At a U.S. Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Tuesday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie addressed the issue of minimum wage in America. It was not reported what he ate for lunch, but I quote the governor as follows:
"I'm tired of hearing about the minimum wage. I really am. I don't think there's a mother or a father sitting around the kitchen table tonight in America saying, 'You know, honey, if our son or daughter could just make a higher minimum wage, my God, all of our dreams would be realized.' Is that what parents aspire to for their children?"
The answers to your question, governor are no, that is not what parents aspire to for their children. And yes, that is what some parents are aspiring to, not only for their children, but for themselves.
Governor Christie went on to explain that he subscribes to the myth, misconception or convenient misrepresentation that minimum wage is for college kids working after school or summer jobs.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that about half of the people in the U.S. working for minimum wage are at least 25 years of age. There are about 4.5 million Americans raising families on less than $10.10 an hour-the proposed minimum wage in many states.
While we can all commiserate with the governor about the stress he must feel hearing people whine about the minimum wage, try imagining the stress of people living on it.
Why do we think it's patriotic to want to drop bombs in foreign countries, but it's un-American to want to help Americans struggling here at home?
In theory, Christie's right, of course. No one wants to earn as little as possible for a day's work, but higher paying jobs aren't always available to everyone. For many, a minimum wage job is the difference between eating and starving to death.
Until educational opportunities are equalized-which may be never-there are those among us who will need to work for the minimum wage to survive.
In 1890, to offset falling prices, steel magnate, Andrew Carnegie cut his work force, slashed wages and ordered longer working hours. All this, because he could.
For about $10 a week, a man could expect to work 12-hour days, seven days a week. The only holiday was July 4th.
We've come a long way since then, when men like Carnegie, J.P. Morgan and John Rockefeller were able to amass unimaginable fortunes in a country with no income tax, no anti-trust laws and no workers' rights.
Or have we?
Undeniably, workers here in America have it better than they did in 1890 and better than workers in many countries today. Still, we don't have the one-month vacation just about every worker in Europe gets from the getgo.
One of the arguments used against raising the minimum wage is that it will cut into the profits of the "job creators." Are you sick of hearing about job creators, too?
Things like rent, labor and materials are the main costs of doing business for most businesses. If your labor costs go up, your profits will be less. It's not hard to understand, but it's apparently very hard to digest.
Frank Lutz, a GOP operative coined the phrase, "job creator." His playbook states, "Don’t say, 'greedy, soulless multinational corporations who don’t give a damn about you." Say “job creators.”
You can read all of this in his book, “The Ten Rules for 2012: What Americans Really Want to Hear from Their Representatives.”
Sure, it's just meaningless sloganism, but that's what wins elections.
The major indexes of our stock markets are at or near all-time highs. Most indexes have more than doubled since President Obama took office.
American companies are sitting on unprecedented piles of cash. American productivity is up, yet wages remain flat. CEOs are rewarded generously, yet workers are hired frugally. Are the days of the robber barons over or have we just become more sophisticated?
Governor Christie may be sick of hearing about the minimum wage, but not as sick as so many who are of trying to live on it.
What you believe about the effect on the economy of an increase in the minimum wage depends on which study you look at and to which think tank you subscribe. It's hard to argue that an extra $50 a week in a worker's paycheck won't find it's way into the local economy.
Bonus: If you read yesterday's blog and were wondering what I found out when I called my doctor, it turns out that he's one of those anti-gun nuts, too. What can you do? Where else am I going to find a doctor whose girlfriend keeps the office supplied with fresh, home made brownies?
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