Who can live comfortably on minimum wage or what is defined as the “lowest” amount that an employer can legally pay their employee per hour of labor? Although minimum wage can vary from state to state, currently the Federal minimum wage is set at $7.25, a bit of a squeeze to say the least to those who are struggling just to keep afloat. I mean really, why we are debating whether to increase the minimum wage by pennies ($2-3), which pales in comparison to soaring corporate profits and stock prices that are setting record returns. Meanwhile worker wages have remained stagnant: “wages have risen so slowly over the last several years that even middle class Americans have barely kept up with historically low rates of inflation. Average weekly earnings of workers on payrolls, measured in inflation-adjusted dollars, have edged up a scant 0.3 percent between 2008-2014” (Factcheck, 2014). More than 88 percent of those who would benefit from raising the federal minimum wage are working adults, and 55 percent are working women (US Dept. of Labor).
On the other hand, “ after taxes, corporate profits were running at an annual rate of more than $1.9 trillion in the January-March quarter of 2014. That is the highest on record — and an increase of 184 percent from the recession-wracked fourth quarter of 2008, just before the start of President Obama’s tenure. Corporate stocks also have been rising. As of the close of the market in July of 2014, the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index was 145 percent higher than it was when President Obama first took office. Other market indicators also have soared, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 114 percent and the NASDAQ Composite index had more than tripled, rising by 209 percent” (Factcheck.org, July 2014).
With consistent stats like those, increasing the minimum wage should be a “no” brainer. Furthermore, if it is acceptable for consumer and industry prices to gradually increase, then isn’t it also reasonable to conclude that minimum wage align with those increases (as do “some states who raised the minimum rage)? Sadly current statistics prove just the opposite and as a consequence many hard working “adult” Americans who make $7.25 often find themselves caught in a perpetual state of despair that forces them to depend on public assistance such as welfare, Medicaid and/or housing just to make ends meet. In turn they are unfairly miss-labeled as the offenders, accused of “draining the system”. They become the object of scorn and ridicule, branded as lazy, and living off the taxpayer dollars that they in fact pay into. The naysayers would lead one astray by claiming that most public assistance recipients are “getting over” on the system. I would say to them, while that “may” be true for a selected few; the misdeeds of those few should not outweigh the legitimate needs of the majority. Besides on the other end of the spectrum, there are some who hide their money in off shore accounts to evade taxes, or hire undocumented workers in order to acquire cheap labor or refuse to uphold workers rights by unionizing. They in turn considered the “object of praise” because they are job creators or come from old new/money or profess to have pulled themselves up by the straps of their heals with “NO” assistance from anyone. They preach “the American dream”, but in reality theirs no guidance, or viable systematic means of obtaining it without upfront dollars or investors.
Food for thought: Most lawmakers run for office under the premise of “creating jobs” but in reality how many of them actually make that a priority when elected. Since when is it acceptable for (a fraction of) Congress to shutdown the Federal government or be content with an approval rate below 20? How can companies justify spending millions on lobbyist, campaign contributions, ridiculously large corporate bonuses, but oppose raising the minimum rage? Since when did the phrase “to whom much is given, much is required” become the exception and not the rule or a socialist view. Opponents of increasing the minimum wage claim many business will be forced to layoff employees- Is this an accurate assessment since companies have been "realigning" for centuries- a process that is common among business typhoons like former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney?
I commend those states, like California ($9), Oregon ($9.32), Washington ($9.10) who have raised the minimum at or above $2, but that should only be a start. If we are serious about reducing public assistance and strengthening our economy, so that everyone benefits then raising the minimum wage should be “part” of the solution.