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Opinion: Minimum Wage Hike Will Benefit City Long-Term

March 8, 2017 Economy, Featured Comments Off on Opinion: Minimum Wage Hike Will Benefit City Long-Term
2013 Picket in front of Wendy’s in Rock Hill on August 26th

Poverty is a major problem in the region — especially in the City of St. Louis, from January 2014:

The Missourians to End Poverty coalition released a report Wednesday showing that poverty was up in the St. Louis area and statewide. In St. Louis County, 12.1 percent of the population was impoverished in 2012, up from 11.9 percent the previous year, according to the report. In the city of St. Louis, 29.3 percent of residents were impoverished, an increase from the 2011 figure of 27.2 percent.

Poverty in the state increased in 2012 to 16.2 percent — or nearly 948,000 people — from 15.8 percent in 2011. (Post-Dispatch)

It’s true that poor people spend nearly every dime they get — budgets just aren’t big enough for saving.  Low-wage workers who get a few bucks extra per week will put that money back into the local economy. Granted, some short-sighted employers will scale back employee’s hours to keep them impoverished. Reduced employees can lead to lower service and customer dissatisfaction.  Still other employers will accept reduced profit margins because their revenue & profits depend on billable hours.

Crime is often a result of poverty conditions, so reducing poverty is a way to reduce crime. I know many of you see this increase in the minimum wage as a disaster. I think it’ll actually not be a significant of a shift either way, though I do think the long-term prospects are good provided wages increase beyond 2018’s $11/hour.

Readers who voted in the Sunday Poll were split, with the agree/disagree trading places throughout the day:

Q: Agree or disagree: The increase in St. Louis’ minimum wage will be a long-term net positive for the city.

  • Strongly agree 12 [25%]
  • Agree 12 [25%]
  • Somewhat agree 5 [10.42%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 2 4.17%]Somewhat disagree 5 [10.42%]
  • Disagree 5 [10.42%]
  • Strongly disagree 6 [12.5%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 1 [2.08%]

I refuse to buy into the widespread job loss fear-mongering from those who want to keep people impoverished.

— Steve Patterson


Credit Card Technology Changes Today

October 1, 2015 Crime, Economy, Featured, Retail 3 Comments
By May 2014 the Target on Hampton had these new readers with an EMV slot
By May 2014 the Target on Hampton had these new readers with an EMV slot

Our current credit & debit cards are different than they were decades ago. In the mid-80s, during high school & college, I worked at Toys “R” Us and Dillard’s. In those days we made an impression of the credit card to document the transaction, the credit card number was entered manually to get approval. Sometimes we had to call in to get an authorization number.

The magnetic strip on credit cards came later, greatly simplifying transactions.   The technology was developed in the late 60s, but it took a long time to get ir on credit cards and for retailers to be equipped to swipe cards rather than complete an embossed charge receipt. Eventually the magnetic strip became ubiquitous. Criminals also found many ways to exploit the weaknesses.

The magnetic stripe on credit cards — which fraudsters can pull credit card numbers and expiration dates from to make counterfeit cards. (NPR)

NPR continues:

Other countries moved beyond this technology years ago. The U.K., Canada and Hong Kong are already using chip-based cards, which are considered more secure. (Magnetic stripe technology is decades old.) Cards using the chip-and-PIN system have an embedded microchip. Instead of swiping the part with a magnetic stripe, you put the card into a terminal, then enter a PIN or sign your name. It’s more expensive for criminals to forge these cards, says Brian Krebs, a security journalist who writes for Krebs on Security and broke the story on the breach at Target.

Several of our cards have the new chips, called EMV:

EMV chip technology is becoming the global standard for credit card and debit card payments. Named after its original developers (Europay, MasterCard® and Visa®), this technology features payment instruments (cards, mobile phones, etc.) with embedded microprocessor chips that store and protect cardholder data. This standard has many names worldwide and may also be referred to as: “chip and PIN” or “chip and signature.” (Chase)

In 2013 local grocery chain Schnucks was breached, leading many to stolen credit card numbers. National retailers were also hacked. October 1, 2015 — today — was set as a deadline to switch to the EMV cards. However, this wasn’t a government mandate.

After an Oct. 1, 2015, deadline created by major U.S. credit card issuers MasterCard, Visa, Discover and American Express, the liability for card-present fraud will shift to whichever party is the least EMV-compliant in a fraudulent transaction. (CreditCards.com)

So retailers have been updating their credit card terminals to prepare for today’s deadline. Yesterday, at IKEA, the restaurant cashier put my EMV-chip card in the slot rather than swipe it. Later, at FedEx Office (aka Kinko’s) the terminal had the slot but the employee didn’t know when it would be activated. Target recently sent us new EMV RedCard debit cards — but not the RedCard credit cards we currently use.  We just got a new credit card within the last couple of weeks — it didn’t include an EMV chip. Yesterday the issuer said we’d have replacements by the end of October with EMV chips.

Some retailers, in updating their terminals, have added NFC/contactless capability.

NFC (near-field communication) allows two devices placed within a few centimeters of each other to exchange data. In order for this to work, both devices must be equipped with an NFC chip. 

In the real world, there are a essentially two ways this works. 

Two-way communication: This involves two devices that can both read and write to each other. For example, using NFC, you can touch two Android devices together to transfer data like contacts, links, or photos. 

One-way communication: Here, a powered device (like a phone, credit card reader, or commuter card terminal) reads and writes to an NFC chip. So, when you tap your commuter card on the terminal, the NFC-powered terminal subtracts money from the balance written to the card. (CNET)

My husband’s iPhone has been able to utilize this technology for payment for a year, I just got a new iPhone with this ability — ApplePay. Others include Google Pay & Samsung Pay. Confused yet?

Basically you want to avoid your cards being swiped. You want to use cards with a chip by inserting them in the chip readers. Not all retailers have to meet today’s deadline. Gas pumps, for example, have until 2017 to be updated.

If you accept credit cards you need to be working on updating ASAP, and training staff to insert EMV cards rather than swipe them. If you use plastic, be aware of the differences and how to use them, If your smartphone can make contactless payments I’d suggest using that. Samsung Pay will even work with older magnetic stripe terminals.

While we have these new EMV cards, our issuers don’t yet have the PIN number portion set up, so they’re Chip & signature for now.

— Steve Patterson


Readers: Room Rental Should Be Allowed

September 16, 2015 Economy, Politics/Policy 1 Comment

The results of the nonscientific Sunday Poll show support for short-term room rentals:

Q: Many St. Louis area municipalities frown on residents renting a room(s) for a few days at a time to strangers, similar to a hotel. Thoughts?

  1. Room rental should not be regulated, should be allowed 16 [51.61%]
  2. Boarding houses were outlawed for good reason 10 [32.26%]
  3. Unsure/No Opinion 4 [12.9%]
  4. Other: Compromise option: Have some regulation & education but otherwise leave open. 1 [3.23%]

This issue is being debated in one of 90 municipalities in St. Louis County:

Airbnb could be coming here after all.

The Maplewood City Council on Tuesday gave tentative approval to a measure to allow “short-term vacation rentals” in the residential district and to another that would establish regulations on them.

Last month when a motion to delay a bill to allow short-term rentals failed, City Manager Martin J. Corcoran said it couldn’t be reconsidered for six months. However, on Tuesday he said he misspoke in August and the delay wasn’t necessary. Therefore, the council considered the measure again. (Post-Dispatch)


— Steve Patterson


Sunday Poll: The Missouri legislature may attempt to override Gov Nixon’s June veto of right-to-work legislation. Which side are you on?

September 6, 2015 Economy, Featured, Politics/Policy, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: The Missouri legislature may attempt to override Gov Nixon’s June veto of right-to-work legislation. Which side are you on?
Please vote below
Please vote below

The national fight over ‘right-to-work’ has come to Missouri. In June Gov Nixon vetoed such legislation:

Missouri did not become the country’s 26th “right to work” state Wednesday: Gov. Jay Nixon issued a veto, setting up a clash with the state’s Republican-led Legislature.

The bill would have made it a misdemeanor for anyone to be required to become a union member, or to pay dues to a labor organization, as a condition of employment. Nixon, a Democrat, was expected to block the legislation, leaving state lawmakers to round up enough votes to override him. (LA Times)

I’m not going to get into the pros & cons now, I’ll save my views for Wednesday.  In the meantime, I thought this would be a good topic for today’s poll:

The answers are presented in random order, the poll closes at 8pm.

— Steve Patterson


Readers Split On Bill To Gradually Increase The Minimum Wage In St. Louis

Demonstrators in front of Wendy's in Rock Hill,  August 26, 2013
Demonstrators in front of Wendy’s in Rock Hill, August 26, 2013

Readers split on the question of raising the minimum wage in St. Louis.  Here are the results of the Sunday Poll:

Q: A bill introduced Friday would raise the minimum wage in St. Louis to $10/hr, with annual increases of $1.25/hr until reaching $15/hr in 2020. I…

  1. Strongly support 12 [25.53%]
  2. Oppose 11 [23.4%]
  3. Support 10 [21.28%]
  4. Strongly oppose 9 [19.15%]
  5. Neutral 3 [6.38%]
  6. Unsure/no opinion 2 [4.26%]

Support narrowly edged opposition 22-20.  The common argument against raising the minimum wage is that doing so would lead to inflation. That’s interesting, because the minimum wage hasn’t kept up with inflation:

Myth: The federal minimum wage goes up automatically as prices increase.

Not true: While some states have enacted rules in recent years triggering automatic increases in their minimum wages to help them keep up with inflation, the federal minimum wage does not operate in the same manner. An increase in the federal minimum wage requires approval by Congress and the president. However, in his call to gradually increase the current federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, President Obama has also called for it to adjust automatically with inflation. Eliminating the requirement of formal congressional action would likely reduce the amount of time between increases, and better help low-income families keep up with rising prices.
Myth: The federal minimum wage is higher today than it was when President Reagan took office.

Not true: While the federal minimum wage was only $3.35 per hour in 1981 and is currently $7.25 per hour in real dollars, when adjusted for inflation, the current federal minimum wage would need to be more than $8 per hour to equal its buying power of the early 1980s and more nearly $11 per hour to equal its buying power of the late 1960s. That’s why President Obama is urging Congress to increase the federal minimum wage and give low-wage workers a much-needed boost. (Minimum Wage Mythbusters — U.S. Dept of Labor)

Not raising the minimum wage means these people find it harder and harder to survive each year as most everyone else gets raises, and groceries and other goods go up in cost. People are also focusing on $15/hr — that rate isn’t happening soon anywhere — increases will be gradual:

Among the cities that have enacted even higher local minimums are San Francisco ($15 by 2018), Seattle ($15 by 2021), Chicago ($13 by 2019) and Washington, D.C. ($11.50 by 2016), according to the National Employment Law Project. (5 facts about the minimum wage — Pew Reseach)

I hope this bill passes.

— Steve Patterson






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