January 12, 2007

Charlie Tuna, Wage Slave

The Dems are beating the drums about their "100 hours" of legislation. The legislation seems to be mostly trivial and the committee process, which the Dems are bypassing under the majoritarian House rules, is there for a reason.

One of their measures is an increase in the federal minimum wage. This measure is of dubious merit under standard economic theory, but the increase is small enough to make the bill mostly symbolic and a burden mostly on low-end restaurants.

It turns out that the version adopted by the House includes the Northern Marianas for the first time, but leaves out American Samoa. Apparently there's an explanation that reflects on millionaire Speaker Pelosi's authenticity as a tribune of the underpaid masses, an explanation that at least one GOP Congressman was quick to exploit:
One of the biggest opponents of the federal minimum wage in Samoa is StarKist Tuna, which owns one of the two packing plants that together employ more than 5,000 Samoans, or nearly 75 percent of the island's work force. StarKist's parent company, Del Monte Corp., has headquarters in San Francisco, which is represented by Mrs. Pelosi. The other plant belongs to California-based Chicken of the Sea.

"There's something fishy going on here," said Rep. Patrick T. McHenry, North Carolina Republican.

During the House debate yesterday on stem-cell research, Mr. McHenry raised a parliamentary inquiry as to whether an amendment could be offered that would exempt American Samoa from stem-cell research, "just as it was for the minimum-wage bill."

A clearly perturbed Rep. Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat who was presiding, cut off Mr. McHenry and shouted, "No, it would not be."

"So, the chair is saying I may not offer an amendment exempting American Samoa?" Mr. McHenry pressed.

"The gentleman is making a speech and will sustain," Mr. Frank shouted as he slammed his large wooden gavel against the rostrum.
Funny but sad.

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