Thursday, April 22, 2021

Last Call For Eat The Rich, Con't

GOP (and more than a few Democratic) governors across the nation have declared restaurants and hotels open for business again, and want to get tourist and diner dollars back into the economy.  Only one problem: nobody wants to work for crap wages and COVID-19 for a tip.

"After a whole year of waiting, guests are clamoring to come back. And restaurants have invested in these expanded outdoor areas, and they need people right now," says Alice Cheng, founder of Culinary Agents, a hospitality job search site. "But they’re not finding them."

Charlotte, North Carolina restauranteur Jon Dressler remembers being short one part-time dishwasher before the pandemic, and now he's looking for four kitchen workers and 10 servers, Axios Charlotte's Katie Peralta Soloff reports.

As travel starts up again, advance vacation bookings are spiking on Martha's Vineyard, but restaurant and hotel owners are struggling to hire enough employees, per the Martha's Vineyard Times.

One McDonald's in Tampa Bay, Florida is offering applicants $50 just to show up for an interview, Business Insider reports. In fact, according to a recent survey of employers by Culinary Agents, the top reason roles aren't getting filled is no-shows at interviews.

What's happening: The hospitality industry was among the hardest hit during the pandemic, and that's making its recovery even tougher. "Everybody is reopening at the same time" and that means everybody is hiring at the same time, which makes it harder to find workers, says Cheng. 

On top of that, restaurant work — especially customer-facing roles like server and host — is still seen as hazardous. "Some people are still concerned about getting the virus at an in-person job," says Jed Kolko, chief economist at the jobs site Indeed. And many Americans who worked in hospitality have simply left the industry amid the pandemic. Anecdotally, there are plenty of servers and bartenders joining training programs to get new jobs in tech or finance. 

There's also a shortage of foreign workers, due to former President Donald Trump's ban on temporary foreign workers and pandemic travel restrictions. The Trump ban lapsed on March 31, but employers fear there's not enough time to fill jobs by the busy summer. Some employers are saying they can't compete with unemployment insurance checks and that workers would rather collect benefits than go back to work. But a 2020 study by Yale economists found that unemployment benefits don't create a disincentive for job seekers.

Only at the end do we arrive at the "free market" solution: A labor shortage means pay workers more.

Silver linings: Service employees have long been treated as disposable workers. Now, with restaurants desperate to hire, the power is finally in the hands of workers — and that's a good thing, Cheng says. Restaurants are already starting to offer referral and retention bonuses to attract talent. And workers can be pickier and seek out more pay or robust health benefits, she says.

What to watch: The latest COVID-19 relief package includes a $28.6 billion fund to help restaurants get back up and running. And congressional Democrats' proposed legislation to raise the federal minimum wage would also help restaurant workers by boosting the minimum tipped wage, which currently sits at $2.13 an hour, to $4.95 an hour

Nobody wants to work bonkers hours for $2.13 an hour plus tips from maskless, grouchy wingnut Trump voters who are already terrible tippers. Trust me, I've been in food service and the wages haven't changed since I was slinging pizzas in college 25 years ago. No way I'd go back to it.

If these are "essential workers" then you'd better start paying them like it.

Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

The message from police, from the right, and even from some Democrats is the same: Ma'Khia Bryant had a knife, and so she had to be executed.
An Ohio criminal-justice professor who studies the fatal use of force by law-enforcement officers didn't hesitate to render an opinion after watching body-camera video of a Columbus police officer fatally shooting a 16-year-old girl Tuesday afternoon on the city's Southeast Side.

"My first impression is that the officer was legally justified in using deadly force," said Philip Stinson, a Bowling Green State University professor who has compiled nationwide statistics on fatal shootings that have led to criminal charges against officers.

"It's a terribly tragic situation, and my heart goes out to the girl and her family and friends," he told The Dispatch Wednesday. "But from looking at the video, it appears to me that a reasonable police officer would have had a reasonable apprehension of an imminent threat of serious bodily injury or death being imposed against an officer or someone else. That's the legal standard."

The body-camera video, which the city first showed during a news conference late Tuesday night, captured the perspective of Officer Nicholas Reardon, who shot Ma’Khia Bryant seconds after he arrived outside a home on the 3100 block of Legion Lane on a report of an attempted stabbing.

The video shows Bryant, who is holding a knife, push a female who is falling down backwards at the officer's feet, then turn and charge at another female dressed in a pink outfit. The female in pink is pinned against a car in the driveway while Bryant appears to swing the knife at her, prompting Reardon to fire what sounds like four shots.

James Scanlon, a retired Columbus Division of Police SWAT officer who spent 33 years with the division, has since trained officers, and served as an expert witness at trials in use-of-force cases, agreed with Stinson's assessment of the video.

"An officer is justified in using deadly force if his life or the life of someone else is at risk," Scanlon said Wednesday. "Few would argue that there weren't at least two lives there that were at serious risk."

In this case, Scanlon said, Reardon wasn't trying to protect himself, "but to save the life of someone he doesn't even know. ... It's a shame that no one has recognized that that officer, in all likelihood, saved one or more lives
No attempt made to deescalate. Just summary execution of a 15-year -old Black girl.
Four bullets in the chest and dead.
Due process isn't for us, you see. We're not human. The penalty for having a knife and being Black is death, and then, later, America justifies it.

Just another dead Black girl.
But her life mattered.
Black Lives Still Matter.

The Return Of Austerity Hysteria, Con't

 The national debt and debt ceiling are back, because they only matter if the President is a Democrat.

Senate Republicans on Wednesday signaled they might oppose any future increase to the debt ceiling unless Congress also couples it with comparable federal spending cuts, raising the specter of a political showdown between GOP leaders and the White House this summer.

Republican lawmakers staked their position after a private gathering to consider the conference’s operating rules this session, issuing what GOP leaders described later as an important yet symbolic statement in response to the large-scale spending increases proposed by President Biden in recent months.

“I think that is a step in the right direction in terms of reining in out-of-control spending,” Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) told reporters after the meeting.

The debt ceiling is the maximum amount the U.S. government is allowed borrow to meet its financial obligations. Congress previously agreed to suspend the limit through July 2021, at which point the Treasury Department has only a few months of “extraordinary measures” it can take before lawmakers must either raise the amount — or face the unprecedented consequences of default.

Republicans raised hardly any complaints about the debt ceiling during the Trump administration, voting frequently to increase it without requiring any spending cuts in return. Over that period, the federal debt increased by roughly $7 trillion as Trump pushed for large levels of military spending and slashed taxes for U.S. corporations.

But Republicans quickly revived their calls for austerity once Biden entered the White House, much as they had done in the past when Democrats took control in Washington. The spending concerns also contributed to GOP lawmakers’ unanimous opposition to Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan earlier this year, on top of the party’s more recent apprehension about the White House’s roughly $2 trillion stimulus package.

On Wednesday, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) on Wednesday put forward the initial proposal targeting the debt ceiling, which his office described as an attempt to battle back Democrats who have sought to “spend recklessly, driving up inflation,” in recent months. It finds the conference should consider either budget cuts or “meaningful structural reform” to spending in exchange for the debt ceiling increase.

It is not clear how the policy might apply in the event Democrats seek to suspend the debt limit, rather than raise the amount. It also is not binding on the party, in keeping with the Republican conference’s other rules. Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.) later described it as “aspirational,” and Sen. Mike Rounds (S.D.) acknowledged that all of the resolutions party leaders considered Wednesday are “just resolutions,” adding: “The rules themselves are something we strive to follow.”
Republicans are betting that Democrats won't or can't use reconciliation on the debt ceiling bill this summer, and will be forced to come to the table and make trillions in immediate austerity cuts or face default, which would in fact crater the economy. Either way, Senate Republicans are hoping voters blame Biden and the Dems and give them the Senate back.

The solution of course is to scrap the filibuster and raise the debt ceiling, but that's not an option it seems thanks to Sinema and Manchin.

So we'll see.
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