Skip to main content

Its time for millions of Americans to get a raise. Its waaay past due, about 45 years past due in fact.  

Deflating Minimum Wage Costs Workers Billions of Dollars

By Ralph Nader and  Jeff Musto

A single minimum wage worker who has worked continually for the federal minimum wage since 1968 has been deprived of over a quarter million dollars in wages over the course of those 45 years. $293,735.12 to be exact. A new white paper released last week, Lost Wages, revealed this fact.

The reason for these lost wages is simple: The minimum wage is not tied to inflation, which lowers its purchasing power every year. And far too many Congresses and presidents have failed to act to ensure that it increased with inflation since 1968.

With millions of Americans forced into accepting poverty level wages by the Great Recession, the low level of the minimum wage is putting a bigger drag on the US economy today than at any time in the last 45 years.
In the 45 years that the minimum wage has lost nearly one third of its value, the compensation of large corporations' CEOs has shot up through the roof, increasing over 900 percent. Large corporations and their executives have been benefiting from and taking advantage of cheap labor and have achieved windfall profits in the past few decades.
Neglecting the the minimum wage habitually for the last 45 years means we have been stealing from the poorest Americans in many cases to give to some of the richest Americans who run the big fast food chains, and dozens of other large corporations like WalMart. That is obscene. I don't know how else to describe it.
Meanwhile, the annual income of a minimum wage worker working full time is $15,080. This doesn't come close to the poverty line for a family of three. Minimum and low-wage workers are left struggling with ever deeper debts just to afford basic necessities such as food, housing, transportation and healthcare. Individuals and families are working more -- and paying more -- for less, often without health insurance or paid sick leave.
History has shown that large multinational corporations who care solely about ever-greater profits won't take care of their workers on their own. They would pay slave-wages if they could. FDR knew that large corporations would resist these changes and warned Congress and the public not to be frightened by their fear-mongering, exclaiming, "Do not let any calamity-howling executive with an income of $1,000 a day, ...tell you...that a wage of $11 a week is going to have a disastrous effect on all American industry."
A very interesting thing happened along Washington's border with low wage Idaho
when my state made our Minimum Wage the highest in the US (of this I am very proud).
For $7.93 an Hour, It’s Worth a Trip Across a State Line

By Timothy Egan
Published: January 11, 2007

 Nearly a decade ago, when voters in Washington approved a measure that would give the state’s lowest-paid workers a raise nearly every year, many business leaders predicted that small towns on this side of the state line would suffer.

But instead of shriveling up, small-business owners in Washington say they have prospered far beyond their expectations. In fact, as a significant increase in the national minimum wage heads toward law, businesses here at the dividing line between two economies — a real-life laboratory for the debate — have found that raising prices to compensate for higher wages does not necessarily lead to losses in jobs and profits.

Idaho teenagers cross the state line to work in fast-food restaurants in Washington, where the minimum wage is 54 percent higher. That has forced businesses in Idaho to raise their wages to compete.

In my estimation the two things that could boost the US economy the fastest are: 1. Raising the Minimum Wage substantially 2. Unionizing WalMart

Any country that claims to be civilized and value social justice shouldn't turn away from its poorest citizens. Citizens who wield the least political power when these decisions are made, or are being ritually procrastinated on by politicians who have little contact with the poor, except across the counter at a fast food restaurant.

All work deserves a measure of dignity and decent compensation.  

The Minimum Wage isn't just a Labor issue its a an issue about our decency to each other as a society.

Originally posted to Lefty Coaster on Wed Aug 21, 2013 at 06:04 PM PDT.

Also republished by PacNW Kossacks and In Support of Labor and Unions.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site