What holds people back?

Take the right turn in Duke City and you can find anything.

The feeling of “living just enough for the city” as Stevie Wonder so elegantly phrased it is becoming more common in American cities.  Housing prices are soaring above wages and the gap between the working lower classes and the upper affluent classes is stark but opportunities remain.  There are always opportunities for the less fortunate, it just requires a little creativity.

I commute to my job on public transit and every day I see people who look as though they are going hard times – not well dresses, poor hygiene, a little spaced out (possibly on a foreign substance) – but they all seem to be able to scrape together enough money for a bus ticket.  What’s even more amazing is that most of these people have a smartphone in-hand with ear-buds or headphones on their heads.  Regardless of how my lower-class peers are able to afford these small luxuries, I don’t think they realize the kind of opportunities they can access with these devices alone.

A mobile phone can provide one with organizational tools for planning a day and recording other phone numbers for future reference (the start of any entrepreneurial endeavor) as well as grant you access to an internet connection via any public library or city-owned building.  Are most people even aware of the existence of public libraries these days?

I’m not the most entrepreneurial or business-minded person but I can still hold a job and keep hold of some money; it doesn’t take a lot of thought or effort.  What is holding so many people back?  Drugs, mental health, an inability to utilize money effectively, obsessive personalities combined with addictive (or even criminal) behaviors?  I genuinely want to know.

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NM’s HB31 Amended to Protect Tips; Understandable but Flawed

House Bill 31, the “Phased-In Minimum Wage Increase,” has been amended to protect earned tips of restaurant servers.

The amendment reads:

“From the effective date of this 2019 act until July 1, 2022, an employer may pay a lower cash minimum wage rate pursuant to Subsection D of this section only if the employer can establish that for each week that an employee who customarily and regularly receives more than thirty dollars ($30.00) a month in tips works, the sum of the employee’s tips combined with the employer’s cashwage is not less than the minimum wage rate as provided inSubsection A of this section (NM Representative Miguel Garcia, NM Legislature, 2019).”

I think it’s logical for restaurant servers to react defensively to this bill as it was originally written but I think that reaction is based in an understanding that helps their employers take advantage of them.  As I’ve stated in previous postings here, a tip from a customer in any industry is not mandatory.  Even if a server demands a tip, the customer is not legal bound to provide one.  It is simply an expression of good faith on the part of the consumer toward the business worker.  I don’t believe that any worker’s pay check should be contingent upon the potential good faith of particular consumers.  All of the responsibility of worker pay should be on the business.  A separate “serving wage” for food servers creates a minimum wage double standard between the food service industry and every other industry and it is exploited by businesses whose bottom line is higher profits.

“You have the possibility for more money through tips so I’m going to pay you less than the standard minimum for every other industry.”

^ That is the logic behind this double standard, it essentially outsources responsibility to the workers themselves forcing them to become entertainers as well as food servers, begging for tips because they get paid less than other workers.

Customers in any food establishment should not be expected to supplement the wages of the servers and they definitely should not be guilt-tripped into giving a larger tip out of sympathy.  Businesses should pay food servers the same minimum wage as every other industry as well as let servers keep all the tips they earn from customers.

Americans live under multiple governments.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

It seems like most of the corporate media’s focus is on the dealings of the national government, the federal government.  CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC provide 24-hour coverage on what is happening with various national politicians.  It is too be expected since those organizations brand themselves as national news outlets but what about the states in which they are based?  The state governments that those organizations operate under have more of an effect on them than the national government.

A key component of a democratic-republic is its federalist structure (a separation of powers).  The Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution give the national government ultimate authority in conflicting areas of interest between the national government and the state governments, but the state governments have their own authority within their own respective territories; the states can stand up to the national government in particular instances. Scholars of constitutionalism refer to American states as “laboratories of democracy” because elected officials in each state (and, by extension, their respective municipalities) can tailor their government to their particular populations.

I have yet to see a news program that focuses on the legislative processes of all the governments under which Americans live.

Entrepreneur creates mobile app for small California town.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

No Ego Apps Development Incorporated, or NEAD Inc., is a private company that creates mobile apps for iPhone and Android users.  Its founder and chief executive officer lives in Seal Beach, California, and has created an app specifically for the community.

SB app, screenshot
Screenshot of the Seal Beach app designed by NEAD Inc.

TJ Sokoll lives on the Boardwalk in Seal Beach and is a strong believer in personal civic participation.  He began his career as an app developer with video games but quickly realized the potential beyond entertainment. “I realized that these aren’t just games, this is a computer in everybody’s hand” says Sokoll, although this was not his initial career plan. enormous “I was actually a stockbroker for quite a few years but I became disenfranchised with everything the financial industry was about, so I left and was looking for something else to do.” That was at age 34.  Sokoll said that he got into mobile game development on a whim when he created a video stickball game for his friends and was able to put it on the Apple store.  Within days he saw that it had been downloaded across the world and decided to give the industry a shot. NEAD Inc. had created between 30 and 35 games when it began to branch out into other aspects of the mobile sector.  Sokoll wanted to create an app for Seal Beach because he wanted to give residents here a tool for connecting with each other and crafting their voice in the community. “At the time that I started, there seemed to be such a disconnect with our local communities – everyone was so enamored with Twitter and Facebook and you were connected to everyone around the world – but we didn’t know was happening in our own backyard.” NEAD Inc.’s first client was the city of Diamond Bar, California, in 2011 and that app is now in its third version.  NEAD Inc. has since created 18 more apps for cities across Orange County, including Huntington Beach and Seal Beach under the umbrella, MyCivicApps. “We’ve made custom apps for cities, boys & girls clubs, schools, politicians, organizations, non-profits, and some celebrities.  It’s been an interesting run, to say the least.” The Seal Beach app has been live for about two weeks now and specifically gives users an RSS feed to the City of Seal Beach website as well as access to web pages for various city departments with contact information for those departments.  This easy access to city information makes for an open resource for citizen participation in local issues as well as citizen journalism.  The app also gives users an RSS feed for press releases from the city and news articles from the Sun News. Most of NEAD Inc.’s apps are available for free at your respective app store on your mobile device.  Sokoll explained that he built his Seal Beach app for free and maintains it for free because he believes in what the app can be for people here: a public resource. “It took me maybe three hours to put this app together and get it out to the community and it didn’t cost me anything because it’s on my platform, so why wouldn’t I do it?” Sokoll also explained that he tried to give the app to the City of Seal Beach so they could run it as a public resource, but the city declined his offer.  A city official said they are reviewing different apps but at present don’t have the resources to maintain one – including personnel to answer questions or interact with residents.  The business district for Huntington Beach, on the other hand, accepted a similar offer and now manages an app that NEAD Inc. created for them called “HB Downtown.” Sokoll is currently developing plans for expanding MyCivicApps past Orange County and across the United States.  One can find more information about NEAD Inc.’s apps at the web address: <http://www.mycivicapps.com>.  Sokoll is 40-years-old and also works as a tech consultant for a variety of clients.

TJ Sokoll
TJ Sokoll, founder and CEO of NEAD Inc.

Publisher’s note: the above article was originally intended for the Sun News in Seal Beach, Caifornia, but it was pulled during the eleventh hour.  The writer has decided to publish it himself.