Minimum Wage Fuels Poverty
February 26, 2014
By: Nancy Thorner and Bonnie O’Neil
Minimum wage has become a contentious political issue, even though it has little to do with a living wage. Workers’ salaries are decided by employers whose decisions are based upon the worth that employee and job is to the company. A business must be run to make a profit, for the sake of every employee and owner whose lives are dependent upon that viability. An overreaching federal government’s tampering with private enterprise can do more overall harm than good.
Nevertheless, Democrats plan to tap into what they see as one more opportunity to use class warfare as a political tool. Inserting buzz words such as “inequality” and “social justice” and using minimum wage as a plank in their populist economic platform is one more easy way to gain votes in the November election.
President Obama and Democrat candidates hope their rhetoric will resonate and that the public will not discover a prevailing fact that should make a difference in the minds of the majority. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (the “government’s own bean counter) Obamacare will result in the loss of two-to two-and-a-half million jobs in the years ahead, and another CBO report notes President Obama’s proposed minimum wage hike would result in another half-million lost jobs.
The Democratic ploy in their election-year playbook, to hold Republicans hostage to raising the minimum wage, can be blamed on President Bush. He issued an executive order raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour for future federal contractors.
Minimum wage continues to be a priority for President Obama. Recently Obama used his weekly address (Saturday, Feb. 22), to cajole Congress into approving a raise in the federal minimum wage that now stands at $7.25 per house, further noting that “while the economy was beginning to recover from the last recession, wages have barely ticked upwards over the past four years.”
According to Obama: Raising Americans’ wages isn’t just a good deed; it’s good business and good for our economy. It helps reduce turnover, it boosts productivity, and it gives folks some more money to spend at local businesses.
A day before this weekend’s address of Friday, Feb. 21, President Obama pitched the same message at a meeting with members of the Democratic Governors Association in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, at which Obama admitted that higher pay is not only “good policy, it also happens to be “good politics.” =
Meanwhile, John Boehner, Republican Speaker of the House, believes it’s a job killer. Boehner once said that he would rather commit suicide than vote for a “clean” increase.
The President is correct in saying that an overwhelming majority of the American people favors minimum wage hikes. A Quinnipiac poll (January 8th), indicated voters support raising the minimum wage, but are split on the amount. Despite this apparent support for an increase, half of the voters believe raising the minimum wage would cause businesses to cut jobs.
One cannot help but wonder what could produce this seemingly mixed result. One explanation is that the American people tend to be compassionate in nature when suffering is perceived, and believe it is not right for a person to work full time and then have to raise their family in poverty.
At the same time there is a dichotomy over concerns expressed for minimum wage workers and what issues Americans care most about. In a recent Gallop poll conducted on what Americans rate as this country’s biggest problem, raising the minimum wage didn’t make the Top 10. Unemployment and jobs was rated #1, while Poverty came in at #10.
This all suggest that the Quinnipiac poll might have produced different results had the questions been asked in a different sequence or if those questioned had been privy to facts which dispute any suggested benefits accrued by increasing the minimum wage for low income workers. Certainly most people would prefer some income rather than none, and how can we justify raising the minimum wage if evidence indicates it would increase the jobless rate in America.
Part 2: FDR and the Minimum Wage; 27 years ago the New York Times got it right; President Johnson’s War on Income Equality and over-the-board raises; and why Minimum Wage hikes make all we buy more expensive.