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Column - Franson isn't Santa; she's Chicken Little

Why is it that legislators like Rep. Mary Franson never squawk about the massive wage raises of white-collar workers, CEOs and Wall Street gamblers/thieves and how those massive wages help create a lopsided, unhealthy economic system?...

Why is it that legislators like Rep. Mary Franson never squawk about the massive wage raises of white-collar workers, CEOs and Wall Street gamblers/thieves and how those massive wages help create a lopsided, unhealthy economic system?

In a commentary in the April 3 Alexandria Echo Press, Franson critiqued a column I wrote about how the minimum wage should be raised. She terms a minimum-wage increase of $3 "a massive jump." To hear her tell it, you'd think I had called for a satanic insurrection to trash the American economy. In my March 22 column, I asked, "Who but Scrooge himself could possibly object to raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 an hour?"

In response to that, Franson portrays herself as Santa Claus versus Scrooge, fighting in the Legislature for the benefit of all, even the "hardest workers."

But, throughout her commentary, she comes across more like Chicken Little than Santa. Chicken Little is the folktale character who was hit on the head by a falling acorn and then kept running around, hysterically claiming, "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!"

That is exactly what Franson did in her commentary. Like Chicken Little, she claimed the sky will fall (the economy will be a shambles) if the minimum wage is raised. Any time a minimum-wage raise for the poorest workers is suggested, my oh my, the sky is about to fall.

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And every time, just before the minimum wage was, in fact, raised, we heard the same Chicken Little warnings, none of which came true. In every case, the economy did not nose-dive, massive lay-offs did not happen and economic conditions adjusted fairly quickly, according to level-headed, non-alarmist economists.

Like a condescending economics guru, Franson sternly instructs us know-nothings that, "In our free-market economy, somebody's monetary gain is always somebody else's loss. Many times, it isn't the loss of the 'rich' you read so much about."

Well, Santa Franson does, at least, have a sense of humor. Her storybook economics, always slanted toward the "haves," is a bleak joke to the "have nots."

How mean-spirited it is to suggest, as Franson does, that raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.65 would cause disasters. That's very nearly like blaming the working poor for the problem. Salt in the wounds.

It is especially insulting coming from a legislator who makes $31,140 per year for her part-time job, plus per diems, contributions to a pension plan and group insurance, all from taxpayer money. And then Franson has the gall to administer her dose of economic "realism" to someone making $7.25 an hour or less in a full-time job, which results in an annual wage of $15,080. That's before taxes. How would you like to try to live on that kind of wage, Ms. Franson?

Santa Franson might as well tell this to the working poor: Sorry, dearies. No presents for you. If the elves and I give you presents, it will sabotage the entire economic system. The sky will fall. You will be laid-off. You will starve. You will be homeless. God forbid, you'll be on food stamps. So please be happy with the lumps of coal you're getting and stop expecting anything more. And always remember this, dearies: Very low wages are good medicine.

At the close of her commentary, as if waving "Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night," Santa Franson promises us this: "In the meantime, I will take to my sleigh and continue supporting pro-growth economic policies from St. Paul that help create jobs and raise take-home pay for our hardest workers in a sustainable way."

Is it "Ho! Ho! Ho!" or "Ha! Ha! Ha!"?

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Since when did Franson work on behalf of the "hardest workers?" From Day One, she has been working hardest, directly or indirectly, like so many other legislators, for the fortunate and the moneyed classes, not for the working poor. The poor and people who need food stamps, as Franson once said, are like "animals" who must not be fed because "they may grow dependent and not learn to take care of themselves."

Shame on you, Santa Franson, delivering more lumps of coal. Maybe you should get in that sleigh, whip your reindeer into action and ride away to some storybook land where the poor work happily for peanuts.

    Dennis Dalman, a former reporter for the Echo Press, is a regular contributing columnist to the Opinion page. He is currently the editor of the St. Joseph Newsleader. He can be reached via e-mail at dennisdalman@jetup.net .

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