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December 4, 2013     Farmers Independent
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December 4, 2013
 

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Wednesday) December 4) 2013 Actually, keep your advice ... l'n take a pay raise (Bill Press is on vacation, so we are substituting with the following column.) ,, By Mary Sanchez Tribune Content Agency ' Just in time for the holidays, your low-wage 'employer wants you to know it really cares. And would you mind tidying up the condiment stand on i your way to the soup kitchen? Once again, McDonald's is showing its brilliance fat employee relations. In July, recall, the company i haplessly offered a sample budget for its employees, omitting the costs of gas and groceries and projecting i fantasy monthly rents of $600, car payments of $150 and health insurance costs of $20. Now the company has favored the working poor with advice on stress relief, savings and health. On a website it hosts for employees, called McResource Line, McDonald's had this sage advice: --Sell unwanted items on eBay or Craigslist to make some extra cash. --Breaking food "into pieces" bits can help you feel more full. --"Pack your bags" and take a vacation! Because, you know, people who take at least two vacations a year can cut their chance of heart attack by 50 percent. You can almost picture the comfortable college graduate who pounded out these helpful "tips." That person probably takes a nice vacation at least once a year, along with long-weekend trips a plane ride away. He or she isn't likely depending on two part- time jobs at $7.75 an hour to raise a family. Not to be outdone, Walmart, another favorite target of living-wage agitators, had the curtain lifted on its own Dickensian reality to kick off the Season of Giving. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that in an employees-only area of a Walmart store in Canton, Ohio, bins were set out to collect food for fellow employees. "Please donate food items here, so associates in need can enjoy Thanksgiving dinner," read a sign placed over the bins, as featured in a photo in the Plain Dealer. "This is part of the company's culture to rally around associates and take care of them when they face extreme hardships," a company spokesman told the Plain Dealer. Too bad it's not part of the company's culture to pay living wages. Or maybe it's too bad that it's not part of Americans' political culture to raise the minimum wage. To be fair, these gaffes came from a good place. But what rankles, in addition to that whole low-wage thing, is the condescension. Please, corporate mandarins, spare your poor employees your wisdom on scrimping and saving. They know waaay more about that topic than you do. : Seriously. Want to see a problem-solver in action? bJoaitor a single mother of three with not enough cash available to meet basic needs. She's constantly :,erambling to keep her utilities from being cut off for unpaid bills and figure out how to quiet the rumbling bellies of her children. The problem is, she's usually just circumventing one crisis after another, never gaining enough financial security to turn the tide. It's not because she doesn't know how to manage money or to set priorities. It's because she doesn't have the money. It's that simple. And that has to do with how much she gets paid. And what you, McDonald's and Walmart, refuse to pay her, we the taxpayers have to make up for (and we don't do an adequate job of that!). A study released in October by the National Employment Law Project figured that 52 percent of fast food workers rely on public assistance, at a cost of nearly $7 billion a year. , So, would hiking the minimum wage improve things? (Some activists will be picketing Walmart on '. Black Friday to demand that the minimum wage be i almost doubled to $15 an hour.) Economists disagree on what affect raising the minimum wage would have i on the economy. Some argue that workplaces would i simply find ways to shrink employment, to outsource , or mechanize operations further, which could mean I fewer jobs, not more and better paying ones. , I'm not a whiz at economics, but I'll tell you what ;I have observed in the heartland for many years. ! People are losing their income, or are afraid of losing i their income, and they feel (often quite accurately) that they are living riskier lives. The natural, i "responsible" reaction is to quit spending. Pay down i debt. Go without. As a result, demand has been decimated in our i economy. The real "job creators" -- consumers like you and me and the stock clerk at Walmart -- aren't spending money and therefore are not creating jobs. What do you think a $10 minimum wage would do .to aggregate demand? How about $12.50 or $15? Maybe somebody should ask Henry Ford, who knew that a well-paid workforce was good for business. I also know this: A lot of blood, sweat and tears were shed in this country to obtain the working conditions and wage levels we take for granted. Which reminds me of some other choice advice from the McResource line: "Quit complaining. Stress hormone levels rise by 15 percent after 10 minutes of complaining." To heck with stress! What this country needs is a raise. (Mary Sanchez is an opinion-page columnist for The Kansas City Star. Readers may write to her at'. Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 64108-1413, or via e-mail at msanchez. ALL00ILK.00 The forgotten winter war But after four months of hard fighting, superior numbers told. Finland had to cede the territory the Soviets demanded, and more. The peace lasted 15 months. After dividing Poland between them, the Germans turned on their former ally and attacked the Soviet Union. Finland saw this as an opportunity to regain lost territory and renewed hostilities, fighting alongside Germany. This led to one of the greatest ironies of the war. Finnish Jews fought alongside the Wehrmacht, the grandfather of a Finnish friend amongthem. Several were nominated for the Iron Cross, but refused. The way my Finnish friend put it was, "When the b@#*s are coming at you shooting, you don't inquire too closely about the man next to you shooting back." Finland walked a tightrope throughout the war. Their war policy was to make it plain they were fighting the Soviet Union as co-belligerents of the Third Rqich, not allies. They generally stopped military operations at their pre-war borders. They declined to advance to Leningrad to complete the encirclement of the city, and ceased operations that threatened the Murmansk route of American aid to the Soviets. The Finns also flatly refused demands by the Nazis to take any anti-Jewish measures. The end of the war saw concessions of territory by Finland, reparations paid to the USSR, and the lease of a naval base with right of passage to the Soviets. It also saw brief fighting with the Wehrmacht to expel them from Finland. But they kept their Last Saturday, Nov. 30, was the 74th anniversary of the beginning of a forgotten war, the Soviet invasion of Finland, called the Talvisota in Finnish, and the Zirnnyaya Woyna in Russian. The Red Army, which possessed three times as many soldiers as Finland, 30 times as many aircraft, and a hundred times as many tanks, poured across the border in 1939, three months after the beginning of World War II. The ostensible goal was to take a strip of border territory the Soviets regarded as essential for their security. Leningrad (now again St. Petersburg) was only about 25 miles from the border. Some claim the goal was to totally absorb Finland into the USSR and make it a province of a Great Russian state again. The Soviets demanded the territory and offered some in exchange. The Finns refused, the Soviets attacked without warning as they had Poland. The Finns, though vastly outnumbered, had the home field advantage and high morale. The Soviets were hampered by Stalin's Great Purge of 1937 when the officer corps of the Red Army had been virtually wiped out, leaving only loyal" or terrified subordinates in command. Volunteers from Sweden, Estonia (where the language is essential a Finnish dialect) and America came to fight for Finland. They learned to improvise to make up for lack of materiel. Few now remember how the homemade gasoline bomb came to be named for Vyacheslav Molotov, Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars. Steve Browne Independent Writer Copytight 2012 Steve Browne independence and maintained it throughout the Cold War. They were not a satellite state like the countries of Eastern Europe, and though they had a communist presence in their parliament, I can testify from personal knowledge their attitude towards the Soviets was one of open truculence. When my parents traveled from Finland to Russia back in the 1980s their Finnish tour guide told them, "Some things are better in the Soviet Union. They have a better neighbor than we do." One sign of Finland's commitment to being Western is that virtually all young people in Finland are fluent in English, far fewer in Russian, though Russia is next door. It's significant also that private gun ownership in Finland is the fifth highest in the world, and in Europe neck- and-neck with Switzerland. Since I was reminded of this anniversary I've been trying to think of lessons that might be learned. One is, of course, that life is complicated. The hammering the Red Army took from the Finns in the Winter War forced them to make significant reforms that put them in better shape for the next round. Their relationship with Germany went from enemy to co-belligerent to enemy again within the space of a few years. Another is that sometimes you have to hold your nose and do something that stinks to survive, but you always have to draw the line somewhere. But most of all, I think, is the virtue of what the Finns call "Sisu." It's hard to translate without being wordy, but it means: guts, toughness, strength of will in the face of adversity, never giving up or giving in despite repeated failure, resilience, grit. SisuI Steve Browne is an award-winning reporter and columnist who entered journalism by accident while living and working in Eastern Europe from 1991 to 2004. He is the author of two books for English students: "Word Pictures: English as it is REALLY Used," published in Belgrade, Yugoslavia and Novosibirsk, Russia, and "English Linguistic Humor: Puns, Play on Words, Spoonerisms, and Shaggy Dog Stories." In 1997 he was elected an Honorary Member of the Yugoslav Movement for the Protection of Human Rights. He is currently living in his native Midwest, which he considers "the most interesting foreign country I have ever lived in." Privatization To the editor: Since the early 1980s, the United States been driven from a balanced government/private sector relationship towards more private sector control. The movement is generally labeled "privatization." The drive behind privatization was illustrated brilliantly in a recent letter by David Strand of Aitkin titled, "Why Do They Hate Obamacare?" It's aU about the money and saving their sacred cash cow. It has nothing to do with providing affordable health care for millions of uninsured, underinsured, and controlling health care costs for everyone. Using health care as an example, in almost every other industrialized country in the world, health care is considered a basic human need and therefore included in the social safety net provided by their governments. There is no argument about who is covered and what limitations are placed on their care. Health care is simply there for everyone. It is paid for through general taxing policies or taxes specifically targeted toward health care starting with your first paycheck. Everyone pays, everyone benefits. All conditions are covered. Decisions are made by the patient and health care providers, not by profit- motivated health insurance companies and other hangers-on to the health care gravy trains. Here at home, the Affordable Care Act is a start in the right direction, but at least 25% of the public, like me, believe it doesn't go far enough. Health care should be treated the same lil FARMERS INDEPENDENT ')1][ Published every Wednesday at Bagley, Clearwater County, Minnesota f--"qlff lk3 !m[ USPS 187-720 Periodical Postage paid at Post Office, Bagley, MN 56621 (r 11 By FARMERS PUBLISHING COMPANY, INC. p.o. Box 130- Bagley, MN 56621 IF 'BP [1 Subscription rates: $26 a year in these towns: Bagley, Clearbrook, Gonvick, Leonard, Pinewood, dLg llmt.ml ; MI Shevlin. ($14.00 six months); $30.00 a year or $16 for six months in these towns: Fosston, Gully, 321AI, IP# r [ Lake Itasca, Lengby, Solway, Trail. All other locations (in USA) $38.00 a year ($20 for six months).  A p 1[1 Snowbird: Add $5.00 per year for those in local area who travel south for the winter (those heading "/ 1[1 south who do not subscribe as "snowbirds" will have regular subscription shortened by one month to [11 make up for difference in postage); student 9 - month rate is $28.00. jrdj aat .thA-p aa ]|1 The Publisher shall not be liable for slight changes and typographical errors that do not lessen the J ]g.l[ 4[ Sfa[.ff.#'l 0" 111 value of an advertisement. The Publisher's liability for other errors or omissions in connection with an advertisement is strictly limited to 111 publication of the advertisement in any subsequent issue or the refund of any monies paid for the advertisement. The Publisher reserves the right to reject any advertisement. . . [[ This newspaper ts printed on recycled newsprint. Ill Thomas Ilrford -- Manager/Editor Adeltae Nelson -- Mailroom " ][ Ciera Hartmana -- Ad Compositor Ill Trleia Mathis0n -- Production Teresa Olson -- Bookkeeper Karen Edelbach -- "I'yp(etterAKepor t er [|[ BOARD OF DIRECTORS: Darol Melby -- President Tamara Edevold -- Vice President - Jim Michel -- Seeretary/Treasuer Ill Director*: Tom Laon, Mary Hayea, Ted Olson and Sherry Rettmann Ill THE MISSION OF THE FARMERS INDEPENDENT: Ill To constantly strive for excellence and integrity in serving a growing community with local news. as national security, public education, food and drug safety, environment protection, patent and copyright laws...many others as an integral part of our socio/economic infrastructure. It's simply in the air we breathe. So what would be the positive effect of health care for everyone? First, look at a few things eliminated: - Medicare, Medicaid, and Military/VA hospitals would just be part of Health Care. - One-time enrollment with no questions about pre-existing conditions or your financial status. - Elimination of health insurance companies so there are no plans to choose from. This alone would save at least 20 percent of our $3 trillion a year health care costs while reducing profit-motivated restrictions on care. - But perhaps the biggest positive effects would come from returning control of real health care back to the actual providers - the doctors, nurses, labs, pharmacies, and hospitals whose equipment, knowledge and training we all depend on for our actual care. Insurance company CEOs and administrative staffs provide no care, just additional costs and care constraints. Secondly, Health Care for all would free entrepreneurs and businesses at all levels to invest in creative ventures without fear of unexpected health care-induced failure; workers could move more freely from one company or region to another; veterans could be treated at nearest facilities; state health care insurance boundaries would disappear... other advantages too numerous to list. This drive toward privatization of basic human needs like health care leads one to look at other essential government services that are encouraged to "privatize." For example, privately owned FARMERS INDEPENDENT, Bagley, Minnesota - Pase 8 Sen. David Long s bold play for an Article V convention Fed up with Washington? Angry that elections don't seem to matter when it comes time to solving problems? Disgusted by the , polarization that puts politicians' careers ahead of taxpayer interests? Frustrated because you don't think anything can be done about it? Indiana State Senator David Long (R-Ft. Wayne) has experienced all of these feelings, but has chosen not to accept the status quo. He has a plan for returning power to the people where the Founders wanted it to reside. Long is promoting an unused section of the U.S. Constitution as the ultimate check on big government. Article V provides two paths to amending the Constitution. One is through two-thirds of both houses of Congress, followed by ratification by three-fourths of the states. The other begins at the state level, where two-thirds of the legislatures ask Congress to call "a convention for proposing amendments." States would send delegates to this convention to propose amendments to the Constitution. Then, three-fourths of the states would ratify any amendments approved by the convention, either by their legislatures or special ratifying conventions. Long notes that the Founders wanted the states to be able to amend the Constitution as a means of checking a runaway federal government. They understood human nature and its lust for power. In a telephone conversation, Sen. Long claims the biggest objection to an Article V convention is that those who participate might take the opportunity to engage in mischief and wreck the Constitution. But, he says, the ability of delegates to go beyond the limits set by their respective legislatures would be clearly restricted and delegates who attempt to exceed their authority would be removed. The Indiana legislature has passed two measures that would, according to Long, "Require delegates to take an oath to uphold the state and U.S. Constitutions and abide by any instructions given to delegates by the General Assembly." It also establishes "Indiana's intention to send two delegates and two alternate delegates to an Article V convention." Writing in Federalist No. 85, Alexander Hamilton expressed faith in the states to control out-of-control government: "We may safely rely on the disposition of the State legislatures to erect barriers against the encroachments of the national authority." Long says he has commitments from representatives of at least 26 state legislatures to attend a Dec. 7 meeting at George Washington's home in Mt. Vernon, Va. The goal is "not to decide on any amendment to be considered, but to put together a structure on how a convention will be run." Once that structure is in place, the convention would hope to establish a framework for reigning in overspending, overtaxing and over-regulating by the federal government and moving toward a less centralized federal government. I asked him if any Democrats have signed on. "We've tried to get Democrats involved, but the Democratic Party is pushing back hard to keep any Democrats from attending." Long says while one California Democratic legislator has expressed interest, he thinks that Southern and some Western states (but not California) will get behind the idea, though he admits achieving the goal will be difficult. Because both parties have failed to curtail the escalating size, reach and cost of centralized government, Long says, "States' rights have been trampled -- rendering the 10th amendment, (which protects state rights), almost meaningless." He adds, "The bigger modern-day threat to America is not a runaway convention, but a runaway federal government." Call it a "Long shot," but it is one worth attempting. The Preamble to the Constitution begins: "We the people." It is the people who lend power to the federal government. If the people lend it, the people can also reclaim it when government exceeds its constitutional authority. Sen. David Long may have discovered the only path left for attaining fiscal solvency. If he succeeds, future generations might recall Dec. 7, not only for Pearl Harbor, but for the beginning of a second American Revolution. (Readers may e-mail Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribune.com. ) Quotable quote... "Taxation with representation ain't so hot either." Gerald Barzan prisons are increasing to handle overflow of prison sentences due to recent tough, long-term sentencing rules for even minor non-violent crimes. Pivate owners cheer these roles to keep their spaces filled and encourage expansion. Another example is privatization of military functions. Military units used to be self-reliant, able to be dispatched to any part of the world without civilian support. During the last two wars in Iraq, companies such as Halliburton moved in and took over many support roles at great cost and reduced efficiency. In both of these examples, the government (us folks) pay the profiteers at much higher cost. Privatization of vital government services to "Promote the General Welfare" as stated in the Preamble to the Constitution has been a costly failure for all but the 2 percent at the top. Lee Punier Park Rapids ) i