Another in a series of occasional posts by Mike Atherton about Democrats’ contributions to American life.
Democrats have a long history of supporting fair pay for workers. We should be ashamed that the Federal minimum wage stagnates at an astonishingly low $7.25 an hour. No family can live on that wage. How can the wealthiest country in the world and one that prides itself on being compassionate and just condemn whole segments of its citizens to institutional poverty?
The “Raise the Wage Act” of 2021 offers the most help to workers since the last time minimum wages were increased back in 2009. A few points in this Act need to be highlighted especially in light of the usual attacks on increased minimum wages. The Act would gradually raise the minimum wage from $9.50 per hour and eventually to $15 per hour. Note “gradually”. It would phase out the subminimum for tipped workers that at present stands at an immoral $2.13 per hour. The Act would tie wage increases to the median wage so that the income gap would narrow enabling people to buy health insurance and pay for food, rent, and other bills. Republicans disagree.
Without evidence, Republicans complain that a living wage decreases hiring. They dig up this outmoded complaint whenever minimum wages make news. Republicans once again fail to study any actual research into wages. Research shows there is no detectable decrease in job numbers for states with a high minimum wage.
Republicans want to hide the big fact that without a living wage society actually pays more. States that refuse to have a $15 dollar minimum wage must spend 42% more in Medicaid, CHIP(children’s insurance), cash assistance, and earned income tax credit than states with a living wage. So, we can pay in government assistance, which makes Republicans gag, or we can pay in living wages, again watch them gag. Republican elite oppose fair pay because by pushing the lowest possible wage for workers they think they are protecting corporate profits.
But many corporations support fair pay as seen by the wage increases at Amazon, Target, Walmart, Whole Foods, Best Buy, and Starbucks, to name a few we all know. This thinking echoes Henry Ford who paid his workers maximum wages because he knew that was the only way his workers could buy his cars. It is as true today as it was then: slave wages slow the economy, discourage people, and increase crime. In contrast, research shows in that a living wage improves infant health, reduces child abuse, and decreases teen pregnancies.
If you agree that workers deserve a living wage, that no one can live on $7.50 an hour, and that corporate America wants a healthy economy based on a living wage, then Thank a Democrat.
About the author:
Mike retired from 30 years of teaching philosophy after 20 years of teaching a variety of subjects from elementary to graduate school. Four years in the Peace Corps in Swaziland (now Eswatini), followed by marriage, first child, and PhD all at the University of Chicago. Moved to Southwest Pennsylvania where wife Cynthia Walter taught ecology and he taught philosophy while they raised two daughters. Moved to Dover in 2019 to be near their two grandsons in Maine. He has consistently found the Dems to be a group that publicly and privately follows their stated values: compassion, honesty, integrity, respect the dignity of all people, expanded freedom, responsible citizenship, promoting civil society, and protecting our environment.