A Debate About Minimum Wage: Who Are We Kidding?

News flash: The Republicans are still doing everything they can to self-destruct and to take the middle class, the working poor, and the poor with them.

Oh, and they’re taking those Americans who have been completely duped by their message and their ideology with them, too.

Democrats Assail G.O.P. After Filibuster of Proposal to Raise Minimum Wage

Senator Charles E. Schumer, center, with Senator Harry Reid, second from left, spoke Wednesday about the minimum wage bill. Credit Gabriella Demczuk/The New York Times
Senator Charles E. Schumer, center, with Senator Harry Reid, second from left, spoke Wednesday about the minimum wage bill. Credit Gabriella Demczuk/The New York Times

 

Let’s review the facts and the math.

  • The official poverty line for a family of 4 is $23,850.00
  • There are 2080 working hours in a 40hour/week year
  • If you can even find a 40-hour/week job paying $23,850 a year, your POVERTY hourly pay rate is $11.47/hour.

Poverty.

Not struggling-to-get-by. Not skipping-the-beach-this-year or eating-out-less scrimping and saving. Not we’ll-have-to-sell-the-vacation-home or skip-putting-the-pool-in-this-year. Not even the ol’ hamburger-instead-of-steak kind of “poor.”

We’re talking about real poverty at an hourly rate ABOVE what the GOP is already blocking.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

“In 2012, 75.3 million workers in the United States age 16 and over were paid at hourly rates, representing 59.0 percent of all wage and salary workers. Among those paid by the hour, 1.6 million earned exactly the prevailing federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. About 2.0 million had wages below the federal minimum. Together, these 3.6 million workers with wages at or below the federal minimum made up 4.7 percent of all hourly paid workers.”

The GOP is blocking a pay increase for what amounts to about 5% of the hourly paid workers in America.

BTW, 49.4% of them are age 25 or older, so it’s not the conservative meme (lie) of just kids working part-time flipping burgers.

What are we to conclude? What does this bit of GOP obstructionism tell us? One of two things.

Either the 3.6million workers – only 4.7% of all hourly workers, after all – is such a small number of workers put at risk of losing their jobs due to an hourly minimum increase that it can’t possibly be worth doing because of the harm it could do to business
– or –
these people just don’t deserve to be paid more than $7.25/hour regardless of the job they have because “the market” has determined their worth, not to mention that business owners deserve to keep almost everything because, after all, employees like these are just raw materials to be used and replaced at the absolute lowest cost possible.

Both are extreme arguments, of course. Or are they?

Increasing the minimum wage will not cause all 3.6million workers to lose their jobs. I also don’t believe for one second that all business owners and every Republican are inhuman ogres who see people as raw materials.

What we should be is very clear about the facts, and we should not be afraid to talk about them as adults.

Raising the minimum wage does not kill jobs. Republicans repeat this over and over as a means for keeping their constituents – especially those they can manipulate more easily and who are outside the top 2% – misinformed, scared, and voting for them, of course.

Their strategy relies almost entirely on perpetuating the lie that is trickle-down economics.

So, there are 2 things I think we all need to be talking more openly and honestly about.

1. Not All Businesses Are a Business

If your business can’t afford to pay your workers a wage that is ABOVE the poverty line, you don’t have a business. Well, you might have a business technically, but your business plan sucks and you’re not really operating a business. You have either a hobby or fiefdom.

What you are NOT is a job creator. Paying someone so little that they remain poor and at least partially dependent on public assistance is not a job.

If the profit you generate from your business doesn’t allow you to pay your workers a true living wage after you’ve taken your wage out, then your business model needs serious reexamination. It might be a hobby.

If, on the other hand, you’re making millions and even billions like the Waltons, and you still refuse to pay a living wage, not only are you a “taker” for forcing the rest of us to subsidize your workers AND your profits, you are also an uncaring, unfeeling, and incredibly greedy and abusive human being. You need to reexamine your morals, your ethics, and your humanity. You’re just a greedy SOB, and you’re still NOT a job creator.

These things need to be said. There’s nothing admirable or respectable about the Walton family or people like them. They are the Robber Barons of the New Gilded Age.

2. What’s Wrong With Voters?

If you’re not in the top 2% of income earners making $250K or more per year regardless of what you do for a living and you’re still voting for Republicans, you’re only hurting yourself and your fellow middle class, working poor, and impoverished Americans.

There’s no other way to put it.

You are voting against your own economic self-interests and the economic self-interest of everyone but the very wealthy. It’s obvious. The GOP is the party of trickle-down economics, and trickle-down economics is undeniably one of the greatest lies ever perpetrated on the world. If you refuse to see the facts and reality of the last 30+ years, then you’re just being stubborn or obtuse.

And, we haven’t even gotten to tipped workers yet.

So, as of today, H.R. 1010, the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, has 196 cosponsors. They are all Democrats.

Where’s the debate?

We can punish Republicans in November, or we can keep punishing ourselves.

It’s a choice each of us gets to make come election time.

 

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