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Monday, October 24, 2016

“In the wealthiest nation on earth,” President Obama declared in his State of the Union speech, “no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty.”

Right! Way to go! Not only does his call to raise America’s minimum wage put some real pop in populism, but it could finally start putting some ethics back in our country’s much-celebrated (but rarely honored) “work ethic.” Kudos to Obama for putting good economics and good morals together — and for putting this long overdue increase on the front burner.

But then came the number: $9 an hour. Excuse me, Mr. President, but if you’re going to bother making the fight, why start out with a number so low that many minimum-wage employees would still “have to live in poverty”?

About 60 percent of America’s lowest-paid workers are women, including single moms struggling awfully hard to make ends meet. Yet, at your $9-an-hour level, a single woman with two children, would, in fact, be paid a poverty wage. And, since you would slowly phase in the increase, she wouldn’t even be paid that until nearly two years from now.

Yes, nine bucks is a buck-seventy-five better than the current low wage of high misery, but it doesn’t even elevate the buying power of our nation’s wage floor back to where it was in 1968. Nor, by the way, does it match the $9.50 level you pledged to push in 2008 when you were running for president.

This is not merely about extending a badly needed helping hand to people struggling to work their way out of poverty, but it’s also about enabling them to give a bottom-up jolt of new energy to our economy, which it desperately needs.

Ironically, while super-rich corporations are hoarding trillions of dollars in offshore accounts, refusing to invest in our nation, minimum-wage workers will invest every extra dollar they get in America — spending it right where they live on clothing, food, transportation, health care and other needs.

A 2011 Federal Reserve study found that a $1 hike in the minimum wage produces an additional $2,800 a year in spending by each of those households — so this is no time to shortchange these workers.

  • Sand_Cat

    Unfortunately, meek proposals is all we’re likely to get.

  • A livable minimum wage would not ony allow millions of Americans to earn enough to support themselves, without the need for government assistance, it would also increase our spending power, which would help stimulate the economy and achieve sustainable growth. If other industrialized countries can afford to pay livable wages, enjoy an above average standard of living, and remain competitive, so can we. The problem is that we spend more money on “Defense”, crusades and ensuring donors get a cut whenever we invade Third World and developing countries. Redistribution of wealth to help corporations and the elite that already owns 2/3 of our financial wealth is a problem, not a solution.

  • Budjob

    The minimum wagw should have been TEN DOLLARS AN HOUR 10 years ago!!!

    • That would cause layoffs and inflation in the current economy due to corporate greed.

  • boyno

    For the life of me, I can’t understand why any proposal for a minimum wage has never been linked to inflation, so that we can stop this petty fighting. Same with the Alternative Minimum Tax, which started snagging middle-income workers after 20 years without an inflation adjustment. Social Security gets a yearly COLA, why not everything else?

    And YES, the Repulican message is always, I got mine, if you aren’t successful it must be because you’re lazy. They tend to equate a loss of income (say in increased taxes) as a reduction in jobs for lower paid workers–never saying that, hey, maybe I don’t really need to make $5 million a year, maybe I can get by with $4.9 milliion.

    The way to get the economy going, and thus reduce the debt (which did not seem to be important under Bush), you have to get money in the hands of the people who have a pent-up spending demand from years of being underpaid. Corporations are sitting on record amounts of cash, funneling it into a smaller and smaller group of people.

    I’ve got more to rant about, but I hate long comments myself.

    • Social Security does not get a yearly COLA, until 2012 there hadn’t been a raise given to people receiving Social Security for three years, and all of the three years prices went up but there was no increase in what people on Social Security got. The minmum wage should be at $12.oo an hour then maybe people could stop having to get food stamps to feed their children and it would cause other government benefits to go down also.

      • boyno

        SS has gotten a COLA review every year– January 2007 — 3.3%
        January 2008 — 2.3%
        January 2009 — 5.8%
        January 2010 — 0.0%
        January 2011 — 0.0
        January 2012 — 3.6%
        January 2013 — 1.7%
        (figures taken from SS website) It just FEELS like you’re not getting any more money (which it should), but of course it doesn’t keep up with the average senior’s rising costs. Yes, computers, TV’s and new cars are going way down in price (and gasoline, which figured heavily into the zero COLA years, but the average senior does not buy these things, instead spending money on prescriptions,food, rent and local taxes.

  • What are you trying to do? Give the Koch Brothers a stroke?

    • july860

      Now there’s an idea….

  • ralphkr

    Just consider that if instead of giving billions to big business/finance to use to buy other businesses, pay super bonuses to the brass, invest off-shore, buy back stock and/or just stash away in their coffers we had merely said “OK, double unemployment payments, SS, and vet’s pensions for a year or just for 6 months.” (NO, I don’t get any of those but rely on investment income & a modest pension) and the economy would have boomed as 95% of that extra money would have been spent in local business and that would have caused manufacturers to have to ramp up to replace inventory in the distribution line.

  • 9$ is great according to calculations on how much a person living by him/herself would need to make to take care of him/herself. Of course it doesn’t cover children, but you shouldn’t even have kids if you’re on minimum wage. It’s that persons fault for not controlling him/herself and waiting to have children. Why should employers have to pay for ignorance and irresponsibility? Wait until you have an established career and education before having kids!