Monday, January 22, 2007

More Money For Poor People

Fact: There are many people in the United States who work full time and still live below the poverty line.

Democrats want to increase the federally mandated minimum wage to help these people compete, if not with middle class America, at least with basic standards of decency. Rich white men argue that small businesses will be negatively impacted and that this is a reason to not increase the minimum wage at all. Now, I will concede that certainly there will be a number greater than zero of businesses that will fail instead of succeed because of increased payroll obligations. What does that say about those businesses? Nevermind - I'm not an economist. But does that make it a reason not to raise the minimum wage? I don't think so.
The bills would raise the wage floor in three steps. It would go to $5.85 an hour 60 days after signed into law by the president, to $6.55 an hour a year later, and to $7.25 an hour a year after that.
These are increases of roughly 13.5%, 12% and 10.5% at each step. I computed these percentages myself because I've never heard them reported and I've never heard quantitative discussions about what increase in overhead costs would be too high and which would be manageable. What I did hear this weekend were rich, white men saying thinks like, "I worked hard to get where I am and why should these people get things handed to them."

Now I admit, when I think about my high school experience, I am happy that I have a good job and that the kids that didn't work as hard as I now ask the proverbial, "would you like fries with that?" But deny them a living wage? No. I am not worried about minimum wage employees getting richer than me, like some people apparently are.

We should remember that there are two options here. If we can agree, at least on some philosophical level, that people who work full time shouldn't be poor, then if we aren't going to give them more money, we could also try taking less money from them. This is the option that most rich, white men are supporting - tax cuts for the lowest tax brackets.

Oh wait, no they aren't. In fact, they are supporting just the opposite: tax cuts for the highest tax brackets.
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