The Rural Patriot

November 3, 2006

7 Days @ Minimum Wage; Wrap-up

Filed under: Federal Government,Minimum Wage,Poverty,Wages,working families — theruralpatriot @ 8:22 am

[NOTE: The following post is a comment posted in my last post from the series It is from Mr. Mike Doyle; Mr. Doyle is an interviewer for the series. His input is important, and I want to share his comment with the community.]

I invite anyone who hasn’t seen the video blog yet to come take a look at We originally expected to end the project after the initial week, but due to its success it’s been been extended through Election Day, November 7. The interviews are pretty stark and honest, and they’ve been viewed by more than 30,000 people since the project began on October 23 (they can also be seen on YouTube under the user name, “7daysatminimumwage”).

ACORN and AFL-CIO launched the blog as a way to get contemporary audiences to join in the national debate over fair wages. We hoped, naively or not, that Paul and Susan, Jessica, Jeffrey, and the other poverty-wage workers who agreed to tell their stories to America, would become Internet celebrities in the fight for social justice. That’s actually starting to happen. A few days ago, part one of Jessica’s harrowing interview, in which she describes raising four kids while getting a degree and begging her employer for full-time hours and benefits, became YouTube’s top video in the News & Blogs category (the real heartbreak is in part two, though, if you’re brave enough to watch it).



October 30, 2006

7 Days @ Minimum Wage – Day 7

The last story in this series: Day 7 – Mallory

On Day 7, Mallory shares her story of dreaming of a better future of education and independence, but facing no opportunities on a minimum wage paycheck.

This linked page contains all links for the prior six chapters.

This is my last plea for your involvement prior to election day.

Tell Congress: It’s Time for a REAL Vote to Raise the Minimum Wage. Send a letter to tell your U.S. representative and senators that when they get back to work after the election, they must put a clean vote to raise the minimum wage at the top of their agenda.

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) and the AFL-CIO are partners in a grassroots movement to do what the U.S. Congress refused to do. We urge voters in Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Nevada and Ohio to raise the minimum wage by voting “Yes” on November 7.

For more information, visit:

Please support this effort.

October 28, 2006

7 Days @ Minimum Wage – Day 6

Day 6 – Amanda

On Day 6, Amanda talks about missing the opportunity to do “normal” things with her family, like go to the movies or buy birthday presents for her siblings, because her minimum wage paycheck doesn’t cover the things she needs.

Day 1 – Paul & Susan
Day 2 – Erin
Day 3 – Jeffrey
Day 4 – Jessica
Day 5 – Chris

Will you contact Congress  or talk to friends/family in Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Nevada and/or Ohio to have them vote “Yes” on November 7 to increase the minimum wage?

October 27, 2006

7 Days @ Minimum Wage – Day 5

Day 5 – Chris

On Day 5, Chris tells a shocking American tale of day to day existence on the edge of homelessness. Without a regular 9-to-5 job, Chris searches for work everyday. If he can’t make $35 a day, he will lose his room and be forced onto the streets.

Day 1 – Paul and Susan
Day 2 – Erin
Day 3 – Jeffrey
Day 4 – Jessica

As I have been urging you throughout this series, please view these videos and take action “to tell your U.S. representative and senators that when they get back to work after the election, they must put a clean vote to raise the minimum wage at the top of their agenda”.

October 26, 2006

7 Days @ Minimum Wage – Day 4

Day 4:  Jessica

Jessica, an educated mom of four, tells her life-story of struggle to get ahead and make a future for her family. Jessica does everything she can to break out of a daily cycle of pain inflicted by having to scrape by on the minimum wage.

Day 1 – Paul and Susan
Day 2 – Erin
Day 3 – Jeffrey

I’m going to say it again: “Tell Congress: It’s Time for a REAL Vote to Raise the Minimum Wage. Send a letter to tell your U.S. representative and senators that when they get back to work after the election, they must put a clean vote to raise the minimum wage at the top of their agenda.” And don’t forget to tell your friends and family in “Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Nevada and Ohio to raise the minimum wage by voting “Yes” on November 7″.

October 25, 2006

7 Days @ Minimum Wage – Day 3

Day 3 – Jeffrey

Jeffrey shares his story of taking care of his newborn son with his minimum wage paycheck. After paying for rent, diapers, formula, and the electric bill, there is little left for groceries.

As Ms. Barr says:

Its not about teenagers working for pocket change at a hamburger joint, because 70% of people working at the minimum wage are adults with family responsibilities.

If you have seen these posts this week but haven’t clicked and watched the videos, I challenge you to do so. Please don’t make assumptions about our citizens who earn the minimum wage. These are real people with real stories to tell, and we all need to hear these hard truths.


October 24, 2006

7 Days @ Minimum Wage – Day 2

I encourage you to visit the site and watch the video every day during this campaign. Comments are allowed at the site for each day’s viewing.

Day 2’s video:

“On Day 2, Erin talks about needing to work increasing hours at her minimum wage, grocery store job to make ends meet.

Day 1’s video can be found here.

Again, if you have friends and/or relatives that live in Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Nevada and/or Ohio, ask them to vote “Yes” on November 7. to raise the minimum wage.

October 23, 2006

7 Days @ Minimum Wage

The ALF-CIO and ACORN are sponsoring the video blog “7 Days @ Minimum Wage”. For the next seven days, we will post their link. Please click this link and watch the video.

7 Days @ Minimum Wage brings you 7 real people with 7 real stories of living on the minimum wage, hosted by Roseanne Barr and sponsored by the AFL-CIO and ACORN.

On Day 1, Denver couple Paul Valdez and Susan Windham tell their story of living on the minimum wage. Paul receives $35 for a full day’s labor in back-breaking construction work.


October 16, 2006

Deconstructing a Negative Ad

I’ve recently received the mailing from the Kuhl Campaign, “Eric Massa must think money grows on trees”.  As with any negative ad I read or hear, my natural instinct is to (first cringe, because I feel that what I’m reading is distorted)  look beyond the rhetoric and try to find the truth. So, lets take a look.


September 24, 2006

Real Terror

This morning on my way to Mass at Mt. Irenaeus I stopped at the Giant Food Mart in Cuba to buy some eggs, coffee cake and cider. On my way into the store I spied a Cuba Patriot. On the cover was a color picture of a couple of local residents sitting with Eric Massa, Linda Witte and Judith Hunter discussing our failed health care system with community residents and health care providers. Noticeably absent from the meeting were incumbent Congressman Randy Kuhl and Assemblyman Joe Giglio. All three candidates present support redesigning our health care system. Existing health care programs put doctors in a pinch, don’t address patient needs for both preventive or acute care. The system only benefits insurance carriers who reap tremendous sums of money from a system designed to maximize their benefits.

The medical care nightmare is a real terror for most of our citizens especially the 45 million un-insured Americans. We’re all paying for the wrecked system that has been created by a legislative health care cabal that penalizes patients, doctors and hospitals. It’s a broken system that is costing local taxpayers millions of dollars annually. Simple universal health care for all Americans would cost taxpayers about 500 billion dollars a year less than the current system, but a well orchestrated campaign that relies heavily of fear and misinformation is in place that keeps voters from getting the real story.

This system of phony answers has created a system that benefits only insurance companies and is driving up taxes to pay for increased medical costs. As taxes increase businesses leave and citizens are taking a double hit of increased property taxes and lower and lower paying jobs. I have to wonder if Randy Kuhl and Joe Giglio were invited to the meeting and if they were invited what can explain their absence. Where do Randy Kuhl and Joe Giglio stand on the health care crisis that effects all of us?

September 19, 2006

Citizens’ Hearing on Health Care – Part 1

This past Saturday, September 16, a “Citizens’ Hearing on Health Care” was held at the Allegany-Limestone School.  Below the fold are my notes from the hearing.  Because of the length of the transcription, I have decided to post in two parts.

Testimonials were given so local legislators and candidates would hear first-hand accounts of how complicated and inequitable today’s health-care system is with bureaucratic layers that make it difficult to afford or access.

Those giving testimony told hearing panel members that health reform is critical. Furthermore, the U.S. needs to join other countries and provide a national single-payer health system that will cover everyone.

The hearing panel comprised: state Assemblyman Joe Giglio, R-Gowanda, of the 149th District; state Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, of the 57th District; Cattaraugus County Legislator Linda Witte, D-Olean, who’s running for the 149th Assembly District seat; and Eric Massa, a Democratic candidate in the 29th Congressional District. The elected officials and candidates agreed the health-care system needs substantial improvement and they supported many of the recommended changes.

Part 1 – Testimonials
Part 2 – Candidates’ Comments/Q&A


September 5, 2006

Median Household – 1999 to 2005

Filed under: Wages,working families — theruralpatriot @ 11:15 am

One graph says it all.  Only four states, (Montana, North Dakota, Rhode Island, and Wyoming), and the District of Columbia saw an increase in median household income over the past six years.

Source:  U.S. Census Bureau data analysis by Victoria Turk and Marisol Bello/Detroit Free Press…John W. Fleming/Detroit Free Press.

Main source from Detroit Free Press article A MICHIGAN CENSUS SNAPSHOT: More feel pain of tight economy.

Mortgage Moms – the New “Swing Voter”?

Filed under: November 2006 Election,Polls,US Economy,Wages,working families — theruralpatriot @ 9:34 am

First, it was the soccer moms; then we had the security moms.  This November, it may be the mortgage moms – “voters whose sense of well-being is freighted with anxiety about their families’ financial squeeze” –  who help to determine the outcome of the elections.

Even though the economy is growing and the national unemployment rate is low, middle-class families are finding themselves in a vulnerable position.  Adjustable interest rates, flat wages, rising energy prices, and the increasing national debt are contributing factors to their sense of unease. (more…)

August 14, 2006

Wal-Mart: Friend or Foe?

Earlier this spring, we were informed that there was a possibility that Wal-Mart stores might be built in Salamanca and Wellsville.  At this point, I’ve not been able to verify where those plans stand as of now.

Salamanca Area Chamber of Commerce President Susan Zaprowski thought “it would be terrific”.  Salamanca Planning Board Chairman Michael Zaprowski said, “We certainly could use a project like this.” Joe Roosa, one of the possible developers of the project, said “It will be good news for Salamanca”. 

State Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, said, “I think it’s important to open up the area for development because of the positive economic benefits.”

Personally, I think that it would be just great … for Wal-Mart.


July 24, 2006

The U.S. Economy and You (Part 1)

Filed under: Unemployment,US Economy,Wages,working families — theruralpatriot @ 7:35 pm

The U.S. economy is strong!  The tax cuts are working and we must make them permanent!  The estate tax, (now known as the “death tax”), must be repealed!  We have to do this to keep our economy strong and growing! 

If you have any exposure to traditional media, there is no doubt that you have heard these phrases.  But, I ask, how’s your “personal economy” doing these days?  How did you like your last raise? (what??? You didn’t get a raise? )  But you received a tax cut, didn’t you? (you mean the one that we didn’t notice because the price of EVERYTHING has risen and the cut was barely noticeable?).   What’s that I hear about how your money just doesn’t seem to go as far as it used to go? 

I think it is time to take a look at some real numbers.  We can find  those numbers at our own government’s websites. 


July 22, 2006

Massa opposes The Oman Free Trade Agreement

Filed under: Eric Massa,national security,OFTA,Randy Kuhl,working families — theruralpatriot @ 1:12 am

As noted in an earlier post, Randy Kuhl, our congressman, voted Friday in favor of passage of The Oman Free Trade Agreement (OFTA).  Eric Massa, who is campaigning against Mr. Kuhl in this November’s election, has issued a press release regarding his concerns about OFTA. 

 Prior to the House vote, Mr. Massa called upon Mr. Kuhl to “do the right thing for upstate New York and vote against this agreement”.  Mr. Massa cited, “It’s bad for American workers, bad for workers in other countries, and bad for our national security.”


July 21, 2006

Poverty, Population, and the Unemployment Rate

Allegany and Cattaraugus Counties face the issues of poverty and stagnant or decreasing population growth rate. It is also worthwhile to examine the unemployment figures for these two counties.

According to the 2003 Census, Cattaraugus ranks 53rd and Allegany ranks 57th of the 63 counties in New York State’s poverty statistics. We are definitely at the bottom 20% of this list.

From 1990 to 2005, Allegany County increased its population by 132 (50,470 to 50,602), a +0.26% increase. Cattaraugus County decreased its population level by 1732 (84,234 to 82,502), a -2.06% decrease.

Our unemployment numbers have risen; however, they are still at low levels. From 2000 to 2005, Allegany County went from 4.9% to 5.6%; Cattaraugus County went from 4.5% to 5.5%.


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