Wednesday, April 30, 2014

GOP votes to punish workers

Koch brothers prevail once again
By doing as expected in blocking a vote on raising the minimum wage, Senate Republicans showed they truly do not care about the American economy.

Of course, they do care about the uber-rich like the Koch brothers, who don't want the minimum wage increased to $10.10 per hour. Polls show that the majority of Americans, including Republicans voters, want the minimum wage raised to $10.10.

And, that $10.10 per hour wouldn't be reached for two and half years.

To put that hourly rate in perspective, if the minimum wage were raised to match what it was worth in 1968 (the historic, inflation-adjusted peak year of $1.60/hr.), the minimum wage should be $10.86.

In 2017, when that $10.10 per hour would be attained under the defeated Senate bill, the minimum wage should be closer to $11.50 per hour.

The main talking point that the GOP uses to suppress the minimum wage is that it will kill jobs.

There is little evidence to show that. In fact, the opposite is true.

In 1968, the jobless rate was 3.6 percent and went down in 1969 to 3.5 percent. Today, the national unemployment rate is 6.7 percent.

In the 1960s, though, Americans actually produced the things they consumed. As Stephen Colbert once joked, "the only factory we have left is the Cheesecake Factory."

That's untrue. We also have the Spaghetti Factory.

Of course, raising the minimum wage won't necessarily reduce the jobless rate, but it certainly won't have a negative effect. 

In Oregon and Washington, voters had the good sense to raise the minimum wage and peg annual increases to the rate of inflation. Oregon's minimum wage is $9.10 her hour and Washington's is $9.32, the highest in the nation.

In all, 21 states have minimum wages above the national rate of $7.25 per hour.

The daily newspaper here even showed that our current minimum wage isn't enough to meet basic needs. Citing figures from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a worker would need $12.40 an hour and a 40-hour workweek to afford a one-bedroom apartment in Deschutes County.

If a higher minimum wage truly costs jobs, then the jobless rate would not have declined in all those states with a base wage above $7.25 per hour. In fact, the jobless rate has gone down in those states in the past couple of years.

Also, we now have conclusive proof that the "trickle-down" economic policies begun in the 1980s were a colossal failure. The middle class was devastated and the national debt soared.

The problem is that the rich don't spend enough money to keep the economy afloat. Job creation emerges when the vast majority of people have more money to spend, which is precisely why we need to increase the minimum wage.

Yes, "a rising tide lifts all boats," but adding a few dozen yachts in the ocean is not going to raise many dinghies across the country. More water, i.e. a higher income, is what's needed to raise the tide for all.

With the vote today, Senate Republicans proved, in the words of Texas Sen. John Cornyn, that the GOP is "bad and hard-hearted."

It doesn't give a damn about minimum-wage workers and is doing everything it can to thwart a full recovery of the economy, which would reduce the national debt.

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