The Republican opposition to the minimum wage increase can seem, and is, outrageous and hypocritical given they are the people telling poor and working class Americans to go out and get a job! Pull yourself up by your bootstraps! Enjoy the incredible sense of fulfillment and accomplishment you will feel when you achieve the American Dream through your own hard work and labor, the exhilaration of self-reliance! But, do it on $7.25 an hour! You really wonder, is it “welfare” and “entitlement programs” that are trapping people in dependency and hopelessness, or is it trying to feed your family on $7.25 an hour?
One argument against the minimum wage increase is that these jobs are intended for students and retirees. They are not meant to feed and shelter a family of four. Yet, according to studies by the Pew Research Center and the AFL-CIO, more than 49 percent of minimum wage workers are over 25 years old. Fully half of minimum wage workers are white women.
Some opponents to the minimum wage increase argue that the proposed $10.10 an hour wage is not a solution to poverty, and that most families living in poverty either already earn above the minimum wage, or for a slew of reasons, would not be helped by an increase in the minimum wage. This is a fact that fast-food workers have figured out, and why they’ve organized an effort for a $15 an hour wage.
But the real question no one is asking or answering, and that is being conveniently obscured by the minimum wage debate, is: Why are these low-wage, retail and service economy jobs not just for high school kids and their grandparents? Why are these jobs the only jobs around?
Corporate profits are soaring. America’s corporations are raking in record profits, the highest since 1929. You’d think they could pay people:
From Think Progress:
“But this wealth hasn’t trickled much further down. Despite the fact that workers have been increasing their productivity — helping to drive those corporate profits — they haven’t seen much of a reward. Wages are growing at the slowest rate since the 1960s, only just barely outpacing inflation. They have actually declined since 2007, and the trend extends back even further: American workers have experienced a “lost decade” of wage growth, as their pay stayed flat or declined between 2000 and 2012, despite a 25 percent bump in productivity. On the whole, corporate profits have grown 20 times faster than workers’ incomes since 2008.
Hmm. Maybe they can’t afford to hire people because CEO pay is now more than three hundred times that of average worker, and more than 700 times that of a minimum wage worker.
For example, a Wal-Mart employee would have to work more than 1,300 hours to earn what Wal Mart CEO Michael Duke earns in one hour. How can these companies claim they can’t afford to create jobs? That they can’t afford to pay their employees a living wage. For that matter, how can they claim they can’t afford to provide their employees with health insurance?
The government spends $59 million on what we think of as “welfare,” such as food stamps and other assistance to poor families. It spends $92 million subsidizing the oil, sugar and liquor industries, giving fat tax breaks to multinational corporations, and other forms of corporate welfare and subsidies.
We’re offered the trickle-down defense, these are the job creators, better our government subsidize job creators than job needers. So, where are the jobs?
Well, creating jobs would not only cut into that CEO pay, but by cutting into profits, would affect earnings, which affects stock prices. Shareholders will make less money. But who benefits here? Investors. If you’re not invested in the market -and the poor and working class usually don’t happen to have stock portfolios lying in the drawer with their utility and medical bills–you’re out of luck.
So really, when we talk about wealth redistribution in this country, we should be talking about wealth is being redistributed upward–the one percent getting richer on the backs of low-wage workers.
“The legislation is opposed by business groups including the National Council of Chain Restaurants and the International Franchise Association. The National Restaurant Association has hundreds of members at the Capitol this week lobbying lawmakers on several issues, including opposition to a higher minimum wage.
Also opposed were conservative organizations including Heritage Action and Americans for Prosperity, which is backed by Charles and David Koch. The billionaire brothers are spending millions this year to unseat congressional Democrats, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and his allies are casting them as unfettered villains.”
But, these people are not nearly as stupid as they seem to want us to believe. That’s just part of their brilliant plan to keep the power of wealth increasingly concentrated within what we will soon be referring to as the 0.01 percent.