Wednesday, June 21, 2006

America Deserves A Raise

But the greedy Republicans in Congress aren't about to give it to us. The Senate today voted down a raise in the minimum wage that would have brought it up from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour.

The vote was actually 52 senators in favor of raising the minimum wage. Six Republicans broke ranks with their party leadership to vote for it. And all the Democrats voted for the increase to the minimum wage.

But the Republican leadership, seeing they would be defeated, stuck a procedural clause into the bill that required it to pass by 60 votes. Thus they proved that rather than risk a fair up or down vote, they would change the rules to guarantee their favored outcome. So much for fairness and democracy.

It’s important to realize that a typical minimum wage earner is often a single mother who is the sole support of her family, struggling to get by on a salary of $10,712 a year. She hasn’t had a raise – an increase in the minimum wage - since 1997. In that same time period, Congress has voted to increase its own salary by almost $35,000.

Those who voted against the minimum wage cited the same tired arguments for opposing it that they always give, including the following: 1) Higher wages will cause a loss of jobs because it puts an undue burden on small business owners and slows down the economy; 2) the marketplace should determine the value of peoples’ work and the salaries they are paid.

We can shoot down the first argument quickly. There is no proven link between raising the minimum wage and economic slowdown. Nor has it ever been proven that raising the minimum wage leads to an overall loss of jobs.

But what has been proven is that prices are rising and wages are staying flat at all levels of the workforce. Wage earners are not keeping pace with inflation and it's a special burden for those at the lowest rung of the ladder.

And the argument about letting the marketplace decide the value of wages is a laughable objection coming from this Congress.

After all, where was that marketplace when Congress unilaterally decided to raise its own salary? Where's Congress' concern for the slowdown of the economy or the undue burden on the small businessman, whose taxes presumably went to pay for that wage increase? Heck, where was its concern for the little guy taxpayer like you or me?

Since politicians take polls all the time, I think they should poll us, the taxpaying public, to see who we want to see get a raise?

Do we want to give Congress a $35,000 salary increase, or give a raise of $7.25 an hour to some single mom working as a clerk in Wal Mart?


Light Horse said...

Show me someone who has been working for minimum wage since 1997. That is my no means typical.

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

Actually, there are people in the lower rungs of the economic ladder who, because of layoffs, probably have to go back to square one when they apply for new jobs. So they could be getting minimum wage.

It's also proven that many people laid off from well paying jobs also take salary cuts when they find new jobs,though, I agree, not at minimum wage. But often they find their salaries cut almost in half in new jobs.

That's because high paying manufacturing and high tech jobs have been shipped overseas. The positions that are left in the U.S. are not necessarily in traditionall high paying industries.

Especially nowadays, people no longer go up the salary ladder automatically as they did in the past.

liberalbanana said...

What a great post. You are such a wonderful writer! I hope you do this as a career? Wow. I am so ashamed that the leaders of our country don't seem to understand that people, in this day and age, cannot survive on minimum wage. They end up relying on public services, which strains society in its own way.

Two years ago, I took a second job for a few weeks in an attempt to save some extra cash for my condo's closing, even though I have a job that pays pretty well. (Real estate in DC is so expensive!!!) I took a job at the mall on nights and weekends, getting paid $7.88 an hour. It was really depressing to be given such a pathetic paycheck after giving up that much "free time." Imagine how the people that aren't educated enough to get a better job feel!

I was already sympathetic to the whole raising minimum wage idea but after that experience it really hit home. The job lasted 2 weeks before I put my 2 week notice in; I now work for my local city government for $12 an hour two days a month for extra spending cash.

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

Thank you Liberalbanana for your kind words about my writing. Actually, I am an amateur - I do it for love.

And thank you for sharing your experience and telling us how you felt earning just a little above minimum wage.

I'll bet it felt frustrating and demeaning. I'm glad you found something better paying and more satisfying.

And my wish is that everybody gets a raise - a higher minimum wage for those workers who don't have the same options that we do.

misuchan said...

If I had a raise from my minimum wage job to 7.00 an hour, I could have kept going to college and I would NOT be in the Army right now. Coincidence? I think not. This goes much deeper than just the Congress being greedy.