Newspaper Archive of
The Sun Newspaper
Trenton, Illinois
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December 31, 2014     The Sun Newspaper
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December 31, 2014
 

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Wednesday, December 31,2014 Trenton Sun Page 5 - Opinion Our office is like a well-lighted fish- bowl at night. I noticed it one recent evening when I was working a little late, and was the recipient of a number of waves from passersby, none of whom I recognized but to each of whom I duti- fully waved back. For most of life I have followed the advice given me by a neighbor boy of my grandparents, during one of my boyhood visits to their house. They lived in, and I was born in, a southwestern Louisiana town about half the size of Trenton. I asked him one day why ev- eryone there who passed in a car waved wildly at anyone they saw, whether they knew them or not, he said this, in a deep Louisiana drawl: 'Round here, we're just so happy to see somebody, we just wave.' So I figure waving back is the least we can do, as a civilized society. It makes me feel good for people--even shad- owy, unrecognizable forms passing by--to wave at me as I'm work- ing past dark. But some- times, it makes me a bit uncomfortable. Our office is entirely fronted by glass, so when it's lit up at night, you can see inside from a block away. At work by myself, I have a ten- dency to forget myself sometimes. So you're just as likely to see me singing along with the radio at the top of my lungs, or dancing a little jig, or scratching myself, as you are to see me diligently working away. Many years ago, a woman walked into the office one afternoon as I was tucking in my shirt. That wouldn't have been so bad except for the fact that I had decided to really tuck it in good, and thus had .]. my trousers around my knees as I smoothed down the shirt. Oh, and I was wearing a pair of boxer shorts with red hearts printed all over them. She seemed slightly embarrassed, but not nearly as embar- rassed as I was. You probably won't see that again (not that you'd want to), because I haven't tucked in a shirt in years. Pos- Mike's Musings Mike Conley sibly the incident scarred me in some subconscious way I've only just become aware of. But if you do find me in a compromis- ing position, oblivious to the outsiders looking in on my little dance party, it would probably be best for both of us if you just went on your way and pre- tended it never happened. Otherwise, it could be a bit awkward. In winter, when the show starts as early as 4:30 or so, I have to be more - careful than in summer, when the sun doesn't set until past eight or so. So keep on waving, and I'll keep on waving back, but don't look too closely, or you might see something you'll wish you could forget but won't be able to. Boost business by raising minimum wage By Chris Sommers As a restaurant owner operating in four states and looking to expand, I'm happy to see the minimum wage going up in 21 states to kick off the new year. I'd like to see the federal mini- mum wage increase as well to benefit business and our economy nationwide. Last spring, my business partner, Frank Uible, and I raised the minimum wage in our restaurants to $10.10. And we did it without rais- ing prices. Our teams work hard at our restaurants. But some of our employees couldn't afford to buy the pizza they put so much effort into for our guests. That's not right. And it's not good for busi- ness. Business owners don't create more jobs when they have more money in their own pockets thanks to low wages. We create more jobs when other people have more money in their pockets to spend at our businesses. More working Americans walking around with money to spend is what fuels this economy and creates more consumer demand. Some business owners who haven't run the num- bers like us will say they can't afford a wage increase. I'm here to tell them they can. A sense of right and wrong may have sparked our decision, but it was old- fashioned number crunch- ing that showed we can and should do what Congress should have already done, Our increased payroll costs were more than balanced by reduced employee turnover rates, increased productiv- ity and greater customer satisfaction. We lost employees before because they couldn't afford to fill their tank with gas to get to work, or make a car repair. Employees who can make ends meet stay lon- ger, are less stressed and are more productive. Too many people forget that the lower the wage, the higher the employee turn- over, which costs businesses time and money in recruit- ing and training new work- ers. We spend more than $500 training a new line cook. We threw away thou- sands of dollars in product a year due to inexperienced employees preparing it im- properly. Eliminating just a portion of these expenses pays for increased minimum wages. The morale boost and loy- alty we have already gained from our employees also pays for our wage increase. It's a win-win when employ- ees can concentrate on serv- ing customers, without wor- rying about how they are going to make rent or put food on their own table. Our more experienced teams take better care of our guests. We've gained many new customers who have written us notes tell- ing us how grateful they are that we treat our employ- ees fairly. Those guests are =----2014 ----ILUNDIS PRESS I.,....,o,,.: Member of the International Society 'of Weekly Newspaper Editors PHONE (618) 224-9422 FAX (618) 224-2646 email: mike@trentonsun.net Michael L. Conley, Editor @ Publisher THE TRENTON SUN is published weekly by Michael L. and L. Sybil Conley 19 West Broadway, Trenton, IL 62293 Subscriptions paid in advance: $21 per year, $35 per year outside Clinton County $40 per year outside the U.S. Newsstand copies 50 ESTABLISHED IN 1880 ENTERED AT THE TRENTON, IL POST OFFICE AS A PERIODICAL (USPS 638-200) Postmaster: Send address changes to The #enton Sun,/?.0. Box I18, #enton, /I #2293 visiting our business more frequently, further contrib- uting tO our bottom line. We've seen that after im- plementing a $10.10 mini- mum wage our teams are performing better, our labor cost is under budget, our sales are great and we're ex- panding. To those who say jgbs will be eliminated due to wage increases, we say you're wrong! We didn't reduce employ- ees at our St. Louis and Washington DC restau- rants. We created more jobs. We opened a new Pi Pizza this year in Cincinnati, Ohio and are opening soon in Miami, Florida. We're planning a second Pi Pizza in Washington DC and are looking into expanding to new states. And we're far from alone. Contrary to what opponents of a minimum wage raise claim, a 2014 nationwide poll showed that 61% of small business owners with employees support increas- ing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 and adjust- ing it in future years to keep up with the cost of living. It's time for lawmakers to listen to the majority of business owners who believe a minimum wage increase makes good business sense. Individual business owners can't do it alone. Individual states can't do it alone. We need Congress to raise the federal minimum wage for the good of our whole econ- omy. Chris Sommers is Co- Founder of Pi Pizzerias and Gringo Mexican Restaurant based in St. Louis, Missouri, with locations in Washing- ton DC, Ohio and Florida. He is a member of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage. Time to focus on growing the economy by Lee H. Hamilton Recent economic news has been broadly reassuring. Retail sales are strong, Novem- ber saw the best job gains in three years, the federal deficit is shrinking, the stock market is robust, and the Fed is expressing enough faith in the economy that an inter- est rate bump next year is considered a cer- tainty. Yet the public remains unconvinced. This is partly because perceptions haven't caught up to reality. For many middle- and lower-class families, economic circumstanc- es have not changed very much. Strong numbers do, however, offer one unambiguous piece of good news: The pres- sure on policy makers to focus on near-term or immediate problems has eased, which means they can now focus on the funda- mental question of economic growth. As Princeton economist Alan Blinder, political strategist Al From and others have pointed out, now is the time for policy-makers to concentrate on creating the environment in the country for sustained, non-inflationary economic growth. To begin with, we have a chance to get our fiscal house in order and pursue long- term deficit reduction. This means mod- ernizing entitlement spending and shap- ing a tax-reform package that focuses on investments to boost productivity and help the economy to grow for everyone. It also means eliminating public subsidies to indi- vidual enterprises--that money can better be spent on boosting the economic skills of ordinary Americans through education and training. There are other steps government policy- makers can take to improve broad economic growth. We need to expand trade through open markets and simplify the regulatory structure so that it protects Americans without burdening companies beyond rea- son. And we must address our nation's de- ferred infrastructure needs, which hinder the smooth functioning of every business that relies on transporting its goods. The same applies to reforming govern- ment itself. A government that does not work well -- that wastes money, fails its regulatory responsibilities, and cannot make timely decisions -- undermines eco- nomic growth. Finally, policy-makers need to remember that economic growth means providing a ladder out of poverty for the truly needy. Free, competitive markets are the best way to deliver goods and services to Ameri- cans. Government must not get in the way of that system. Nor should it stand idle. The right response by government to our economic challenges is not to focus on the immediate economic problems of the day, but to invest in economic growth for all. Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representa- tives for 34 years.