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.