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.