Case in point. How many Americans currently are employed at minimum wage? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a whopping 3.7 million workers out of a total of 138 million working Americans earn the minimum wage of $7.25/hour. So, no more than 2.6 % of American workers would be affected by increasing the minimum wage. More importantly, out of this group, millions of Americans work jobs that are exempt from the minimum wage! Huh? The Federal Minimum wage for waiters, waitresses and hotel/motel maids is not the lofty and luxurious $7.25 pro-business advocates claim. It is actually a paltry $2.13 per hour! How many of you tip the maid when leaving your hotel daily? Yet, wait staff are paid tips (that vary by every customer on every meal), and their employers collect set prices and never have their wage tied directly to the whims of a consuming (and fickle) public. So why the hysteria about rising costs of goods and services if the minimum wage is raised if so few Americans currently earn the minimum? Because any effort to pinch employers' profits is seen as Anti-American and viewed instead as a "socialist" attempt to improve the economic lives of folks "deserving" such low pay. Ironically, these pro-business folks are also the same Anti-Immigration advocates that claim immigrants take good jobs from unemployed Americans (meaning White Americans). Except, could those that have ceased looking for employment be tied to the notion that work requires clothes, transportation and perhaps child care, and minimum wage can't begin to cover these real expenses? And what about the fact that prior to ObamaCare, minimum wage workers had no access to employer provided health insurance, so their health needs were routinely paid for by the rest of US? All to ensure profits for big businesses like McDonalds and WalMart? Some American dream huh? Name one person that enjoys being poor or wishes their family could always be poor!
Housing costs have risen considerably since the last time the minimum wage was raised (2009). Average rent for a place to live in 2009 was $780/month and now is over $1,045/month. But who needs to worry about a roof over their heads, right? Gas in 2009 averaged $2.61/gallon and today hovers around $3.91/gallon (average over all of 2013). But the poor can't afford a car anyway, so who cares? Bread went from $1.77 a loaf to $1.88, eggs from $1.34 to $1.54 and toilet paper from $3.49 to $3.96, just to name a few necessary commodities. All the while the minimum wage earning poor can afford less and less, corporate employers and their bosses are making more and more. Just take a look at the Dow Jones Average. In 2009 it was 9,131 and today, Dec. 15, 2013, it is 15,755 (enough said).
'Tis the season to stop listening to the pro-business anti-labor factions and start realizing that the American Dream is about moving ahead in life, not being pushed further and further behind while relying on the faux generosity of big business. It's time to review what it will take for all Americans to have a threshold of economic security, and its time to tell the pro-business pundits and ideologues that they have had their way for far too long. It's time to end the American nightmare many working poor face daily. As Republican President Theodore Roosevelt once said; "Probably the greatest harm done by vast wealth is the harm that we of modest means do ourselves when we let the vices of envy and hatred enter deep into our natures." Envy and hatred indeed! Have a great week!