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Missouri's Republican Senate candidates may not know what the minimum wage is, but they're in agreement on one thing: It shouldn't be raised. No, whatever the minimum wage is, it's plenty as far as Rep. Todd Akin, businessman John Brunner, and former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman are concerned.

The minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, which means $15,080 for a year of full-time work, just under the poverty threshold for a family of two. Of course, these candidates for United States Senate don't know that. Asked during a radio debate what the minimum wage is and if they'd support increasing it, all three showed just how little they know.

Steelman, the only candidate to offer a specific guess for the minimum wage—getting it wrong at $7.50—offered a slightly garbled version of a classic argument against raising the minimum, that "young people sometimes can't find jobs because they're taken by other people and they don't pay a lower wage ... are unable to pay a lower wage because of the minimum wage so that squeezes jobs out." Akin, too, claimed that raising the minimum wage would cost teenagers the chance to get experience at the low pay they are, according to him, worth.

The line that teenagers won't be able to get jobs is a multipurpose argument that raising the minimum wage will lead to fewer jobs and that teenagers working part-time jobs are the only people making minimum wage anyway. But in fact, this is wrong on both counts: "a majority of minimum wage earners are adults working many hours and living in low-income households," and studies show "that an increase in the minimum wage has a small—and even positive—impact on employment."

That set of myths wasn't Akin's only objection to raising the minimum wage, though. He actually opposes its existence altogether, saying it's "Just another example of a wrong thing that the government does. I don't think the government should be setting the prices or wages on different things, I don't think that's the function of the government."

As for the extremely wealthy Brunner, he didn't know what the minimum wage is and, clearly taken aback at being asked about something as esoteric as how much businesses must legally pay their workers, and gave a nonsensical, buzzword-laden answer about how his business had always paid more than the minimum wage. Which is ... not at all helpful for everyone who doesn't work for him.

Missouri Republicans sure face a fantastic set of choices.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 01:32 PM PDT.

Also republished by Kansas City Kossaks and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Not surprising that well-off pols divorced (24+ / 0-)

    from the scramble of the job market don't know or care about the minimum wage.

    What's maddening is the number of minimum wage workers who can be convinced to support these cretins.

    Cheering their own starvation.

    Fair's fair. I don't vote in your church; don't go preaching in my government New video: "The Future Just Ain't What It Used to Be"

    by Crashing Vor on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 01:37:07 PM PDT

  •  This is just reminds me of what I've always said (7+ / 0-)

    Anyone who isn't rich and votes Republican is either not paying attention, brainwashed, or just plain ignorant.

    Otherwise, why would a middle class or poor person vote against their own interests?  It would seem the majority are simply mislead into doing so. (Thanks to Fox et al.)

    When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross. - Sinclair Lewis

    by BelloBass on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 02:40:41 PM PDT

  •  Similar to Qt of Milk or Gallon of Gas Price (5+ / 0-)

    Knowing the modern GOP who ever can't answer any of those is their candidate.

    Response: If you "got it" you wouldn't be a republican

    by JML9999 on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 09:03:28 AM PDT

  •  "I don't know what it is, but I'm agin' it!!" (9+ / 0-)

    which is not surprising.

    God be with you, Occupiers. God IS with you.

    by Hohenzollern on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 09:03:42 AM PDT

  •  Life long Missourian here (12+ / 0-)

    I am embarrassed.  This is the state government we have to deal with.  Don't let me get started on Blunt trauma.

  •  It the minimum wage rose (11+ / 0-)

    at same pace as exec salary since 1990, it would be over $22 / hour...

    "Speak out, judge fairly, and defend the rights of oppressed and needy people." Proverbs 31:9

    by zdefender on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 09:07:59 AM PDT

  •  That's a tough one (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    commonmass, ManhattanMan, Odysseus

    I work in a warehouse that has an assembly line in it.

    My employer recently bought some a machine that eliminated some minimum wage jobs.

    But on the other hand, as we make more products; that will create some higher-paying jobs (and some overtime for me) and I am pretty sure that the people that made the machine made more than minimum wage.

  •  Again, you-all NEED to STOP BEING SO NICE!! (11+ / 0-)

    These "politicians" don't know what the minimum wage is because they are stupid, hateful motherfuckers.

    Nothing less.


    #occupywallstreet: Although I know the rhythm you'd prefer me dancing to, I'll turn my revolt into style.

    by xxdr zombiexx on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 09:08:22 AM PDT

  •  There are no longer any basic standards (5+ / 0-)

    of decency, apparently. The GOP has become totally unhinged and for the most part, our media clings to the fiction that these people's positions are legitimate.

    Just once I'd love to see some interviewer call them out. What would be the harm in someone publicly suggesting that people who don't know what the minimum wage is (or how many justices on the Supreme Court) don't have any business running for office and are unqualified? But no one will. Hear no evil...

    Santorum: Man on Dog; Romney: Dog on Car. Ren and Stimpy: Dog on Cat

    by commonmass on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 09:09:52 AM PDT

  •  Santorum Country.....and he's from Pennsylvania... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xxdr zombiexx

    go figger.

  •  I'm curious, who of these 3 is currently leading? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xxdr zombiexx, apimomfan2

    I haven't paid too much attention to the primary race in MO. I knew Steelman was supposed to be the "moderate" of the bunch (highly subjective of course) and Akin was the hard-right dumbshit. I have no idea who this Brunner is; I guess he's another rich asshole who thinks he deserves a Senate seat because he's got the money for it. He and Mitt should get along famously.

  •  Some pols make me so proud I'm from (0+ / 0-)

    Missouri!  :-(

  •  All bow down (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    roadbear, happymisanthropy

    Before the Omnipotent God, Market! Even governments--even democratic governments-- must obey its every whim and command.

    At least, that's what those "why should we have to consider instituting a minimum wage" folks seem to believe.....

  •  They would know what minimum wage is if that's (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    what their pay in Senate was going to be.  (Hey ... that's not a bad idea?!)

    "Four more years!" (Obama Unencombered - The Sequel)

    by jwinIL14 on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 09:23:46 AM PDT

  •  hmmmm.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Donkey Hotey, happymisanthropy

    Try living (I don't mean subsisting) on the minimum wage.  

    I think, therefore I am........................... Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose AKA Engine Nighthawk - don't even ask!

    by Lilyvt on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 09:31:36 AM PDT

  •  I hate the whole damn argument (5+ / 0-)

    There's a beloved local burger chain here in Seattle that has been around for 60 or so years.  Not only have they always paid a couple of bucks over the minimum wage (and WA has one of, if not the, highest minimum wage in the country), if an employee works over 24 hours a week they get healthcare and money towards college.  This isn't a fancy $7 burger joint, either - its prices compare favorably to McDonald's.  

    Yes, a large number of their employees are teenagers...but paying more gives them better staff retention and a selection of employees at hiring time.  It's clearly a more efficient business model.

    I worked there when I was 16, in the early 80's.  Even then they paid over $5/hr--enough to get my first car in a few months.  :-)

    I like lemurs -6.50, -4.82

    by roadbear on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 09:36:49 AM PDT

  •  Should we raise the minimum wage? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I don't know.

    The reality is that when the minimum wage is raised, some potential jobs are eliminated.  For modest raises in the minimum wage, this effect seems small although  I've never seen good data on the magnitude of this effect, which is not surprising given the number of potential confounding variables.

    What we are saying in part by having a minimum wage is that we are better off as a society without jobs that don't pay enough to live on.  This only makes sense where we have an adequate social safety net.  To the extent we don't that is not an argument against the minimum wage but an argument for improving the safety net.  It may be an argument against raising the minimum wage without improving the safety net.  However, it is important to keep in mind that it may be easier and more beneficial to raise the minimum wage.

    The final question is how should we think about jobs we want eliminated?  The logical answer is that it should be based on the poverty level (we don't want jobs which still leave people poor).  

    Then the question is poverty level for whom?  If you use the poverty level for one person you get a minimum wage of $5.45.  For two people you get $7.35.  For one half the poverty level for a family of 4 (assuming two working adults), you get $5.55.  On the other hand, two full time working adults may not be a reasonable assumption.  If you assume one full time and one half time, you get a minimum wage of about $7.45.  

    This suggests to me that there should be an increase, but it should be a small one: to about $7.75 to take account of the fact that increases are periodic.

    •  Another problem with raising the minimum wage (0+ / 0-)

      is that you've now have people who worked to get above minimum wage now making minimum wage. And like it or not, that leads to resentment among workers.

      So unless everyones' wages are raised, you're just ensuring more people make the minimum wage.

      Money doesn't talk it swears.

      by Coss on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 10:17:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  no, it isn't a problem. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        again, econ. 101. if employers are hiring to meet demand, they also want to retain those currently in their employ. they will do this by raising the pay of those currently earning what becomes the new minimum wage. it is far cheaper to retain trained employees, than it is to hire and train new people.

        these are fundamental facts of economics. i suggest all of you go read a basic economics textbook, before making any more ignorance based comments.

        •  You have never run a business. (0+ / 0-)

          Why would I raise a guy's wages, if he has already shown that he will work for a low wage?

          The only thing that would make me raise wages would be if he threatened to quit.

          This is unlikely.If he threatens to quit, he takes a huge risk because if I fire him he loses all income, plus the firm-specific knowledge he has spent time building.

          This is part of game theory which you will learn when you take "Econ 201".

          In the meantime, I will give you a handy tip on how to tell which parts of Econ 101 are Bullsh-t. If the graph has no numbers on the axis, it is Bullsh-t.

          Now, armed with that knowledge, go learn about the Real World Works...

      •  I would gladly work for... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ...minimum wage. IF:

        - I got free healthcare
        - The inner-city public schools were good enough that I didn't need to move to the suburbs
        - I was guaranteed that as long as I worked hard, the job would not be outsourced
        - There was a strong mass transit system that took me to my job
        - If I got hurt on the job, there was a safety net that insured my family wouldn't lose income.
        - The wages were tax-free.
        - i worked exactly 40 hours/week -- leaving me time to spend with my family or to make more (non-minimum wage) money on the side.

    •  your arguments are tried, and wrong. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      these are the same standard arguments the republicans have been using, since the minimum wage was first enacted into law. and they cart them out, every time raising the minimum wage, at either the federal or state level, is discussed. and every time they are proven wrong;

      simply put, employers will hire people that they need, to meet demand, regardless of what the minimum wage is. historically, raising the minimum wage has a nearly zero impact on hiring, whether adults or teens, because of the basic laws of economics.

      employers don't hire just because, regardless of what the minimum wage is or isn't. they don't acquire new plant/eqpt., just because. they do both of these things when demand exceeds their ability to supply the market, with the employees/plant/eqpt. they currently have.

      see: economics 101

      •  My arguments lead to raising the minimum wage (0+ / 0-)

        Not sure why you think that is wrong.

        Your statements are only partially true.  That is employers hire when hiring will be profitable.   They do not expand simply when demand exceeds their ability to supply the market, but only when they can also meet the new demand profitably.

        Raising the minimum wage has limited effects on overall demand and therefore neither increases demand nor pricing power for most employers.    

        It does increase costs and reduces profits.   More importantly, it will cause cost to exceed marginal product for some workers who will therefore not be hired.  

        As indicated, therefore there will be a negative effect on hiring/jobs.  To conclude otherwise, you would have to conclude that low wage labor is one of those rare goods where there is higher demand at higher prices.
        No one has seriously suggested that and, I doubt, on reflection, that you would either.

        As I also indicated I think the effect is small for small increases in the minimum wage.  (Your arguments would mean that you could set the minimum wage arbitrarily high; I think, upon review, you will realize that doesn't work).

        Finally, I concluded, if you read to the end of my comment, that the minimum wage should be modestly increased. from $7.25 to $7.75.  I rather doubt many conservatives would be agreeing.

        I am unsure what you are advocating.

  •  The minimum wage here in Australia... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Donkey Hotey, Dem Beans, apimomfan2

    is currently $15.51 AUD per hour, and the current exchange rate is $1 AUD = $1.0586 USD. And if the US is worried about teens not being able to get jobs then they could do like we do here, and add in scales for "junior workers." Right now, this is how the minimum wage scales here for workers under 21:

    Under 16 years of age  $5.71
    At 16 years of age   $7.34
    At 17 years of age   $8.96
    At 18 years of age   $10.59
    At 19 years of age   $12.80
    At 20 years of age   $15.15.
    My sixteen year old daughter had no problem finding her first job here, making approximately $10 AUD an hour.

    And the per capita gross domestic product here exceeds that of the US.

    And of course we have publicly funded universal healthcare; lower Federal income taxe rates on all incomes up to about $220,000; and no state income tax (instead there is a payroll tax on the wages outlay of employers).


    -7.88 -8,77 Just a wine sipping, brie eating, $6 coffee drinking, Prius driving, over educated, liberal, white, activist, male New Englander for Barack Obama.

    by EquationDoc on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 09:48:45 AM PDT

  •  useful to label KMOX a limbaugh station (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dem Beans

    this is one of those limbaugh megastations that would not last if it wasn't piggybacking the community cred of the local sports events it broadcasts.

    and those sports teams - missouri tigers, st louis blues and cardinals- should feel pressure to find alternatives.

    many of these megastations were doing sports before limbaugh and RWTR monopoly moved in 20 yrs ago and eventually dragged them into being part of a gigantic racist misogynistic megaphone for the 1% that likely has a big part in missouri politics while functioning as a 24/7 ad for GOP and RW  objectives.

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and partisan lying by broadcasting sports on Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 10:02:11 AM PDT

  •  Perhaps I'm overthinking this (0+ / 0-)

    but without a minimum wage (along with other labor laws) don't you basically just have legalized slavery?

    Couldn't you just get a worker to sign a contract to agree to work for you in exchange for room and board?

    Money doesn't talk it swears.

    by Coss on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 10:12:52 AM PDT

    •  No (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      1.  You have freedom to switch between jobs which may provide the ability to improve your wages.

      2.  Your employer does not have the total control over your life that was the case of, for example, slaves in the pre-Civil War south.

      3.  You may have the ability to leave the labor force depending on the extent of the social safety net and the amount you are being paid.  (Which, in a non-minimum wage world, might be less.)

  •  and this is surprising why, exactly? (3+ / 0-)

    the republican party has undergone a complete transformation, into the 21st century version of the "Know-Nothing" party, of 19th century fame and stupidity. it's as though they've searched the nation's intellectual ghettos, to find the most ignorant people they can, and had them run for office under the party banner.

    what's more troubling is that neither their constituents, nor the MSM, ever really calls them on it. they should be ragged on their lack of just basic knowledge, constantly, in public, until they either drop out, or demonstrate at least an acceptable basic command of what used to be considered common knowledge about this country.

  •  I did live on 75 cents... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...more than the current minimum wage. From 2004 to 2009.

    Factor in the cost of health and dental insurance for a family of three, which was about $400 a month, and that doesn't leave much.

    Oh, get another job, the Republicans say, if you are not happy with your current job, or not making enough money to live on? And I must be currently employed before another company will consider me for employment?

    Good luck with that. The last company I worked at and made $8 per hour had an attendance policy so strict that any absence or late arrival for any reason was punished. Flat tire...stuck in traffic due to an accident...snowy or icy roads...stay home to take care of kid who was sick...dead's appointment...funeral for family member...passed out at work and had to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance (happened to a lady who collapsed and fell out of her chair due to a blood clot in her lungs) name it, you were punished. One point for each occurrence.  Max out at three points in a given timeframe and you were fired (this was during your 6 month "probation" period when you were actually employed through a temp employment agency. You were given a max of 5 points once you were officially hired by the company...oh, and at the company's discretion they didn't have to hire you after 6 months...they could keep you in the probationary period indefinitely and you could do nothing about it. And don't get me started on those few employees who were the favorites of management, who could miss 5 and 6 days a month and, well, "technically" not really have 5 or 6 points).

    Got a doctor's appointment for a medical illness? You still got a point for missing work and still were required to bring a doctor's excuse to prove you were actually at the doctor and not somewhere else. Swear to God.  And during one of our team meetings when people voiced concerns about the attendance policy and how it affected times when we needed to care for, or spend time with, our families, a supervisor actually told us that our jobs were more important than our families.

    Half a point fell off every two week pay period. Generally, that is. Get hit with a point during the week in which you were paid, and you'd have to wait until the NEXT pay period for half of it to roll off.'s a little difficult to look for another job when you have to manage the stupid "points" you got for being absent or late and had to balance the need for calling in sick to go on a job interview while saving some of those points for times you'd be sick.

    Sure, I could use PT for job interviews, but I can't ask a prospective employer to schedule an interview 2 weeks from the day he called me simply because in my current job I must turn in my PT request 2 weeks in advance.

    Oh, and if I missed a day for being sick, I didn't have the option of not getting paid for it. If I had any PT, the company deducted that time to replace the hours I missed.

    So I call in sick a couple of days in a month to go on job interviews, have to take PT time, it's unexcused, and suddenly I'm flirting with losing my job. I was hired in Feb. and my 6 month probation period was up in August. Given the strict nature of the attendance policy, that's not a lot of time to look for another job while keeping your current job, as the Republicans would suggest.  Republicans are such assholes.

    •  The place I just quit (0+ / 0-)

      Has a similar attendance policy.  You're allowed five "occurrences" in a rolling 12 month period.  It doesn't matter what the reason you miss is, or if you had PTO to cover it, you still get the point.  If you are late it is half a point.  Once you hit the five, you you are put on a 90 day probation, and if you miss or are late for any reason, you are fired on the spot.  Hooray for right to work states.

      by ThatPoshGirl on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 11:29:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  They are Santorum wannabes. Dimwitted & bigotted.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dem Beans, apimomfan2

    ...conservative tea-party ideologues who hate women and children...and poor people. I live here and am so embarrassed and outraged by the "leaders" of the State who are ruining MO. Education sucks big time here, and the idiot population is multiplying quickly.

    "Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind."- Henry James

    by Canaryinthecoalmine on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 10:54:45 AM PDT

  •  This graphic shows hours necessary to pay rent... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Number of hours at Min Wage to pay rent

    From the Nat'l Low Income Housing Coalition

    Rise Up! Still not thy voice - Slack not thy hand!

    by Arkieboy on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 11:10:58 AM PDT

  •  The clown show continues. Unbelievable is all (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I can say.  

  •  Germany (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I guess, as Americans, we are too proud to take lead from other countries.  I mean, look at Germany.  Largest economy in Europe, and the world's second largest exporter, and they pay a living wage, require employer's to provide health care, mandatory 30 days paid vacation, something like 30 mandatory public holidays, etc. Oh yeah, and a 35 hour work week.  Damn Socialists.

    by ThatPoshGirl on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 11:38:19 AM PDT

  •  The Sad Fact Is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    One of these morons will likely be the next Senator for my state.  McCaskill is getting hit hard by the anti-Obama crowd and she's doing little to combat that.  The right, with Pat Boone's help (yes, Pat freakin' Boone!), are spreading lies about the Affordable Care Act and no one, certainly not Claire McCaskill, is trying to combat it.  Terrible approval ratings coupled with Missouri's continuing trend toward deep, dark red will probably doom us to having one of these idiots serving along side the equally stupid Roy Blunt.

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