Saturday, July 01, 2006

Screwing the working man

The Republican-led Congress has once again refused to increase the Federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour. So while GOP leaders argue to exempt the ultra-rich from the estate tax and to cut their income taxes, they continue to screw the nation's working men and women.

The Federal minimum wage, which now has less buying power than in the 1950s, has not been increased in nine years. Boosting the minimum wage, of course, would also put needed upward pressure on the wages of other working-class people who earn less than $10 hourly and who struggle to keep up with the rising cost of living.

The minimum wage has been increased above the Federal level in 21 states. Recent studies in several states have debunked the standard argument raised by opponents of an increase that an hourly wage hike has a negative impact on job opportunities.

The opponents also argue that, rather than boosting the minimum wage, the best way to help low-paid, unskilled workers is to train them to take on skilled jobs that pay higher wages. Considering the rising number of plant shutdowns and corporate mergers, which have destroyed the jobs of countless skilled workers, job-training seems like a very limited means of helping those earning no more than the minimum wage--except, perhaps, in those rare regions where there is a worker shortage.

There is a tremendous irony that millions of working-class people don't know who their friends are and who continue to vote for the Republicans to screw them. There are enough of them to have elected President George W. Bush twice and to have voted in Republican majorities in Congress. They are apparently swayed by such symbolic issues as flag-burning and gay marriage and the synthetic argument that the Democrats are weak on defense and the war on terrorism.

It should not go unnoticed that on June 13 the members of the Republican-ruled House of Representatives received a $3,000 annual pay raise.

9 Comments:

Anonymous joared said...

As usual, your arguments are very cogent, and the facts speak for themselves. I am quite at a loss to understand the votes of working-class people who put this administration into office.

Equally puzzling to me is how the Republican-ruled House of Representatives can determine they need a pay raise, then give themselves one while denying workers the same consideration.

Something is wrong with this picture!

Saturday, July 01, 2006 10:36:00 PM  
Blogger Sigrid Ann said...

To: Mr. Reichek
From: Sigrid Ann Johncock

Do you have relatives in the Kalamazoo, Michigan area? I knew a "Sam" Reichek (first name is a nickname and I forget his given name) who worked at Upjohn. Upjohn became Pharmacia and then Pfizer within the past ten years. Wondered what you thought about the pharmaceutical industry these days. I remember learning about anti-trust laws in grade school. Must be they no longer exist. Thanks.

Sunday, July 02, 2006 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger Sigrid Ann said...

To: Mr. Reichek
From: Sigrid Ann Johncock

Do you have relatives in the Kalamazoo, Michigan area? I knew a "Sam" Reichek (first name is a nickname and I forget his given name) who worked at Upjohn. Upjohn became Pharmacia and then Pfizer within the past ten years. Wondered what you thought about the pharmaceutical industry these days. I remember learning about anti-trust laws in grade school. Must be they no longer exist. Thanks.

Sunday, July 02, 2006 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger saz said...

Sad but true that people no longer vote in their own self interests. Seems to me raising the min. wage would give people more buying power and would stimulate the economy as well - something like the 50's when vets came back from the war and had vet loans etc that helped them create a vibrant middle class and at the same time grow the entire wealth of this country. As always Mort, you make us think!

Sunday, July 02, 2006 12:29:00 PM  
Blogger Hoots said...

Your post is on target. I am also mystified why so many people continue to support politicians who clearly do not have their interests at heart, particularly those who by rights should be Democrats.

Bill Clinton may have been a morally retrograde ingrate but I will always remember two things about his administration.

First, although it failed, he (together with Hilary) had the gumption to address America's broken health care system.

And second, it was during his watch that it became possible to take profits from the sale of a principle place of residence without losing a chunk to capital gaines tax, and the seller had the option not to be bound into another mortgage if he chose not to do so.

It may not be a bad trend, however, to have individual states with minimum wage requirements. The issue might be better managed regionally than nationally due to variations in costs of living from place to place.

(And thanks for visiting my blog.)

Sunday, July 02, 2006 2:00:00 PM  
Blogger Treifalicious said...

What's even worse, is that when I was working in political polling it was always people who make under $35,000 a year who were most in favor of cutting taxes for people makeing over $100,000 or more when these issues were to be put to a referendum.

It has been said that these people believe they will make it to the ranks of the upper middle class and affluent, but these days, especially, considering what it takes to get those jobs, these people have been masterfully deluded. Especially if they are not fresh out of college or something.

Sunday, July 02, 2006 10:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Increasing minimum wages will just create additional inflational pressures.This will force the Fed. to raise interest rates again,which will hurt everyone---especially the working man.

Monday, July 03, 2006 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger Norma said...

I don't think I'd call these folks "working-class." They are teens learning their first job responsibilities, moms working part time shifts, and immigrants hoping to move up the ladder quickly to better jobs as they learn English. They are about 1% of the labor force, if it is that. The poor are always hurt when this wage is increased, because small outfits have to drop someone to account for the mandated increase. And regardless of what the left wants us to believe about huge corporations sticking it to the little guy, a lot of the little guys are small mom and pop stores (I show a number of them on my blog today, although that's not my intention) who will either have to cut staff, or raise prices in their neighborhood stores and restaurants. All the signs I see at fast food restaurant chains around here are paying about $7.50 an hour. Undocumented nannies get about $15-$20 an hour.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006 12:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Terri said...

I'm catching up with some of your past entries and this one certainly impressed me. I'd wanted to blog on this topic, but you covered everything I would have said. Very succinctly. I think it's pitiful that Congress refused to raise the minimum wage.
And I'm beyond baffled at how the people who could use it the most voted for this Administration, not once, but twice. Which proves to me that I'll never figure out human nature. I guess their "moral" issues mean more to them than all the other majors issues that are currently plaguing our country.

Friday, July 07, 2006 5:07:00 PM  

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