Haymarket, I appreciate the many good points you have made on this thread. Thanks for posting!
Lursa - Hi there too!! Just wanted to say re your posts - it's easy to say people don't have to work minimum wage jobs - but when the recession hit, even people with degrees were taking minimum wage jobs because nothing else was available.
However, I do agree that educating our young people (or re-educating older people!) is vital ; while all kids should be encouraged to go to college if possible, not all kids want to do that, and so we need strong vo-tech programs right alongside strong college-bound courses. And kids should probably take courses from both sides of the curriculum. (My step-kids ended up not going to a 4 yr college; but we told them that while in high school, even if they weren't sure about college, they should act as though they were going and take all the right courses; you can always decide later not to go if it's not right for you. Unfortunately, vo-tech has been so reduced in so many schools, they weren't able to really take any classes along those lines, and I do think the older one would have really enjoyed being a carpenter if she had been exposed to classes in it... sadly, can't get her to go into apprenticeship training in a trade now that she's out of school)
And yes, while WalMart is the obvious example to use about stores coming in, demanding things from local cities/counties, driving down wages and closing locally owned stores - no, they aren't the only one out there with rapacious business practices. They are just the biggest bullies out there, so it's convenient to use them as the example.