Missouri Politics Catch Up Day

Claire McCaskill is making news, and it’s not a good sign for liberals. Here is the header on an article at Politico:

The article suggests that McCaskill and other “moderate” Democrats are “looking for ways to roll back the highly contentious individual mandate,” and that’s not all:

The senators are prepared to break with the White House on a wide range of issues: embracing deeper spending cuts, scaling back business regulations and overhauling environmental rules.

While there was no hard evidence presented to support these assertions, and while McCaskill has been a fairly solid supporter of President Obama, McCaskill did find herself prominently featured in a segment on The Rachel Maddow Show, in which Saint Rachel mailed a life-sized cutout of former Senator Blanche Lincoln—who ran away from the Democratic Party and got trounced in Arkansas—to remind McCaskill of what will happen if she waxes Lincolnesque in Missouri:


FiredUp!Missouri alerted us to an outstanding piece at the Riverfront Times by Chad Garrison.  Provocatively but understandably titled, “Does Making Missouri More ‘Job Friendly’ Always Require Screwing the Working Class?” Mr. Garrison explores the consequences of our fanatically “pro business” anti-worker Republican legislature:

One of the proposals would repeal Missouri’s minimum wage law, allowing employers to pay low-wage employees even less. Another would make it easier to terminate employees. Also in the sights of Missouri legislators is an effort to eliminate the state income tax and replace it with a higher sales tax — a move that allows poorer Missourians to shoulder more of the state’s tax burden.

I recommend all readers go to the site and read the entire piece, which among other things discusses Missouri’s 2006 Proposition B. The initiative passed in every county in Missouri and statewide garnered 76% of the vote, in support of raising the state minimum wage and indexing it to inflation. Garrison points out that Darden Restaurants, which has two franchises in Joplin—Red Lobster and Olive Garden—donated $25,000 to an effort to kill the proposition.  Various McDonald’s also donated money to stop the effort to raise the minimum wage.

As Garrison notes, the beef with the wage mandate is this:

Missouri law states that tipped employees must be paid half of the prevailing minimum wage (a.k.a. $3.63 per hour), which is more than the federal law for tipped employees of $2.13.

Oh my God. Pay them $3.63? Why, that’s outrageous.

All Missouri workers should read Garrison’s piece, especially those working stiffs tempted to support Republicans, who are doing everything they can to wage war on those who make the country what it is.  Garrison links to an organized effort in Missouri to change Missouri’s labor laws—which are already heavily tilted in favor of employers—to make them even more anti-worker.


Closer to home, Ozark Billy Long made the local paper.  The front page of Sunday’s Joplin Globe prominently featured an article on the possible elimination of a federal program that subsidizes airline service to about 150 cities around the country, including here in Joplin.  Whoops!  When we sent Ozark Billy to Washington to shrink the government, we didn’t mean shrink the part of the government that makes life easier for business travelers and other local bigwigs who can afford to pay the expensive fares to fly out of Joplin!

Our airport manager and city officials, according to the paper, say the subsidized service is “a vital link to economic development.”  Yeah, that’s what they all say.  These officials will, of course, lobby our legislators to keep the subsidy in place.

As for Ozark Billy, the Globe points out that he is a member of the House Republican Study Committee, a radical bunch of tea partiers that has already proposed killing the subsidy program, which will pay American Eagle nearly $3 million annually for service to Dallas twice a day.

But the paper reported that Ozark Billy “wasn’t sure where he might come down on the proposal.”  Ah…It’s so easy to talk all that smack about cutting government spending, as long as it is spending on the poor or the working class.  Cut! Cut! Cut! says our congressman. But when it involves cutting subsidies for business travelers and wealthy jetsetters, it gets a little harder for some Republicans.

[Photo: Globe/T. Rob Brown]


  1. ansonburlingame

     /  February 9, 2011


    Quoting you above you said “… those working stiffs tempted to support Republicans, who are doing everything they can to wage war on those who make the country what it is.”

    So I suppose (correct me if I am wrong) that “working stiffs” are the people making America, America, right?

    I didn’t know that, that one “class” of people made America. I thought it was more of a “melting pot” from a class perspective. ALL classes make America what it is was what I learned long ago in elementary school.

    What you have said, actually repeated over and over again, is the political mantra of the left. And it to my ear is nothing but pure class warfare, over and over again.

    When both the left and the right figure out how to stop robbing Peter to pay Paul, one way or the other, we might find some solutions for ALL Americans, not just your prefered group that in fact only make up a “slice” of America.



    • Anson,

      Your class warfare complaint is best directed at your Republican friends, who have been waging a kind of war on the working class for thirty years now. And, if it makes you feel any better, the Republicans are winning.



  2. ansonburlingame

     /  February 9, 2011


    As far as federal subsidies for local airports and airlines goes, I believe we must stop it, once and for all. I do not discount the need for such service as a stimulous for business or “stimulous” for tourism (rich folks traveling OUT of Joplin to go somewhere interesting).

    But I also see no constitutional call for such federal action in such matters. Leave it to the states or local communities is the right approach in my view.

    Not a pleasant idea for local folks. But if anyone calls for limits on federal government they better be able to take the bad with the good. This is one we, locally, cannot afford and neither can the federal government.



  3. Jo Langley

     /  February 9, 2011

    Mr. Graham,
    I have been following your blog with some interest for the last few months. And, let me say, we long time liberal Democrats ALWAYS welcome converts!! Especially when it’s in SW Missouri.

    I feel I must reply to your comments regarding the subsidies of the Joplin airport. Particularly your comments about the “business travelers and other local bigwigs who can afford to pay the expensive fares to fly out of Joplin”.

    My husband is a business traveler. He has worked and struggled extremely hard for 30 years to get us into what many would call middle class. We both have been working class people all of our lives. He has no choice but to travel by air. He works all over the world, and sometimes travels for 2 or 3 days to get to his destination, sometimes enduring 17-18 hour flights before getting on another 6 or 7 hour flight.
    I don’t know when the last time is that you flew, but it is an arduous thing. He does not even get to sit in business class, but in what I call the “cattle car” section, because that’s what it feels like. Imagine doing that for 17 or 18 hours at a time.

    Granted my husband is not your typical business traveler. He doesn’t even own a suit. His blue jeans and t-shirts are his travel attire, and his work attire. He gets off these long flights, then travels by boat or helicopter to a work boat where he stays for 4 to 6 weeks at a time, often without seeing land until that helicopter comes back after him. Then he gets back on those long flights to come home.

    So, you see, anything that makes his life a little easier, and his travel time a little shorter is a good thing to us. So, avoiding that 2-4 hour trip to get him to and from another airport is a good thing to us. His company believes that also, even though he isn’t a “bigwig”.

    The Joplin airport was at one time self-sustaining. It can be again. Even a liberal Democrat such as myself believes an airport is vital to the economic growth of a community. Most of all I hope it becomes affordable enough that my daughter and grandchildren can come via airplane to visit rather than driving 6 hours from the DFW area. That will only happen if we all support these efforts. Then we won’t need the subsidies.


    • Mrs. Langley,

      Thanks for your thoughtful and informative response. I am glad to be a convert and glad we are on the same side, and I’m sorry I joined the fight rather late. I only travel by air at best about twice a year, firmly planted in the cattle car section. And by the way, it sounds like your husband has an interesting life.

      I have written about the Joplin airport issue five times now, mostly in the context of Republican hypocrisy. They label the airport subsidy as an “investment,” which, like you, I tend to agree with, but then when a Democrat says we need to invest in other things, Republicans tend to recoil in horror. (You can read my previous posts here and here and here and here, as well as the accompanying comments, if you want to see what I have written previously about the issue.)

      Even though I didn’t say so this time, I don’t mind the airport subsidy at all, except for this: If Republicans are going to cut programs for the poor or working class and leave things like airport subsidies in place, then I have a problem with that. And I’m guessing you would too. I think we can both invest in our economy, through things like airport subsidies, and invest in our people, through things like Pell grants, and so on. It’s just that when it comes to investing in our people, Republicans suddenly get worried about the deficit.

      As for myself, I can’t afford to fly out of Joplin, so I find it hard how the service will be self-sustaining via greater use of it. But then maybe I’m just a lot more economically challenged than the average Globe blogger.

      Thanks again for your thoughts, and I apologize for not restating my past concession that the airport subsidy may, indeed, be a legitimate investment in our community.



  4. Jane Reaction

     /  February 9, 2011

    Been there, know the feeling, my sympathy for those 20-seat planes too, but offshore hourly employees unfortunately are considered a cost center, and I will bet the company doesn’t reimburse Mr. Langly for his travel time either.

    Joplin Intergalactic Airport, with it’s Federally-stimulated new terminal and tower, swallowed whole by the Chamber of Commerce cheering staff, was approved during a period when there was NO scheduled service into Joplin whatsoever!

    I suppose then, in Economic Development Mythology, it is no big deal to subsidize, at roughly $83 dollars each way, the roughly 56 people who use the airline each day.

    My guess is that even with robust airline competition which made flying JLN even cheaper, said service would likely be insufficient attraction for anyone to base a major investment there. Unless, of course, 7th District Congressclown Long, gets that pesky minimum wage down to $2.13, where we become very ‘competitive’.


  5. ansonburlingame

     /  February 10, 2011

    To all,

    Mrs. Langley raises an interesting perspective which I have not considered to any degree.

    I traveled extensively on business for only about two years (95-97) and it was terrible. To think of doing such travel for a career is simply unthinkable to me. But I will point out so thinks that helped to mitigate (but in no way eliminate) the turmoil of such travel.

    I “lived” near a major metropolitian area (LA) so “puddle jumping” was not required every time I left “home”. If I knew extensive weekly or monthly travel would be mandatory for my financial livelihood, I would make such an area my permanent home. Lots of airline personnel, pilots, attendants, etc do exactly such.

    Of course living in more rural areas has great benefit to family, which I did not have during my travel years. It would have become a personal choice (trade off) to sit in a puddle jumper or drive to a metropolitan area in such a case.

    As such federal government subsidies to make that an easier choice for me and my family would still be just that, federal assistance to make life easier, but not vital to my livelihood.

    Another learned strategy for flying for me was to minimize connections, particularly in northern airports. LA/NY or DC was usually very reliable. But stop off in east wherever and lord only knows how many things can go haywire.

    Cost, even when flying is paid for by an employer is a consideration as well. Looks like a “real” ticket Jop/Dallas should be around $200 one way. That buys a lot of gas to drive to Springfield or Tulsa. And the time spent in such a drive (1.5 hours) would be less than the layover in Dallas in many cases. Over time my guess is time would be a “wash” in such alternative travel arrangements.

    While no help to Mrs. Langley’s husband, my guess today is that technology is making air travel less appealing from a business expense perspective. Network meetings rather than face to face is certainly much more cost effective, except for the “smuzhing (spl)”. If technology provides increasing alternatives to business travel that will decrease the number of travelers and thus drive costs for everyone else up, including Mr. Langely or his company.

    And then of course Jane insinuates that some greedy capitalist is shirking his “duty” by not paying Mr. Langley for his time in travel to his job. I suppose some labor union could try that ploy in a contract negotiation for hourly employees traveling to an off shore rig or such work. I wonder how that would affect job growth for such workers however.

    I do not discount in any way the trama involved in such travel. But that trama becomes part of of the choices made by individuals and businesses. I don’t see why the federal government should try to make those choices “easier” or more conveinent, at least when the federal “pot” is so limited today.

    And for sure subsidizing vacationers from Joplin, well …….!



    • Anson,

      I don’t know why this part of what you wrote struck me wrong, but you said:

      And then of course Jane insinuates that some greedy capitalist is shirking his “duty” by not paying Mr. Langley for his time in travel to his job. I suppose some labor union could try that ploy in a contract negotiation for hourly employees traveling to an off shore rig or such work. I wonder how that would affect job growth for such workers however.

      Implicit in that comment is the fact that employees’ time isn’t worth a damn thing, as far as what appears to be your conception of the relationship between employee and employer. It’s an expected part of most jobs that you are responsible for getting to and from work on your own. We all know that. But in some cases, getting to work might routinely take several hours, such as the case with Mrs. Langley’s husband. Now, you suggest that an employer might not hire a worker whose union was able to negotiate compensation for lost time due to extensive traveling. I don’t understand that at all. As I said, it appears that, in your world, employees should sacrifice substantial chunks of their lives without any expectation that their employers owe them something for it.

      As I said, it just struck me wrong.



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