Robinson Cano and the fight against poverty

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Some readers will immediately classify this as the musings of a liberal columnist. But I happen to be on the same page as Pope Francis, who continually reminds the world that there are hundreds of millions of people who can’t help themselves who need an outstretched hand.

A new farm bill doesn’t mean much to the people who struggle on the Long Island Expressway every day, but it means a lot to women who are in need of good nutrition programs for their children. Some Republican members of Congress consider food stamps a giveaway to some bum sitting on a couch and drinking beer all day. In fact, more than 26 million people who use food stamps hold full-time jobs, but need the help to supplement their meager income. The conservative block of the House of Representatives has a solution for that program: cutting it by another $40 billion, on top of recent cuts.

The recent nationwide strike of fast-food workers didn’t attract any support from any of those big-time baseball free agents who are getting multi-year contracts. But here’s a simple statistic. A person working full-time for the minimum wage at Mc Donald’s earns $14,500 a year. Notwithstanding the cries of some big-business lobbying group that an increase in the minimum wage ($8 an hour in New York as of the first of the year) will bankrupt small businesses, it’s time for the national conscience to kick in and correct this injustice.

I contrast Robinson Cano’s big payday with his fellow player Curtis Granderson. When Granderson left Detroit, he had been a leader in helping the poor children of that city survive, and he continued that effort while here in New York. I would have been proud of Robinson Cano if he had announced at the signing of his $235 million contract that he was donating $5 million to fight poverty in America. That’s when I would have respected him a lot more.

Jerry Kremer was a state assemblyman for 23 years, and chaired the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee for 12 years. He now heads Empire Government Strategies, a business development and legislative strategy firm. Comments about this column?

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