It’s easy to get discouraged with all the national political tumult playing out on all media — constantly blaring into our eyes and ears. Many folks get discouraged — or even depressed at the constant barrage of Trumpist insults, congressional disfunction, and general rudeness and tribal behaviors.
But understanding we’ve got to put up with this for the time being, we can also look past the rancor to see that good things are actually happening. And last week’s happenings were good enough to feel good about.
What a great week for beer! We learned that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh LOVES beer. Loved it when he was an underage kid playing “Devil’s Triangle” (hint, that’s actually a sex act that would have been illegal at the time, not a beer game). So, beer got mixed up with sex. (That’s not the first time that happened…) One thing is certain, Brett loves beer! He said it 10 times if he said it at all. Beer!
Beer sales will be soaring. “Any publicity is good publicity,” and beer just got a mega-prime time endorsement. The Bud plant in Van Nuys will soon be hiring… if you need a job, which likely you don’t.
…And that you don’t likely need a job is also pretty good news. From Obama’s second year onward, America has been on a hiring tear and now, nine to 10 years into our economic expansion, employers are truly struggling to find people to hire. And that’s good news if you’re an employee.
Meanwhile, Amazon announced that starting Nov. 1, all (every last one) will now have a minimum wage of $15 per hour. And that’s everywhere in the U.S. Over 100,000 workers just got substantial raises.
Amazon just did what our Republican Congress would never have dreamed of doing. They just raised the wage floor for America at 15 bucks.
Who will work at Target for $11 if they can do Amazon for $15? Or Walmart? Or your local fast food joint? It may take months or maybe a year, but Amazon just threw down the wage gauntlet and sooner or later, all employers serious about keeping quality workers will have to pay that rate or more. Lower-end employees will finally be getting their due. But it took a giant to move the goal line.
And this won’t hurt business. A level playing field will emerge as everyone eventually adjusts. You’ll pay a tad more for your burger, for your landscaping, for your food. But eventually, the tens of millions of Americans at the bottom of the ladder will struggle less, be less of a burden on our social safety nets and will find themselves one ring higher on our economic ladder.
It’s been a long time coming. “Minimum wage” had essentially turned into a semi-slave wage, providing barely enough to house oneself, let alone feed oneself. So, all in all – this was darn good news for most Americans. CEO’s will shave a percent or two off their bonuses to get this deal done… Yes, we can swing this.
And Gov. Brown just signed a Net Neutrality bill for California. Tech industry leaders and consumer advocates are thrilled with the bold move. Our lobbyist-levered White House immediately filed suit against California, but so what’s new with that? California leads the nation and we’re headed into this fight to protect what is now essentially freedom of speech. So good for us!
Back in Washington, Trump won with a pretty good NAFTA replacement. While some say the changes are quite modest, still, all agree it’s a solid bill and we’ll bypass all the carnage of Trump tearing apart NAFTA without a suitable replacement. Good one here for Trump, and good for America and North America. We got a good thing done, regardless of your political affiliation. Maybe now, Trump could work on universal health care?
And let’s circle back around to the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. Look, it was a painful circus, but some important stuff came out of it. We saw a bunch of old white guys behaving badly in front of women and exposing themselves for what they are: privileged old white guys who are quickly being exposed as sexist anachronisms in Congress. Better we see them for what they are than to have them do their deeds in secret.
And we got to see a very poised Dr. Christine Blasey Ford stand up to power. Whether or not you agree with the hearing itself, isn’t it a great thing to see a confident American woman speak to authority respectfully but strongly? What a great example for all to see! Decency in the Senate. Imagine that.
And then there’s Brett Kavanaugh himself. Like him or not, we all got to see what he’s like under stress. Knowledge is power, one way or another. And we all just gained the power of information. Brett Kavanaugh likes beer. He likes to yell. He bullies people. He’s thinner skinned than many might want as a Supreme. And he’s politically aligned and he let it plainly be known. And now we know it’s time for Brett to step away and let Trump nominate a conservative with character of which we can all be proud.
So, while we may not like what we see in Kavanaugh, at least we’ve seen it and we know much more about what we’re getting into with him, for better or worse.
Indeed, when you look at the big picture overall, at America from 30,000 feet, last week things worked out OK.
And that’s something to feel pretty good about.
Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared on Wednesdays in The Signal since 2006.