Saturday, September 28, 2013

True Colors

"I intend to speak in support of de-funding Obamacare until I am no longer able to stand."-- Sen. Ted Cruz (R) Texas

With those words, the Tea Party-supported freshman Senator from Texas took to the floor of the Senate and embarked on a 21 hour, 19 minute exposition against the President's signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare".

The speech wasn't entirely about Obamacare, of course.  No one could speak that long without resorting to repetition that would soon become mind-numbing.  He filled in with references to popular culture (quoting from "Duck Dynasty"), to the influence of his father, and he even read the Dr. Seuss classic, "Green Eggs and Ham" to his children.  Not surprisingly, out of 21 hours of material to choose from to make their reports, the national news media (the "Lamestream Media") decided almost universally to concentrate on green eggs and ham in an effort to ridicule and diminish Sen. Cruz and his argument.

Helping in this effort at media smearing are several of the establishment Republican power brokers.  Every single Republican who ran in the 2012 election ran on the platform of getting rid of and/or de-funding Obamacare.  The House of Representatives has held more than 40 (largely symbolic) votes to repeal the legislation, safe in the knowledge they were protected by the fact that the Senate would never even see the legislation.  They're very brave, when there's no one around to hold them to account, but now there's Sen. Ted Cruz.  Like Sen. Rand Paul before him, Sen. Cruz dared to take on the establishment.  He kept faith with those whose votes elected him for the express purpose of getting rid of Obamacare by any means necessary.  Unlike establishment Republicans, who are busy crafting excuses why they can't do anything ("We only have one-half of one-third of the government, there's nothing we can do."  "Obama will veto any bill that de-funds or repeals the legislation, anyway.", etc.) Sen. Cruz has been busy looking for ways to make it possible.  Instead of telling his constituents that they need to "be patient" until they have a chance to "take back the Senate in 2014" (if you remember, the Republicans did remarkably little to advance the causes of liberty and fiscal responsibility when they held all three branches of government), he has stepped up to the plate to promote actions, rather than empty speeches and never-to-be-fulfilled promises.

"This is the first time I've seen when Republican leadership is actively whipping the Republican conference to support Harry Reid and give him the power to enact his agenda. I'm quite confident this is not what Texans expect of me."--Sen. Cruz

In the process, he has stepped on some big Republican toes.  There's a culture in Washington, on both sides of the aisle, that junior Senators and Congressmen should "be seen and not heard" until it's time for them to vote along with the rest of the party faithful.  Following the path blazed by Sen. Paul before them, Sen. Cruz and others have flouted that "tradition" and in the process have overshadowed other, older, more senior members.  And they don't like it one bit.  Sen. John McCain of Arizona once famously called these young enthusiastic Tea Party freshmen "Wacko Birds" for their outspoken promotion of traditional conservative ideals.  Oddly, Sen. McCain was greatly offended when Sen. Cruz referenced that comment in his epic speech, saying that he and his associates were "proud Wacko Birds".

Getting back to the national media's treatment of Sen. Cruz.

Not one major outlet (excepting, perhaps FoxNews) reported even one of the many substantive points made in this speech.  Instead, they focused on the farcical interludes with Dr. Seuss and Duck Dynasty, followed by  the remarks of Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D) Nevada that they had just witnessed hours of "wasted time" (not so, Harry.  Sen. Cruz's remarks were called a "faux filibuster" by the mainstream media precisely because his speech did not hold up any Senate business). 

For the viewers who didn't watch the majority of the speech and only saw the "highlights" of green eggs and ham, it did seem like a complete waste of time.  Entirely as intended.

Many websites have listed quotes and "talking points" taken from Sen. Cruz's remarks.  As an illustration of the deliberate attempt to misrepresent the Sen.'s speech, I'll use one such quote from the political blog and website, Politico.  One of their favorite quotes: "The moon might be as intimidating as Obamacare."  Doesn't make any sense, does it?  Here's the full quote:  "When President John F. Kennedy told this country “We are going to send a man to the moon.” There were a lot of people who said it can’t be done. It’s impossible. It cannot be done. And yet John F. Kennedy had the vision to say Americans can do things whatever we set our mind too….We get to Obamacare and what do all of those voices say: It can’t be stopped. It can’t be done. We cannot defund it. Now, Mr. President by any measure, Obamacare is a far less intimidating foe than those that I have discussed. With a possible exception of the moon, the moon might be as intimidating as Obamacare."

Reads a little different when put into context, doesn't it?

One of the most significant points made by Sen. Cruz in his speech, unreported by the major media, was just how much working people could expect their health insurance premiums to rise if/when Obamacare is fully implemented.  As reported via FoxNews and the Society of Actuaries,   "According to the Society of Actuaries, America’s leading organization of risk-analysis professionals, the cost of medical claims under Obamacare – the driving force behind the rise in insurance premiums – will increase by 32 percent nationwide.  The cost of medical claims is up 62 percent in California. According to the Executive Director of that state’s own Obamacare exchange, health insurance premiums for individuals are rising by between 64 and 146 percent.  The day the exchange opened, the average 25-year-old nonsmoking male in California saw his monthly premium rise from $92 to $184.  In Tennessee, the average premium for individual females is doubling. For men, it’s tripling. One Kentucky family famously saw their premium triple overnight."

Funny, isn't it, how the American media conveniently omits such important information?  The administration has put on a full court press, using all the avenues available to them to sell Obamacare to the public, hoping to quell the same kind of public outcry that  derailed their quest to limit the 2nd Amendment protections for legal gun owners earlier this year.  That's to be expected.  What's so discouraging is the enthusiastic willingness of our other so-called "representatives" to join them in their propaganda efforts.

As of this writing, the Senate voted for cloture 79-19.  The Republicans didn't "stand together" until it didn't matter.  The Senate then voted to pass the measure, stripped of the de-funding language, on a party-line 54-44 vote.  (That way, Republicans can still represent themselves as having voted against it)  The measure now goes back to the House.  The last chance to stop this rests with the Republican caucus (Rep. Boehner has already said he won't do anything to cause a shutdown).  If the rank and file stand firm, they can pass a bill with different language to restrict the implementation of Obamacare, they could refuse to pass the Senate version, or they could tie a one-year delay in the implementation to a vote on the debt ceiling (I wouldn't hold my breath, we saw how they folded like cheap lawn chairs in the debt ceiling fight last year).

In taking a stand, in keeping faith with his constituents and following through on his promise to do everything he could to get rid of Obamacare and restore the Constitution to primacy, whether or not he is successful in this particular fight Sen. Ted Cruz and his associates have shown their true colors.  In intentionally misrepresenting the issue, excusing themselves for not following up on their promises (while managing to exempt themselves from the obligation of following the mandates of Obamacare themselves), the national media and establishment Republicans have shown theirs, as well.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Bright Light in a Darkening World

If you follow social media you may already know about this story.  With the exception of a few outlets it hasn't gotten a whole lot of attention in the national media until just lately.  That's a shame.  Events such as this should be the lead in any news broadcast, ahead of stories of scandal, crime, violence & corruption.

This is the story of young Mr. Joey Prusak (below):

This Story of a 19 Year Old Dairy Queen Employee Standing Up For a Blind Man Will Touch Your Heart

19yr old Joey is an employee at a Dairy Queen in Hopkins, Minnesota and has worked at this same restaurant for nearly 5 years, rising to the position of manager.  On the surface, he's the typical all-American kid.  It was what he did last Tuesday that was so atypical that it has now garnered the attention of so many, not just in Minnesota but nationally and even across the world.

Like most small town fast food outlets and restaurants this Dairy Queen has it's "regulars" whom Joey has gotten to know over the years.  One such customer is a blind man who comes in frequently and on this particular day, after placing his usual order and paying with his debit card he happened to drop a $20 bill out of his pocket.  He wasn't aware of this, BUT the "elderly lady" behind him certainly was.  In fact, she picked up the twenty and as Joey watched, certain that she was going to give it back to the blind man who dropped it, she put it into her own purse!

She stole money from a blind man.

Joey says he was “shocked” and “sickened” by what he saw happen to a blind man at the hands of an elderly lady.  He was so disgusted he decided to take matters into his own hands:

“She walked up to the counter and I asked her to please return the $20 bill to the gentleman. She looked at me like ‘what are you talking about,’” Prusak said, recounting the incident to TheBlaze. “I asked her again to return it and she said, ‘No, it’s mine I just dropped it.’ I told her I’m not going to serve you if you are going to be disrespectful as you are stealing someone’s money like that.....She started getting really angry … started swearing and whatnot. I stayed relatively calm, I deal with customers on a daily basis. She kept swearing though and I asked her to leave the store. I told her if you aren’t going to return the money, you need to leave right now.”

She then "stormed out".

Witnesses to the confrontation say that it's what happened next that was the most unexpected:  "Once the "lady" had left, Mr. Prusak walked over to the gentleman, who had been seated nearby and witnessed (listening) the entire thing and gave him $20 from his own wallet, saying, 'Sir, on behalf of Dairy Queen, I would like to give you the $20 that you happened to drop on the ground as you walked away from the counter.'”

Mr. Prusak didn't think much about it at the time, it was just the right thing to do.  “I felt it wasn’t right that he got ripped off by someone like that lady,” he said. “It just wasn’t a right situation, you know?” 

What a guy.  At the tender age of 19, he's developed a depth of character and courage that many never achieve.  What made this story go viral was the anonymous letter one of the witnesses sent to Dairy Queen corporate, since posted Facebook, on Reddit, and below:

This Story of a 19 Year Old Dairy Queen Employee Standing Up For a Blind Man Will Touch Your Heart

Since the incident, Mr. Prusak has been flooded with congratulations (he got a personal phone call praising his actions and an  invitation to attend the annual shareholders meeting from none other than Mr. Warren Buffet, whose Berkshire Hathaway owns Dairy Queen, and it was reported by NPR that talk radio host Glenn Beck offered to buy this young man his own franchise outlet and have him run it, since the young man related to Mr. Beck in an on-air interview that his goal in life was to someday be a business owner) and the store has been more than flooded with customers coming in to patronize the store and meet this remarkable young man.  He has also been gifted by many who have handed him $20 bills in appreciation for his actions.  He's not keeping this money, it's being donated to charity.

With all of this, the one thing that has meant the most to Joey is the reaction of his boss.    “He wrote me in a note and put it in an envelope and goes ‘you’re the type of man I’m proud to know.’ That meant a lot to me.”

Joey, you're the type of man we are ALL proud to know.


Praise for this young man crosses ideological boundaries as few news items ever have.  Whether conservative or liberal, all are impressed by his actions and his self-effacing modesty.  Follow these links to other stories covering the remarkable Mr. Prusak:

Saturday, September 14, 2013

American Exceptionalism

"It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation."--Vladimir Putin

The left, as well as some presumed conservatives on the right, such as Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump are lauding the opinion piece penned by Russian President Vladimir Putin and published in the New York Times.  Many are saying that he comes across as more presidential than President Obama, more reasoned, statesmanlike.  There is no doubt that the Russian leader has completely schooled Obama in foreign policy and in what used to be known as "geo-politik", but this uncritical acceptance of such a statement, much less it's approbation, is unprecedented. 

American Progressives and Liberals have long detested the very idea of "American exceptionalism", believing it to be nothing more than unwarranted braggadocio, an offense to the sensibilities of other country's citizens.  That we were saying that we, personally, were inherently better people than others.  This goes hand-in-hand with the oft-repeated refrain that America is an unjust country, that we "steal" the world's resources and give little or nothing in return, that we oppress weaker nations, that we seek to "impose democracy" (an oxymoron) on others.

The proof of the superiority of the American system of government and capitalism shown in the greater freedoms and higher standard of living afforded to it's citizens notwithstanding, the American Left has continually maintained that we need to be more like Europe and shouldn't have it so much better than so many.  "It's not fair."

It's exactly fair.  In fact, America IS exceptional.

The vast majority of human history is one of abject poverty.  Of rule by various dictators using degrees of violence, oppression, intimidation, and confiscation to keep the "commons" in line and producing for the aristocracy.  A history of slavery.  America came into being as the first society purposefully created on a philosophic axiom of the supremacy of the individual's right to conduct his own life.  The first society to declare that "all men are created equal".  No matter how far we were from the full realization of that goal, the very proposition was 180 degrees from the norm.  America was the first country to specifically declare slavery illegal, (hundreds of thousands of Americans fought and died to make it so) something many other countries have failed to do to this day.

Rush Limbaugh had a great monologue on Thursday pointing out the error made by most of those who are critical of the idea of American exceptionalism.  I'm just going to quote a few passages here.  You will be able to access the whole thing through the link at the end of this post:

".....what American exceptionalism is not: It is not that we are better people.  It is not that we are superior people.  It is not that we are smarter people.  It is not that God loves us and hates everybody else.  It is not that God prefers us.  It is not that God doesn't prefer anybody else."

"The vast majority of the people of this world since the beginning of time have never known the kind of liberty and freedom that's taken for granted every day in this country.  Most people have lived in abject fear of their leaders. Most people have lived in abject fear of whoever held power over them.  Most people in the world have not had plentiful access to food and clean water.  It was a major daily undertaking for most people to come up with just those two basic things.  Just surviving was the primary occupation of most people in the world.  The history of the world is dictatorship, tyranny, subjugation, whatever you want to call it of populations -- and then along came the United States of America.  Pilgrims were the first to come here seeking freedom from all of that."

"For the first time in human history, a government and country was founded on the belief that leaders serve the population.  This country was the first in history, the EXCEPTION -- e-x-c-e-p-t, except. The exception to the rule is what American exceptionalism is."

"The US is the first time in the history of the world where a government was organized with a Constitution laying out the rules, that the individual was supreme and dominant, and that is what led to the US becoming the greatest country ever because it unleashed people to be the best they could be. Nothing like it had ever happened.  That's American exceptionalism."

The left doesn't hold the founding principles of this country in the same regard.  Obama certainly doesn't.  When he was once asked whether he holds the same attitude of American exceptionalism as the majority of past Presidents, he demurred, saying that he had an opinion of American exceptionalism that was the same as people in other countries believe themselves to be exceptional.  In other words, America is no different, no better, than any other country.  That's part of what his plan to "fundamentally transform America" was all about.  His intent was to begin to level the playing field by bringing America down to the level of other countries.  He is uncomfortable with the notion of America being the sole superpower, preferring that America be simply "one of many" when it comes to world and international relations.  He has succeeded beyond his wildest imaginations.  This week may very well have seen the end of America as a superpower, with Russia emerging as the world's leading influence. 

Barack Hussein Obama may go down in history as the American President who succeeded in accomplishing what no foreign power ever could:  the dismantling of the only country ever to guarantee the individual rights and freedom of it's citizens and a reversion to command and control totalitarianism.


You can access a transcript of Rush's monologue here.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Bringing Back the Real History of America

While the world waits to see whether Barack Obama, President of the United States and Constitutional Scholar, will violate the Constitution's "Separation of Powers" clause and order acts of war in defiance of a vote by Congress denying him the authority to order military action against Syria (as of right now, even though one draft resolution has been passed out of committee in the Senate, it has yet to be approved by the full Senate and it's by no means certain the administration will achieve the necessary 60 vote threshold for passage; he is nowhere near the numbers of votes he needs in the House.  His supporters maintain he has the right to order action even without Congress' approval), which even some Democrats have said would trigger a true Constitutional crisis and potentially put Obama in danger of Impeachment, I stumbled on some positive news.

One of the reasons why America has drifted so far from it's founding principles is the work over the past century by Progressives to alter and "reinterpret" the history of this country being taught to schoolchildren.  For instance, the early explorers who discovered the "New World" have been depicted, not as brave adventurers expanding the frontiers of civilization, but as "white European oppressors" who enslaved and destroyed the indigenous people.  Columbus' reputation has been changed from the man who discovered America to that of an evil criminal.  Given all of the indoctrination they are subjected to, it's no wonder that many graduates of the public (government) school system have such disdain for the founding of the country, the founding fathers, and it's foundational legal document.

Riding to the rescue is Rush Revere.

No, it's not a joke, although the reactions by the left to Rush's publication of a children's book are quite amusing.

For those who don't already know, Rush Revere is a character created by Rush Limbaugh to promote his line of iced teas, a business he started a couple years ago to document the difficulties in starting up a small business in America today and the fact that it was still possible to succeed in spite of the obstacles put in place by the government (It's great tea, btw).

Rush has long lamented the state of education in the public schools.  Particularly the mis-education of elementary and high school students as to the true history of this country and it's founding.  He believes, and I agree, that students are no longer being taught the truth.  Instead, they are being indoctrinated in Liberal/Progressive orthodoxy and a hatred of the founding principles of the United States.  Instead of having pride in their country and optimism in what is possible for them to achieve, they are being taught that America is a terrible place, full of racism and unfairness against minorities and unjust advantages for a lucky few.

To combat this, Rush has put together a new children's book (intended as one of a series) called "Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims: Time Travel Adventures with Exceptional Americans".  While aimed at the 10-13 age group, the author says it's meant to be entertaining (and informative) to all.  He especially hopes that parents will read/share the book with their kids. 

Rush hadn't come out with a new book in decades and had been petitioned by many to write another one.  He resisted all entreaties (even by his friend, the late Vince Flynn) until his wife Katherine asked him,  "Look, you care about kids. You care about education. Why don't you write a children's book?"

The result has been nothing short of astounding.  Rush announced his new book Thursday.  By Friday, it was listed at number one on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble's bestseller's lists.  As a pre-order!  I don't mean number one on the pre-order lists.  Number one in sales, period.  The book isn't even available until the end of October.

OK, here's a brief outline of what the book is about:  The main character, Rush Revere, is a middle school teacher with a horse named Liberty.  The horse has the singular ability to travel through time.  Rush Revere and Liberty travel back in time to witness historic events and they bring a couple students with them on each trip and return to the classroom and relate what actually happened.  Full details will have to wait until the book actually comes out but it's already received hysterical rants from the left, who have said (paraphrased)  "After all of the time it has taken us to finally expunge from the record the lies of the founding of this country, we've got Limbaugh who's gonna go back and try to reestablish what has taken us all these years to get rid of......But I have to admit, and you all have to admit, the guy's a genius. He's just an absolute genius."  "But don't be fooled why Limbaugh's doing this. He's not doing this 'cause he cares about the kids, and he's not doing this to reverse the historical record, and he doesn't really want to sell any books. He's doing this to make us mad. He's doing this to make liberals mad." And there were countless posts like this.

"He's doing this to make us mad."  As if Rush has nothing better to do than devote months of effort and who knows how much of his own money to write a book just to irritate liberals.  Why?  He accomplishes that for 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, now.

Rush has stated that there will not be overt political influences in these books.  That his whole purpose is to reacquaint American youth with the truth of our founding and the truth of the real greatness that is the American system of individual liberty and government of, by and for the people.  Using historical documents and research, these books will tell the true historical account of what it was like in England that drove people to literally risk their lives in a cross-Atlantic voyage in small ships to a destination that, it was said, didn't even exist; what the living conditions were like on those ships, what it was really like in the Plymouth Colonies, and what they eventually had to do in order to succeed.  Included in these stories will be the retelling of the real story of Thanksgiving, something that has always driven the left nuts every November when the story is posted on Rush's website and told by him on Thanksgiving Day.

The whole idea of the book(s) is pure genius.  The concept of a time-traveling horse will grab the imaginations of young people and get them interested in the stories told, and at the same time, the concept means that the series is virtually limitless in scope.  Rush Revere and Liberty can literally go anywhere, anytime, to witness any event.  The number of volumes to be written is limited only by how far Rush wants to go with it.  There's no limit to the material.

Imagine, schoolchildren being exposed to historically accurate information about the true greatness of America and it's founding ideals and principles!  It boggles the mind.  When you consider the reaction in the classroom when teachers promote a story line at odds with what their students have learned through these books, and they get questioned on it.....?  At the very least, the controversy will drive many kids to investigate for themselves.  The best of all possible outcomes.

You want a chuckle?  Check out some of the reactions from the party of "diversity of thought" and "tolerance":

And, to be fair, some more positive thoughts:

The book is available for pre-order on Barnes&Noble and Amazon.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Ya Want Fries With That?

On Thursday, fast food workers from McDonalds and other fast food chains went on "strike" to protest low wages & benefits and to demand the right "to unionize without interference" from the franchise owners.

Their most immediate demand is for a new "minimum wage" of at least $15 per hour.


They justify their demands by repeating the irrelevancy that it's impossible to support a family on the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 and that corporate profits are such that they can "easily afford to pay us more".  Got some news for ya:  (1) The minimum wage was never intended to provide support for an individual living alone, much less a family of four.  Minimum wage jobs are entry-level positions meant as a single step on the stairway of success, not a landing you can stay on indefinitely and (2) corporate profits belong to the corporation, to be used as they see fit to pay for needed capital expenditures, encourage future growth and satisfy shareholders. 

It's hard for me to fathom the idea of workers walking out on strike when they aren't unionized.  If you aren't unionized, it's not a strike, it's an illegal work action against your employer and should result in firing.  Unfortunately, I researched this a little and was surprised to find that these workers can not be fired for their actions.  Even though they aren't unionized, they are still protected by a federal law that shields them from the consequences of walking out on their job as long as they "act in concert with fellow employees or on behalf of other employees and strike over wages, benefits, or other terms and conditions of employment."

Yep.  For legal considerations, all of these employees are "altruists" interested not in their own desires, but protesting for their co-workers.  Convenient.  It means that a business owner can find him- or herself crippled by an employee walkout in the middle of a busy work day and powerless to do anything about it.  If the employee is fired, they can sue, claiming protection under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, and have the court force the employer to reinstate them, with full back pay and "damages".  Where's the protection for the employer?  Almost non-existent.  About the only exception to the NLRB regs concerning employee walkout "strikes" by non-union workers is if  they walk off the job "in a manner reasonably calculated to cause harm to the employer".  Violence in the picket line is also not protected under the Act.

Included in this now year-long drama over wages is the possibility of illegal actions by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).  It's common knowledge that these work actions are being aided by leaders and activists provided by the union.  The SEIU and the AFL-CIO aren't formally aiding the action by providing direct assistance with funding and supplies, as that would trigger a law that would allow the franchise owners and the corporation to work together to force a resolution to the conflict by demanding a company-wide unionization vote and allow them to present their arguments why they believe unionizing would not be in the best interests of the company.  By avoiding such a vote, the big unions (who are in this solely for the prospect of adding millions of dues-paying members to their declining roles) can take a piecemeal, divide-and-conquer, strategy by attacking individual franchisees (mostly in very liberal cities) who don't have the financial resources to fight back.

What's perhaps most distressing is the media's largely non-critical reporting of the strikes and the claims of their proponents.  Another of their claims is that they only want to be paid a wage "in line with that paid in 1963 (adjusted for inflation)".  The March on Washington in 1963 was, in part, about demands for the establishment of a new federal minimum wage of $2 per hour.  Adjusted for inflation, that figure is put at approximately $8.37 per hour in today's dollars.  Problem is, the average wage for fast food workers in these cities is just over $9.  In other words, they are already getting what they say they deserve.  No one in the major media is taking the time to point this out.

What's likely to be the result of this unrest?  Not much.  Earlier strikes had little or no impact.  The people participating in these walkouts are ignorant of even the most basic economic realities.  Just because McDonalds Corp. is raking in "record profits" and the industry as a whole profits annually to the tune of more than $200B, it doesn't mean that the individual franchise owners are rolling in dough.  In fact, the restaurant business operates on extremely low profit margins.  If the protesters were to be successful in forcing a doubling in the federal minimum (for the more rural outlets) and a 60% rise in the labor costs of these outlets, the most likely outcome is a steep rise in prices to the consumer, which will be followed by a reduction is sales, which will lead to a reduction in staffing and potentially a future closure of the business.  Or, maybe the owner will attempt to keep prices down by reducing his labor costs by replacing people with automation?  Instead of having people working the drive through window and the counter, these employees can be replaced with technology.  Simply install "self-service" kiosks.  The customer orders via a touch screen, swipes their credit card or pays at a bill acceptor, and drives/walks over to the window to pick up their order.  You've already seen these "self-checkout" systems in use in grocery stores and big box stores like Home Depot and Lowe's.  Such a system would be a boon for the fast food industry.  They could realistically eliminate as many as 6-10 employees per store.  Or, they could agree to pay the $15 per hour and simply cut back the number of employees/hours to keep their labor costs stable.  Either way, the employee is left worse off, not better.

I haven't even addressed the larger picture of how mandatory increases in the costs of doing business slows the economy, drives higher unemployment numbers--increasing demand for social services and the tax burden on those still employed--leading to less money available for consumers to spend, which slows the economy further......etc., etc.

These people are under the mistaken idea that they somehow "deserve" more money.  I've got some hard truth for them:  The reason why you're not getting $15 an hour is because you're not worth $15 an hour.  Harsh?  Perhaps.  The truth often is.  We are all getting paid exactly what we're worth, regardless of our own biased opinions.  The marketplace is the ultimate determinant of what we are worth.  You are only "worth" what you can convince someone else to pay you.  If you are not self-employed, your boss determines your level of pay by the level of benefit he gains from you.  If you want to earn $15 an hour, you have to provide a benefit to him/her much greater than that.  Remember that the amount of your paycheck is only part of their cost to hire you.  There's the costs involved in staying in compliance with all the federal and state employment rules, unemployment insurance, health insurance (if provided), worker's comp, etc.

The purpose of any business or corporation is not to provide you with a wage, health insurance and 2 weeks paid vacation.  The purpose of every business is to provide a good or service, in return for financial gain.  Period.  In order to fulfill public demand they hire employees and pay them according to their contribution to the success of the company.  If you want greater pay, first start by finding out how you can provide your boss with greater benefit than the other employees.  Ask for greater responsibilities.  Show him that you're capable.  Then, and only then, can you expect greater pay.  Give up the demand that "He needs to pay me what I'm worth, THEN I'll agree to do more." 

Finally, if after all this you still insist that you are being mistreated by "greedy capitalists" and you could run the business better (and fairer), prove it.  Get together with all your like-minded friends in the picket line and form your own business and run it according to your self-proclaimed tenets of "equality" and "fair pay" and a "living wage for all".  I'm sure you can appeal to your friends in the big unions to finance your experiment with such an egalitarian enterprise.  Just don't be too surprised when you go out of business.  Even the UAW found it necessary to bow to financial realities when it took over GM (btw, they STILL haven't turned a real profit and they still owe the American taxpayers billions of dollars).

What should happen (but won't) is that the owners of these restaurants hold a meeting for all employees and tell them that they are legally allowed to "express their 1st Amendment rights" by walking out in protest of what they're able/willing to pay, BUT if they do, the owners will exercise their right to run the business as they see fit by firing anyone who doesn't show up for their scheduled shift.  Any employee thus fired will not be eligible for re-hire.  They will then be replaced with a new hire, who will be paid $.50 more per hour than the former employee.  The employees would then be left free to decide for themselves which path to take:  continued employment with at least the opportunity for advancement and raises, or certain unemployment, potentially lasting months.  It's their choice.

It's time we stopped handcuffing business with unreasonable demands and let them get back to the business of providing goods and services at affordable prices.  Our economy will not fully recover until we do.