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Minimum wage, Title IX and gun control

September 3, 2012
By George J. Bryjak

Republican congressional candidate Matt Doheny recently stated that raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.80 an hour "runs counter to the people's desires." You can bet the farm he didn't talk to the people who are working for that wage. Assuming a 40-hour week, $7.25 an hour translates to an annual salary of $15,080. If the congressional seat Doheny seeks paid $15,000 a year, he would be screaming to the high heavens that the paltry sum is not a liveable wage, and he would be correct.

Speaking of tourism, Doheny notes that "travelers definitely consider the price of gas when deciding whether they can afford a trip." What about individuals in the North Country earning minimum wage who must travel long distances to and from work? Doesn't the price of gas impact them as well? And with rising food costs as a consequence of the nationwide drought, how far does $7.25 an hour go at the supermarket?

Bill Owens also opposes raising the minimum wage, stating, "The economy has to recover more." Both Doheny and Owens are concerned about the impact raising the minimum wage would have on small businesses struggling to survive. Not to worry, gentlemen, I have the solution.

A comprehensive study by Aswath Damodaran (New York University) of more than 7,000 publicly traded companies found that 1,979 of these organizations (banks, oil companies, medical suppliers, computer software/services, pharmaceutical and biotechnology) had an effective or real federal tax rate of 17.5 percent or less, with most companies in this group having a significantly lower rate. Close ALL corporate tax loopholes so that corporations in the highest tax bracket - 35 percent on $18.33 million or more annual income - pay every penny the law requires. Use the billions of dollars of extra revenue to subsidize small business owners. That is, use these funds to make up the difference between the existing $7.25 minimum wage and the desired $9.80 minimum wage.

In addition, place an "export tax" on the jobs these corporations are outsourcing. Corporate America is making big bucks on the salary differences between American and (for example) Vietnamese workers. The least these multi-national corporations can do is use some of this profit to subsidize minimum wage positions in this country, jobs so many of their former employees are forced to take.

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Title IX

Of the 104 medals won by Olympic athletes at the 2012 Summer Games, 58 (56 percent of the total) were captured by female athletes. Many female Olympians, past and present, credit Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 as the gateway to their success. Signed into law by President Nixon, the law stated that all schools receiving federal funds must provide equal opportunity for males and females. The Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Education took the position that if any program was receiving federal money, the entire school must comply with Title IX standards. Opponents of the law, including the Reagan administration (which launched a vigorous campaign against it), argued that since no athletic departments at the high school or college level, per se, were recipients of federal dollars, Title IX did not apply to them.

In a 1984 case (Grove City College v. Bell) the Supreme Court sided with opponents of Title IX and ruled that only those programs receiving federal funds must comply with the statute. Within a year, the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights suspended or narrowed more than 800 investigations involving athletics - cases characterized by one attorney wherein "discrimination (against girls and women) is so apparent, so blatant."

In a 75 (48 Democrats and 27 Republicans)-to-14 vote, Congress, despite continuing opposition from the Reagan administration, passed the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987 which overturned the "program-specific" aspects of the Grove City decision. Reagan promptly vetoed the bill that became law when the Senate voted 73-24 to override his veto. (When it comes to limiting women's rights and supporting policies that prevent females from realizing their full potential, Republicans are always involved.)

The impact of Title IX was immediate and dramatic. In 1971, a mere 7.5 percent of almost 4 million high school athletes were females. By the 2005-06 academic year, 41.2 percent of high school athletes - more than 2.9 million participants - were females. In 1972, women comprised only 15.6 percent of college athletes and received very few athletic scholarships. By 1993, approximately 100,000 collegiate athletes (one in three) were females, a number that increased to almost 200,000 in 2012.

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Gun control

In early August I sent emails to Congressman Bill Owens and his challenger, Matt Doheny, requesting information on their firearms and gun control perspectives. A few days later I received an email from Doheny's deputy campaign manager, Jude Seymour, stating, "Matt is a lifetime NRA member. He received an AQ rating from the organization - the highest rating a non-incumbent can receive - but does not receive any funds from the organization for his campaign." So far, nothing from Bill Owens, who was endorsed by the NRA in the last election.

Doheny told the Watertown Daily Times, "Gun control does not work, because the people who want to inflict harm, the bad guys, seem to always get the guns." By "gun control," I assume he means gun laws. According to the FBI's annual crime reports, from 1991 through 2010 there were 366,596 murders and non-negligent manslaughters, and 1,907,300 forcible rapes known to police in the U.S. (Most criminologists believe the latter number is significantly higher, as most rapes are not reported to authorities.)

Clearly these laws do not work "because the people who want to inflict harm, the bad guys, seem to always" rape and murder. I wonder if Mr. Doheny advocates repealing these useless criminal statutes. One could argue that with the highest prison incarceration rate in the industrial world, our criminal justice system is a complete failure. Perhaps we should scrap the entire system and give everybody a gun, or two or 10 (including at least one assault rifle), and rely on street justice.

Speaking of the Colorado and Wisconsin gun murders, Owens stated, "The fact that we've had a couple of people who clearly have ... mental health issues doesn't really change my position." Mr. Owens is monumentally misunderstating the problem, as this country has averaged two mass murders a MONTH for the past 35 years. How long must the list of gun-inflicted mass-murder victims extend before politicians like Owens and Doheny rethink their gun control positions?

When it comes to guns, gun control and politicians, Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York is correct when he states that "elected officials are so afraid of, not the NRA - they're afraid of not getting elected. There's got to be something more important than not getting elected. What about doing what's right?"

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George J. Bryjak lives in Bloomingdale, retired after 24 years of teaching sociology at the University of San Diego.

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Sources:

Amaral, B. (Aug. 11, 2012) "After shootings, gun-control views don't change for congressional candidates," Watertown Daily Times, www.watertowndailytimes.com

Bryjak, G. (July 2000) "The Ongoing Controversy Over Title IX," USA Today - The Magazine of the American Scene, pp: 62-63

Crime in the United States - 2010 (2011) Federal Bureau of Investigation, www.fbi.gov

"Empowering Women in Sports" (accessed 2012) Feminist Majority Foundation, feminist.org

"Gender Equality in Athletics and Sports" (accessed 2012) Feminist Majority Foundation, feminist.org

"Historical Corporate Tax Rate and Bracket: 1909-2010" (accessed 2012) The Tax Policy Center, www.taxpolicycenter.org

McDonald, E. (Feb. 22, 2012) "Winners and Losers in President's Corporate Tax Reform" Fox Business, www.foxbusiness.com

Morris, C. (Aug. 8, 2012) "Doheny Talks Tourism" Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Morris, C. (Aug. 14, 2012) "Congressional hopefuls agree: Don't raise minimum wage," Adirondack Daily Enterprise

"Position on Equity in School Athletics" (June 2009) American Association of University Women, www.aauw.org

"Title IX Civil Rights Protection for Women and Girls in Education" (accessed 2012) People for the American Way, www.pfaw.org

Wolverton, B. (Jan. 22, 2012) "Female Participation in College Sports Reaches All-Time High," The Chronicle of Higher Education, chronicle.com

 
 

 

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