published Saturday, December 7th, 2013

Pam's points: On guns, the death of a hero and livable wages

Harriet Cotter holds was among the protesters Thursday at the McDonald's on Brainerd Road in Chattanooga.
Harriet Cotter holds was among the protesters Thursday at the McDonald's on Brainerd Road in Chattanooga.
Photo by Doug Strickland /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Too many trigger-happy people

In the space of three weeks, three people have been fatally shot locally, two at residences and one outside a professional's office. All the shooters were white.

A Ringgold, Ga., man shot at two teens in his backyard in broad daylight, killing one. He didn't call police until after he fired. An Ooltewah man visiting a Chickamauga, Ga., home shot and killed a lost Alzheimer's patient in the yard in the middle of the night as police were on their way to the house. And in Manchester, a 47-year-old woman shot her husband as the two left a lawyer's office because, she said, "he'd been picking on her," according to police.

Only the woman has been charged. Investigations are continuing in the other cases.

Meanwhile in Chattanooga, a month after a roundup of 32 black men that police and federal authorities tagged as the "worst of the worst" criminals here, city Mayor Andy Berke says shootings in the city are "way down."

He said that before a Highway 58 grocery store parking lot shooting during a botched robbery in which one man was killed and another wounded when the alleged victim fought back, but numbers still bear out the mayor's claim.

Perhaps the take-away here is that even in the new wild west -- which increasingly seems to be the Chattanooga region outside the core city -- we need to let police do their jobs and not try to act out what we see on TV.

Taking lessons from Nelson Mandela

It's a simple question. But it has an over-complicated American answer.

If Nelson Mandela, a man once labeled "an enemy of the state" who eventually became the president of South Africa, can bring about democracy and harmony in one lifetime to the once Apartheid-torn country of 51 million people, why can't the Congress of the United States find compromise on ordinary issues like health care, immigration and budgeting?

Fighting for wages and a union

Chattanooga workers took to the streets on two fronts this week.

Protesters at the McDonald's in Brainerd held up signs demanding things like "Living wage now!"

Of $7.25 an hour, the current minimum wage, Stephen Mason says "you're just working to live. I'm scraping by."

He and about 25 local activists support a proposed $15 an hour minimum wage.

In a time when corporate profits are up and continually widening the gap above the also-growing numbers of people living in poverty, the protesters noted that if their own raises had kept up with corporate earnings, "we'd be making $22 an hour right now."

Across town at South Chattanooga's Main Terrain Park, protesters criticized local congressmen for opposing the ongoing United Auto Workers' campaign to organize the Chattanooga Volkswagen plant.

Leroy Griffith, a retired minister from Renaissance Presbyterian Church, said Sen. Bob Corker can't "cry 'free enterprise, free enterprise, free enterprise,' on the backs of unrepresented workers."

VW production workers currently earn a starting salary of $15 a hour, which can rise to $21 an hour after four years.

The poverty level and a living wage, by the way, are different things for different people, but it's hard to deny the protesters' logic.

According to a "Living Wage Calculator" developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Chattanooga fast-food full-time worker -- or any other kind of full-time worker -- making $8 an hour is earning very close to a poverty-level wage ($5.21 an hour).

However, if the worker is a single parent with one child, a poverty wage is $7 an hour. And that same worker with one child would have to earn $23.53 to be making what MIT calls a living wage.

America should be able to do better than this.

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conservative said...

Ms. Sohn you pointed out that the protestors want $15.00 an hour to work at McDonald's.

You also pointed out that Chattanooga VW workers make $14.50 an hour.

Think about this:

PEOPLE ASSEMBLING HAMBURGERS SHOULD NOT MAKE AS MUCH AS PEOPLE ASSEMBLING CARS!

December 7, 2013 at 10:27 a.m.
jesse said...

If ya got no job skills then ya take what you can get!You can train a monkey to flip burgers! Life is a lifetime endeavor and the folks that attain lifetime skills will be a lot more successful than those who don't !Pretty simple when ya get right down to it!!

December 7, 2013 at 1:12 p.m.
joetheplumber said...

15.00 for flipping burgers? You are flippin crazy or out of your flippin mind. I have a kid with a college degree that we busted our butts to provide, they now work at a bank for less than 15.00 an hour. I agree with jesse 110%, these jobs are more about learning to get your butt out of bed and getting to work on time in preperation for a real job, never intend to be someones life goal - all this just proves why Americans are slipping in the world. This entire subject just flips me out...

December 8, 2013 at 8:51 a.m.
AgentX said...

First of all, why the racist comments? Second, Brenda Bartee is black, not white. And it's not the first time she's shot at him. You should read your own website more: http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2013/dec/07/estranged-wife-had-fired-shots-before/?local

So an elderly man, confronted by 2 young adults trying to break in to his house, should use what- harsh language? If they did start approaching him as he states, he likely feared for his life. Look at that young couple that recently lured a man with a craigslist ad and stabbed him to death, because they wanted to. You don't know what kind of evil may be out there.

The man visiting his fiance that shot the man outside in the yard was responding to someone trying to enter the home at an odd hour. You also fail to mention that the woman that lived there was confronted by someone a week earlier demanding to speak to someone the woman did not know (presumably the former home owner). She told them that she didn't know the person but the man sounded threatening and refused to leave right away. There is a police report to back this up. (http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2013/dec/06/two-scares-in-the-middle-of-the-nightanother/?local) After hearing that, I understand the family's concern, but I don't think the shooter should have left the house, but rather stayed inside waiting on police. I'd be beside my family with gun in hand waiting for someone to try and force their way in.

As for the worst of the worst, if I throw a net out and only catch a certain animal, that doesn't mean I discriminate against all the others. I think it just so happens that the individuals arrested in that operation just happen to be all black.

And the botched robbery? The young man that died was free on bond while waiting trial for guess what- robbery! (http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/20...) The victim had a permit to carry and defended himself appropriately.

I find it aggravating how people try to twist these events to suit their own purpose, particularly by leaving out pertinent information that points to the contrary. I guess that explains why you leave it out- it doesn't support whatever BS you're trying to preach.

And $15/hr min. wage for unskilled labor in the fast food industry?? Are you freakin' kidding me?

December 10, 2013 at 12:45 p.m.
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