Today’s News & Commentary — July 25, 2018

Published July 25th, 2018 -  - 07.25.182


Today, Bloomberg reported that for the first time in Google’s twenty-year history, the number of people working for the company who aren’t classified as Google employees exceeded the number who are. Google’s Alphabet Inc. employs thousands of contract workers, who wear red badges to distinguish them from full-fledged staff. Many of these laborers are skilled workers who may perform similar tasks to Google employees but receive significantly less pay and benefits. “Many of these workers don’t have a voice on the job. They don’t necessarily get the benefits that many of us think about when working at a big, glitzy tech company,” said Maria Noel Fernandez, campaign director for Silicon Valley Rising, a union-supported group based in San Jose, California, that advocates for higher wages and affordable housing. “And they’re not really part of this wealth.”

The Washington Post reported yesterday that President Trump will extend $12 billion in emergency assistance to farmers harmed by his trade policies. In response, the New York Times editorial board wrote that “a $12 billion farm bailout will not undo the damage the administration’s incoherent policies are doing to American industry and workers.” The majority of the subsidies, given through direct assistance, a food purchase and distribution program, and a trade promotion program, will go to soybean farmers. Tomorrow, President Trump will head to Iowa to meet face-to-face with soybean farmers, in the face of a threat by China, the biggest importer of soybeans, to cancel a 1.1 million ton order of their crop.

Conservative proponents of deregulation are already emboldened by President Trump’s Supreme Court pick of Brett Kavanaugh, reported Bloomberg. Trump administration appointees on a mission to rescind Obama-era rules related to labor and the environment are pursuing even more aggressive deregulatory agendas than before, motivated by their growing confidence that they will prevail in court. “It will embolden the business community to challenge existing regulations and increase the burden and risk for pro-labor, pro-consumer and pro-environment administrations to issue new protections in the future,” said Jordan Barab, who served as a deputy assistant secretary at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration during the Obama administration.

On the ninth anniversary of the last time the federal minimum wage was raise, former Deputy Secretary of Labor Chris Lu wrote about wage stagnation in today’s economy. “When I served as President Obama’s Deputy Secretary of Labor, my office displayed a government poster from 1950, when the minimum wage was lifted to 75 cents an hour under by President Truman,” he said. “While that figure seems remarkably low by modern standards, 75 cents went a lot further in 1950 than $7.25 does today. In fact, the buying power of the federal minimum wage is well below its peak in the late 1960s.”

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