This week: corporate profit-taking, local boycott-making, statewide labor law-shaking, and nearly Shark Week making.
We are the wind beneath their things
Big companies are using more and more of their profits just to reward shareholders, instead of investing in their own operations or workforce — with major implications on productivity growth and inequality. It hasn’t been this way forever: as recently as the 1960s, corporations invested 40% of resources back into their operations. Since the 1980s, it’s been less than 10%.
Local legend holds that Boeing used to invest in people too. The folktales date back long before the company announced its much recent self-satirizing bonus scheme: Machinists get 3.1%, engineers 4.8%, and managers 12.5%, 17.5%, or 22.5% — depending on how high they rank in the organizational hierarchy.
Watch out Carrie Brownstein, we’re coming for you next
The people of the Seattle area are second-best in the nation when it comes to boycotting companies that behave badly — a remarkable 27% of people in the Seattle metropolitan area report that they are currently choosing to buy or not buy products based on their social and political values.
Portland, Oregon came in first, but we have a plan to win: let's boycott that whole damn city until they get $15/hour too.
Like taking a zamboni to workers rights
The Wisconsin State Senate moved quickly to pass newly introduced right-to-work legislation that undermines the power of union members in that state, and the bill is expected to become law shortly. It’s another example of how, at its root, rising inequality is about power — not education, skills, economic change, or any other convenient excuse.
That said, sometimes power issues from unlikely places — like, apparently, the junior hockey league. As it turns out, Little Hockey has a shot at skating a bill through the legislature which would exempt their industry from labor laws — because L&I recently investigated the for-profit league for child labor violations and they threatened to move back to Canada in a huff. If this proposal doesn't get iced, expect an Ultimate Frisbee team and a hackey-sack tournament to put in for their own special loopholes next year.
Here’s the kicker...
Wolverines have returned to Washington State, surprising those who thought they were just college football mascots or comic book characters, no closer to reality than Rep. Matt Manweller’s arguments against the minimum wage.
A great white shark has been attacking seals off the coast of Washington. The Daily News reported one seal victim was found postmortem on the beach with "a stomach full of smelt and no legs” in a photo they were only willing to publish in pixelated form. (No, seals don’t really have legs to begin with.)
And an apparently housetrained pot-bellied pig that walks on a leash was found wandering the streets of Spokane with nowhere to go. For shame: if the minimum wage were higher, she could afford to go to market and maybe even afford roast beef every once in a while.