Some students felt it necessary to add that business owners can not afford to pay any increase in the minimum wage and we were off to "the races." Instead of cutting off the discussion, I allowed them to tell us all why the minimum wage should not be raised. And I waited. I heard all of the time worn arguments about small business owners not having the money to pay more to employees and how any increase would surely force business owners to close shop or lay off employees. And I waited some more. And when another student cited that an employee working full time at minimum wage could not afford much of anything and would undoubtedly be living in poverty, I waited some more. And when another student mentioned that food servers make even less than minimum wage (the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act wage is set at a lowly $2.13, with Florida's server wages established at $4.77 - per U.S. Dept. of Labor - 2013) I waited for even more. Was this enough to change minds about minimum wage? Of course not. And then I heard what I was waiting for! "Business owners and executives deserve to make as much money as they can!" And there it was. Sound familiar? Remember Social Darwinism? Better yet, remember Mitt Romney's 47% comment? Put those together and you have the notion that the working class is really a bunch of "slackers and takers" not deserving of what employers have.
But executives working for S&P 500 Index companies make 380 times what average workers are paid at those same companies. This number used to be 42 times worker wages in 1980. And has the huge gap in executive pay even remotely been taken into account while employees' standard of living decline? Nope. We see more companies granting pension and stock benefits to executives at an alarming rate while laid off employees are still scratching to get by! More importantly, collective corporate profits have been stockpiled in excess of $1 Trillion! So why the tremendous ideological support for corporations at the obvious cost to average Americans? Because political ideologies cloud peoples' judgment. I mean, who shouldn't be able to make as much money as possible? That's the prevalent talking point...it's downright UnAmerican to even think someone should not make as much money as they can. But where is the argument that American workers also deserve to make as much as they can...or at least as much as they are worth to an employer? As a student of American history, I think it is time for Americans to learn more about Theodore Roosevelt (R-NY) and how he found it to be in the Nation's interest to protect American workers from predatory business owners and executives. Roosevelt once publicly stated; "The Constitution was made for the people and not the people for the Constitution." I agree with T.R. This country is made up of working folks and they deserve a place at the table. We are not a Nation designed to benefit the few, the privileged.
As an aside, the GOP has filibustered the nomination of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense. But why? Is it because they truly hate the fact Hagel is a former Republican Senator? Is he a traitor to them? Is it possible that they are insulted that Obama nominated someone from "across the aisle?" Is it possible Republicans remain in denial that Obama won re-election and this is the only way to let the American Public know they still are relevant? Perhaps another T.R. quote is worth mentioning here too? " If the minority is as powerful as the majority there is no use of having political contests at all, for there is no use in having a majority." Is it possible the Republicans actually believe they will never win the White House again? Otherwise, you can believe they will reap what they sow if they ever do!