Wednesday, June 21, 2006

There's a lot of discussion of the minimum wage going on today, seeing as how the "up-or-down" Republicans blocked an up-or-down vote on an increase in the minimum wage.

The class warfare involved here is stunning, yes--but even more stunning from my point of view is the absolute, rank hypocrisy involved in the claims about how doing so would wreck business.

The Annual salary of a minimum wage worker who works 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, on average, at the current rate of $5.15 an hour comes to $10,753.20.

At the proposed rate of $7.25 an hour--blocked by Republicans--this average salary rises to $15,138.00.

Thus, the proposed increase in minimum full-time annual salary comes to a grand total of $4,384.80 for an average 40-hour-a-week worker on minimum wage.

According to the Department of Labor, the number of American workers receiving minimum wage or below in 2005 was 1.9 million.

So, according to these statistics, the maximum total annual cost to employers of increasing the minimum wage, assuming an average 40-hour work week would be $8,331,120,000.  Of course, the costs would probably be a lot less since it seems obvious that not all workers receiving less than the minimum wage right now would receive any increase in wages if their employers are already violating the law.  But we'll go with that for the time being.

So let's ask the question I always do: how long will that amount of money last for funding operations in Iraq? 27 days, 18 hours.  Less than a month--even February.

And meanwhile, what is the average annual cost of the estate tax repeal "compromise" proposed by Republicans? $28 billion--straight into the pockets of the inheritance-based super-rich, and your kids will be left to pay the difference.

My friends, this is what plutocracy looks like.  It stems not just from selfishness, but from an outlanding belief that the only reason there are still poor people around is because they don't have enough incentive to be rich--so we need to end assistance to the poor and give wealthy people tax advantages so more people will want to be rich.

It's social darwinism on crack.

I'm not going to go into why raising the minimum wage is not only the economically sound thing to do but is also the moral thing do do.  You know that already, and David Sirota can tell you that better than I can--and he's better looking anyway.  but you know what really sticks in my craw?  How Republican class-warfare conservatives can say that the minimum wage is unimportant, and that increasing it will wreck business--both statements within 5 minutes of each other.  Just examine David Sirota's smackdown of smarmy-looking liar John Stossel:

KUDLOW: This thing's back in Congress. A lot of states are either passing it or discussing it. How many people get the minimum wage across the country? This is a data from your own book.

Mr. STOSSEL: Three percent.

You hear that?  It's only 3 percent of the American workforce that gets the minimum wage anyway, so it's no big deal!

But at the same time:

But we don't have people washing windshields in gas station anymore because the minimum wage makes it foolish to hire a kid, to give an entry level worker a shot.

Or take Dick Armey

For years, Armey told the story of Charlie, a janitor at North Texas State when Armey taught there. According to Armey, Charlie was a retarded man who loved his job; then in 1977, the federal government raised the minimum wage, and Charlie was fired because the university couldn't afford to keep him on anymore. A month later, Armey saw Charlie in a grocery store with his wife and infant child, buying provisions with food stamps. "My heart's been broken about it ever since," Armey often lamented.

Unfortunately, no one else who worked at the university at the time had any memory of Charlie. What's more, the chancellor explained, janitors at North Texas are state employees, so the federal minimum wage would not have applied to any "Charlie."

What's the main point?  Well, either it's not a big deal, since according to the Deparment of Labor, minimum wage workers only make up 1.5% of the minimum salary workforce, OR it'll have an adverse effect on the economy by making labor prohibitively expensive.

And they can't have it both ways.  So here's what I propose to do to give the plutocrats no quarter on the "minimum wage increase wrecks the economy" bullshit:

make extra wages paid by businesses on account of the minimum-wage increase tax-deductible.

Kind of a win-win compromise, don't you think?  And it can't cost the government any more than an extra month in Iraq.

[Cross-posted on Daily Kos]

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