Mr. Obama could do a lot worse at his convention than embrace the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2012 (S. 3453/H.R. 6211), which would not only raise the minimum wage to $9.90/hr by 2014, and which would not only index the minimum wage to inflation, but would raise the tipped employee minimum wage to $6.85/hr over five years (and ensure that figure would be 70% of the non-tipped minimum wage thereafter). I guess the "we built it!" sect will whine that small businesses just won't be able to handle the shock, thus demonstrating a lack of familiarity with the phrase "phased-in over several years." Or they'll claim that a minimum wage hike will just result in more workers getting fired, but a) corporations use any excuse to do that anyway! and b) if that's a law of physics, then why does Australia continue to enjoy 5% official unemployment "despite" its $15-plus/hr minimum wage? NETWORK, the national Catholic social justice lobby, helps you tell your Congressfolk to support the Fair Minimum Wage Act. Feel free to modify the letter so that you anticipate and refute counterarguments.
Meanwhile, despite all the counsel we've given the Obama Administration, they've given Shell Oil a "preliminary" permit to drill in the Chukchi Sea in the Arctic. Interior Secretary Salazar -- who really should only be Interior Secretary of the Grand Canyon, since that's the only place he's really protected -- said that the Obama Administration would be keeping a close eye on Shell, that, in fact, they would take the "utmost cautionary measures in the history of humankind." When someone resorts to that level of hyperbole, you know they're full of it. It gets better: Shell's oil spill response team is still holed up in Washington state, thousands of miles from where they'd be drilling! Not to mention, you know, that they'd be drilling in an area they know little about, and in an area that would be many orders of magnitude harder to clean up than the relatively temperate waters of the Gulf, which proved a bit intractable for BP during the late spring of 2010. So both Roots Action and the Alaska Wilderness League help you continue to voice your concerns to the Executive branch.
In other news, the school year begins tomorrow in most places, and cash-strapped school districts have resorted to commercial advertising more and more. You probably know all the big-corporate tricks by now: ads on school buses, soda and candy machines in hallways (which advertise sugary products even if kids fight off their urge to consume them for the moment), naming rights to athletic fields, fast food in school cafeterias, even "curriculum" for classrooms. You probably also know why advertising in schools is such a terrible idea: kids are a captive audience in public schools, kids are far more impulsive in their decision-making, and (perhaps most importantly) kids face a lot more advertising now than we did when we were kids; don't they deserve a sanctuary from all of that? Of course you probably already suspect that this mad quest for mammon doesn't hype school budgets: the largest school districts see less than three-tenths of one percentage point of their budgets from advertising. So Public Citizen helps you tell school districts to abandon corporate advertising.
Finally, gas drillers plan to hold another convention in Philadelphia during the middle of September, and we still plan to be there, in force, on Thursday, September 20, from noon to 3 pm, showing the gas drillers what people power looks like. You'd think they'd learn about having conventions in Philly, given that over two thousand protestors greeted them last time, creating such a stink that the legislature didn't have the guts to pass their big gas-drilling handout bill for months. Or maybe they think any PR is good PR, about which they're wrong. Anyway, Food and Water Watch still provides information about the rally, including how you might get there via bus or carpool, and the Sierra Club also provides more information, some relating to various other events that Thursday and Friday. Josh Fox, director of Gasland, will speak at the rally on Thursday. You remember Gasland, right? The movie with that famous setting-your-tap-water-on-fire scene? I'll bet you do.