In a stunning (not really) filibuster, the GOP blocked a vote on a proposed increase in the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour. The increase was to be implemented over a 30-month period and would have affected an estimated 16.5 million people.
Once in place, the increase would have put a family of 3 above the federal poverty line for the first time since 1979.
First enacted in 1938, the Fair Labor Standards was an attempt guarantee fair wages, especially to those most severely hit by the Great Depression. Peak buying power for workers earning minimum wage was in 1968, when the minimum wage was $1.60 per hour.
I was working at a gas station near my house in 1968 and earning that $1.60 per hour, which seemed like a pretty good deal at the time. In 2014 dollars, that was about eleven bucks ($10.86) an hour, which allowed me to buy a pretty nice corsage for my senior prom date. Unfortunately, those orchids did not "do the trick" for me.
In case you're wondering, it was a Phillips 66 station, where FULL SERVICE gas was pumped for about thirty three ($0.33) cents a gallon.
One study cited by the GOP said that the proposed wage increase could cost the country as many as 500,000 jobs. It could only be 100,000 jobs or it could be no jobs, at all. It would depend on how many expendable minimum wage earners are employed in America.
Business owners rarely hire people they don't need and even a small, start-up company can afford an extra $100.00 per week in labor costs. If it can't, it wasn't going to survive, anyway.
A company like MacDonalds knows exactly how many people it needs dropping fries into grease at any given time, on any given day and at any given location. They're not in the business of hiring people to hang around listening to their ipods.
Most minimum wage earners are employed in the service industry and the logos on their checks include much of the Fortune 500. In a time when the earning power of lower and middle income workers is shrinking and American companies are making record profits and sitting on giant hordes of cash, it seems pretty disingenuous to say that corporate America can't afford to raise wages for its lowest paid workers.
That increase in labor costs would be less than last year's increase in pay to America's CEO's.
If American companies don't want to pay taxes or incur labor costs, they should apply for religious exemptions. They seem to own the political power and that seems to be the way we're going, anyway.
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