Moral Contradictions

Friday, June 23, 2006

Minimum Wage

I'm ashamed of the Senate's refusal to raise the minimum wage - how can you justify cutting taxes for the wealthy and giving yourself pay raises all while CEO pay is skyrocketing - and not raise the minimum wage? Oh yeah, not to mention gas prices are eating more and more into folks' budgets, including mine.

Via Howie Luvzus comes some truth from Barbara Ehrenreich's blog:

From a Congress that has consistently cut taxes for the wealthy, themselves included, while cutting programs that serve the poor and the middle class, the minimum wage vote is not entirely surprising. What merits special notice in this instance is the unctuous rhetoric that arose from the sties as Republicans rushed to explain that by holding down the minimum wage they were actually helping the poor. If we don’t keep wages down, they said, grease dripping from the corners of their mouths, the Predators might find their prey less tasty, and unemployment will rise!

Never mind that there is no empirical evidence for this prediction. Employment didn’t plunge the last time the minimum wage was increased, in 1997, nor has this happened in any of the states – Massachusetts for example – that have raised their own minimum wages in the last few years. I grant you that there might be trouble if the minimum wage were to rise at the same rate as CEO pay. As the Institute for Policy Studies reported in 2005, “If the minimum wage had risen as fast as CEO pay since 1990, the lowest paid workers in the US would be earning $23.03 an hour today, not $5.15 an hour.”

Nor is it true, incidentally, that the minimum wage is paid mostly to teenagers working to support their Abercrombie and Fitch habits. According to economist Heather Boushey at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, fewer than one in five minimum wage workers is under the age of 20. In my experience, many of those youthful minimum wage workers are in fact making important contributions, however tiny, to their families’ inadequate incomes.


Recognizing and addressing this issue, to me, is more pressing than useless non-binding resolutions and gay marriage debates.

Call me a crazy liberal, but I have a sneaking suspicion that a single mother working 2 jobs just to put food on the table would benefit more from a small pay raise than knowing that 'dem gays aren't a-marrying.'

I mean, when you have your kids in daycare all day and come home exhausted, only to find yourself charged with helping out with homework, cleaning house, and oh yeah, praying for health insurance, I would think this Congress as failed people in these types of situations.

I've experienced the mentality of paying people minimum wage just because they can. There was no fiscal reason - the attitude was 'they should consider themselves lucky to have a job at all'.

Jesus gave a damn - maybe we should too.

11 Comments:

  • We have a sad, sad, and sad government.

    Are there any decent candidates coming up in the next election?

    Tim

    By Blogger Tim, at Friday, June 23, 2006 3:58:00 PM  

  • Well, with a 98% incumbency rate, I'm not holding my breath.

    Is the current government what the Founding Fathers had in mind, or even close to the spirit?

    By Blogger Nathan, at Friday, June 23, 2006 4:05:00 PM  

  • I'm not really sure what the Founding Fathers had in mind.

    Tim <-- is a governmental/historical idiot.

    I'm mostly well read in Sci-fi and Fantasy novels. Yes, I know how sad that really is.

    From somewhere back in my head I get this idea that they may have desired for a stronger system of States. I don't believe they every desired a true democracy... something about the citizens voting the coffers unto themselves.

    I think we are making it up as we go along most days.

    Tim

    By Blogger Tim, at Friday, June 23, 2006 4:25:00 PM  

  • I'm surprised at the high threshold we Americans seem to have of folks abusing the power of the government. That knowledge would probably blow our minds.

    By Blogger Nathan, at Friday, June 23, 2006 4:29:00 PM  

  • We Democrats have a habit of wearing ourselves out insulting each other before every convention.

    We should:

    Forget Dubya for now. Work on taking back the House and/or the Senate. November is looming.

    And for heaven's sake, grow a backbone and stop apologizing for the truth.

    By Blogger Granny, at Friday, June 23, 2006 6:04:00 PM  

  • Just so you know...

    Tim <--- Lifelong Republican...

    Truth be told, if Leiberman would have run, I would have voted for him. But, he was the only Democrat that I would have voted for. From my prespective, both the Democrats and Republicans are just as guilty as the other.

    Tim

    By Blogger Tim, at Friday, June 23, 2006 6:08:00 PM  

  • Yeah, I'm not really a Democrat either, but I don't wholly identify with the GOP. There's good things and bad things about the principles each party espouses, but I'm definitely not impressed with the standard bearers of either parties.

    I'll either vote for a 'liberal' Republican or 'conservative' Democrat. In short, I look for a pragmatist who has a vision, yet understands reality and works to change it.

    Or in the case of 2004, the least of the worst.

    By Blogger Nathan, at Friday, June 23, 2006 9:05:00 PM  

  • As for me, I'm quite tired of voting for the "least of the worst". There's not much difference between Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee. If those are my choices, I will exercise my right not to vote. What if they held an election and nobody showed up?

    By Blogger Marty, at Saturday, June 24, 2006 3:32:00 AM  

  • Considering how low the voter turnout is overall, they are already doing that. If we get somewhere between 10-15% voter turnout, they say, "Wow! What a record!" All I can do is sadly shake my head. The people haven't voted in a long time. I think that it is mostly because of the low level of candidate put forward by polarized political parties.

    Tim

    By Blogger Tim, at Saturday, June 24, 2006 8:47:00 AM  

  • If your objective is to help the working poor, an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit would be a much more effective and equitable way of doing so than raising the minimum wage.

    In terms of fighting poverty, the EITC is highly effective because it puts more actual money into the hands of the working poor whereas the minimum wage is simply a huge off-the-books tax that redistributes wealth from employers to minimum wage employees. The EITC also reduces entitlement spending, provides a boost to the local economy from the bottom up, and increases labor force participation.

    Over two thirds of those who work for minimum wage are not living in poverty. In striking contrast, most of the working poor make a substantial amount of money more than the minium wageand and but for the EITC would be living in poverty and would need to apply for food stamps and other entitlement programs.

    By Blogger Internet Esquire, at Monday, July 03, 2006 2:17:00 AM  

  • IE: I tend to agree with some of the commenters on your own blog that though the EITC is economically brilliant, the minimum wage raise helps worker pride. More worker pride ideally equals more worker productivity and general contentment.

    I worked for minimum wage in a setting where management could pay more but simply didn't. Not to mention we were not treated well by the organization anyways. Oh, and raises weren't possible - folks had been there for years and the joke was an act of Congress was the only hope for a raise.

    All that to say, I was instrumental in pushing for higher pay along with potential for raises. The increase really wasn't much, but the effect of the morale boost was electric, and gasp! - worker productivity increased overnight.

    Thanks for your two cents and for considering the issue. One way or the other, this issue needs to be not just addressed, but resolved.

    By Blogger Nathan, at Monday, July 03, 2006 11:55:00 PM  

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