
My Bride and I attended a Kentucky Derby Party yesterday. It was a great adventure and the conversation was energizing. Business people, civic leaders, educators, physicians gathering to watch the race and engage in thoughtful dialogue. I am a mint julep virgin...until yesterday. I know shameful, right? I figured "When in Rome...." So, stepped up and the bartender created a masterpiece. No, really. I thought I would dislike it as I'm not a bourbon drinker but this was amazing. And, it knocked me on my ass. One drink and I was reduced to water for the rest of the evening. I have NO idea what the hell the deal was. Somebody suggested it was the mixture of sugar and booze. I dunno but whoa! Just a heads up for next year.
We did go out to the horses and I was able to capture Georgie in her Kentucky Derby dress and hat... Hey it's the Derby.
Thanks for reading and have a great Sunday!