Below the poverty line, wages affect everyone.

The owner of a small restaurant in Minnesota recently added a 35¢ line item surcharge to his guest receipts, supposedly to make up for an increase in the state minimum wage law.

It was his way of making a political statement, that this increase is an added hardship for his business.

I for one am sick of companies that are allowed to pay employees less than a living wage on the pretense of keeping expenses low and saving customer’s money. It does not save me money when an employee of a company works full time and yet is under the poverty line requiring subsidized food assistance, subsidized health care, subsidized mass transit, etc… all of which add to my tax burden

The cost shifting of employee compensation from private to public entities is a practice that needs to be abolished.

The minimum wage started as part of the New Deal legislation with the goal of leveling the wage negotiations between a single employee and a large corporation. The goal of the program was to bring the minimum wage to a number near the poverty line. From 1938 to the 1960’s the minimum wage rose with inflation and the wages rose.

However in the late 60’s the real value of the minimum wage was allowed to fall resulting in a wage that reflects a 25% decline in real value today. That 25% that had to be made up somewhere else and that turned out to be social assistance.

There are many causes for the decline in workers wage value. The decline in union participation has eliminated much of the collective bargaining. The entry of Walmart (and stores like it) in almost every market has eliminated small entrepreneurs who had a stake in the community they lived in. (It is a lot harder to not pay someone a fair wage if you have to see them in church every week.) Third, corporations have moved many of the higher paying blue collar jobs overseas to capture cheap labor.

What needs to happen is a new social contract needs to evolve, allowing everyone who works in an industry to have the opportunity to make a living wage without the need for a subsidy. Private Industry and business should pay for the labors they require and shouldn’t be allowed to cost shift their moral responsibilities to the public sector.

This new social contract should include a linkage between the fiduciary responsibilities of a corporation to make a profit and the moral imperative of a corporation to treat human beings fairly.

On Seeking Approval

Clarence holm
– Clarence Holm

I’ve spent much of my life seeking approval,
From people who brushed by me in my lane.
Imploring a group of strangers to act in my tribunal,
As if my trifling trepidations was part of their terrain.

With a single-minded devotion,
I wasted so much time
Seeking a trace of emotion
I perceived would be sublime.

I tried so hard to grab the world’s attention
It came off sounding like a boast.
Because of all my pure pretension
I lost what mattered most.

So late to learn, yet before life’s lost
I’d figured out the most sacred fact
Joy can’t be bartered not at any cost
It comes with no conditions, once you give up on your act.

Another Birthday

– Clarence Holm

steve beilke

Happy Birthday Steve

While it seems the days are mounting
And tomorrows slips into our dreams.
It makes sense to perform an accounting
Of all those plans and trivial schemes.

As you total up your riches,
Please take care to count the gear
That fills the cracks and all the niches
Which soothe a soul and causes cheer.

Take a stroll down life’s memories path
And travel with your recollections
Total your choices, go do the math
Then savor life with your selections.

Dear Clarence*

Q: Dear Sir, you seem wise beyond your years (and waist line). Do you have any words of wisdom to share with a younger reader.
A: It’s true that I have grown over the years and have accumulated many pearls of wisdom. I’d be glad to share a few with you
Before you leap upside down onto a trampoline, make sure it’s right side up.
Don’t throw an angry cat straight up.
When using an acetylene torch, don’t feel the flame to see if it’s really hot.
Don’t chase a bear into the woods to get a close-up photo.
Sell only one of your kidneys.
If you’re on a ball field and someone shouts “Heads up!” don’t do it. Instead cover your head with your arms and duck.
Q: Dear Clarence, my daughter came home from college with a puppy. She explained that her teacher had offered her an “A” in Sociology, if she took a puppy home from her dog’s litter. After my daughter went back to college, I noticed the professor’s puppy was still in my house. Should I be concerned?
A: Dear Spot, In the words of Socrates, “Something is rotten in Thebes”. It appears that you are the victim of the dreaded gambit called “Drop the pooch and run”! Unfortunately there is nothing you can do about it, other than buy deodorizer, carpet cleaning solution and chew toys.
Q: Mr. Clarence, I went shopping last week and tried to save some money by going to a “Price Buster” sale. What makes a sale a “Price Buster”? Is that better than a “Huge” sale? If a “Boss Is On Vacation” sale is combined with a “Going Out Of Business” sale, do we risk a recession?
                                      “Savings Are In The Bag” guy
A: Dear Savings, sometimes you need to talk with an expert to sort out an intricate query. For instance, my wife has shown me time after time that she has saved me huge amounts of money by buying items on clearance. For instance, last week she saved me $50.49 on a shirt that was originally priced at $52.99. She bought it for $2.50. All I have to do is lose 75 pounds and it will fit like a glove. This is what it means to have a “Loss Leader”.
Q: Dear Clarence, I  have trouble spreading store-bought frosting, it seems much to thick. What can I do to make it easier to apply?
Baked, but not frosted
A: Dear Baked, When you buy a container of cake frosting from the store, whip it with your mixer for a few minutes. You can double it in size. Not only is it easier to spread, you get to frost more cakes. You also eat less sugar and calories per serving. 

*Dear Clarence’s advice should be taken with a grain of salt or a dinner roll, depending on your appetite.


Dear Clarence*

Q: Dear Clarence, recently I made some resolutions in front of my friends and family. Since that time, it was brought to my attention, I might have to actually honor those words. What can I do to get myself out of this fix.
                                      Eating my words in Delano
A: Dear Delano, first of all, remind everyone that most resolutions are doomed to fail. Secondly, point out that silly resolutions are made all the time, for instance: US House Resolution 419, establishing the National Dog Bite Prevention Week or House Resolution 578 calling for a National Watermelon Month. (An obvious slight against the cantaloupe.) Announce that you have no intention of being held to such an artificial standard and will work in your own way to accomplish your goals. It is the right thing to do! Besides you need all your time to join into the effort to support House Bill 486, that supports the ideal of teaching Americans to sing the National Anthem correctly.
Q: Mr. Clarence, my wife would like me to put in new flooring in the bathroom. Is this hard to do? I noticed a little “softness in the corner of the sheet rock behind the toilet, should I work on that too.
                                      Disaster Waiting to Happen Guy
A: Dear Disaster, have you had a physical lately? Do you have access to unlimited funds? By any chance has you wife started talking color swatches? My advice is to set up a trust fund and hire a carpenter to begin the process. Set an extra plate at the table, because he will be there for a while.
 Q: Dear Clarence, recently I started to pay attention to the presidential debates. Can you explain to me what they are talking about?

A: Dear Perplexed, you are under the illusion that just because someone says something, it must have meaning. Nothing could be further from the truth, I have known many politicians that have not really said anything for years. In fact, they hold races just to find out who can speak the most words without expressing a thought.

*Dear Clarence’s advice should be taken with a grain of salt or a dinner roll, depending on your appetite.

Dear Clarence*

Q: Clarence, I’ve noticed that you seem to know a lot about exercise, can you help me choose a place to exercise?
A: If you are at a gym and all of the other members are overweight and out of shape chances are you are not at a very good gym. I’ve also noticed the best places have HD TV and snack bars.
Q: A friend told me  I should cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?
A: Your friend is misinformed. What does a cow eat? Hay and corn. And what are these? Vegetables. So a steak is nothing more than an efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system. Beef is also a good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable). And a pork chop can give you 100% of your recommended daily allowance of vegetable products. Bacon is a good choice to round out any meal.
Q: On Opra, I heard them talking about body/fat ratio, how can I calculate my mine?
A: It’s very simple, if you have a body and you have fat, your ratio is one to one. If you have two bodies, your ratio is two to one, etc.
Q: Dear Clarence, my wife and I cannot agree on the most appropriate fork to use with fish when a dedicated fish fork is not available.

I prefer the genteel salad fork while my wife and son use the heaviest fork available.

Which do you prefer?
A: While I appreciate your desire to raise your fork etiquette to a higher level, it appears to me, you are working much too hard at this. The Minnesota State Fair solved this dilemma quite nicely by putting the fish on a stick, dipping it into batter and deep-frying it.
Q: Mr. Clarence, recently the car my wife drives started smoking. At first it happen every once in a while but now, it’s all the time. The car is quite old and has a lot of miles on it. What can we do?
A: Consider yourself lucky to be a Minnesotan. Our legislators have solved the problem for you. All you have to do is bring the car with you to your favorite bar or tavern. Thanks to the smoking ban now in place, your car will automatically quit smoking.

*Dear Clarence’s advice should be taken with a grain of salt or a dinner roll, depending on your appetite.

Dear Clarence*

Q: Dear Clarence, during the past month, I have noticed that the Minnesota Twins look pretty good. In fact, with the addition of a power hitter, I believe they could take it all. The guys in the bar think I am crazy, but I believe we just can’t lose. Do you think I’m listening to too much Sid Hartman?
A: Dear Rosie, fawning over Minnesota sports teams is a highly respected tradition. Take Ex-Governor Carlson. The man loved anything claiming the state’s name. If a team called Minnesota home, Carlson would back them. Even Governor Pawlenty wore a Twin’s Jersey when he signed the legislation enabling Carl Pohlad to get nearly a half a billion dollars. Your not crazy, you just need to run for public office.
Q: Dear Dave, Lately, my wife has noticed I have been confusing people’s names. It’s become embarrassing, especially when I call the preacher by the bar owner’s name!
Do you have any tricks to help me remember names?
                                      Aphasic Greeter
A: Dear So and So, aside from using generic greetings for the rest of your life, I’ve found that if you stick to places where you feel comfortable you won’t have a problem. Believe it or not, when I stay in the basement, my memory works fine. If I do have to go out, I just bring my wife, her memory is perfect.
*Dear Clarence’s advice should be taken with a grain of salt or a dinner roll, depending on your appetite.

Paper Entrepreneurs

When my brother, Eugene and I were in junior high we had paper routes. We didn’t just have one each, we had six of them between us.

We delivered the Fargo Forum, Daily and Sunday Editions, The Times Record, Two Minneapolis Tribune Sunday routes and one daily Minneapolis Tribune route. Sunday was the hardest day; we delivered approximately 250 papers. When we grew older, we assisted in selling the Sunday paper on the corner of Central and 4th Street, right across from Foss Drug which was the only store of size allowed to be open that day.

Our Sunday routes were so large our father had to help us with the logistics. He would help by placing bundles of newspapers along the route to replenish our bike baskets. This was tough on him and I am sure he would have loved to have stayed home to drink his coffee. (If you really want to know how much you parents care about you, ask them to help you deliver newspapers Sunday after Sunday after Sunday!)

In order to really succeed in paper routes, you had to learn how to sell new subscriptions. New subscriptions were the key to building routes. It was just as easy to deliver 40 newspapers as thirty, if you sold the new subscriptions on your normal route you traveled. Sometimes you were given a customer that was off your route, which added length to your day. The only way to make it pay off was to add other new customers around that same area.

Not only did you build your route with new sales, some of the newspapers gave bonuses for selling the new subscriptions. The Minneapolis Tribune was especially known for this. Archie Anderson was the Minneapolis Tribune District Sales Manager and he was good at his job. He could wind up a bunch of 7th and 8th graders and turn them into a well oiled sales team. With the promise of plastic cameras, hand warmers and baseball gloves, they would hound their parents and relatives until they bought enough newspaper subscriptions for each child to reach his goal.

A person doesn’t do well in selling subscriptions without learning a few sales tricks. Eugene and I were masters of them all. If it was summer, our shoes had holes in them. If it was winter, we were missing hats and gloves. We were constantly supplied with sales order forms that had pictures of the reward premiums to show the potential subscriber. Eugene and I always circled the prize we were working towards. And, no matter what, we always needed just one more subscription to win that prize. People loved to fill in the last subscription blank knowing that their subscription put us over the top. We made sure we always had a sales order forms pre-filled with names and addresses giving everyone the opportunity to do just that.

With the Star Tribune alone, we won trips to Minnesota Twins Games, the Minnesota State Fair, and Water skiing on Lake Minnetonka. For boys from Valley City, ND these were huge prizes. Besides the trips, we actually did win some coats, gloves, hats, and cash.

At one point, we were doing so well, that Archie Anderson sent out a special edition newsletter to all his carriers telling them about Eugene and my successes and giving them some of our sales techniques. The biggest lesson we learned was to make sure to share our successes, it was important that customers knew they were part of the reason we made the goals.

Unfortunately, part of the business was collecting monies for the subscriptions. It’s a hard lesson to learn that people would purposely hide when we knocked on the door, because they didn’t have the money to pay. It was even a harder lesson to learn that if they didn’t pay, the money came out of our pay. Luckily this was a rare occurrence and we learned quickly to weed out the poor payers.

Even with the occasional set back, our income at that time was quite high. We were clearing over a hundred dollars a month apiece, not including the lawn mowing and snow shoveling businesses.

I’d like to say we saved the money for a college education, but we didn’t. It would be nice to say we bought clothes, but we didn’t. We did become experts at pinball and arcade games. If we got anything permanent from our paper routes it was experience. That, in fact, turned out to be the best reward of all!