Thursday, June 01, 2006

A Worker is Worthy of Their Wages

The state minimum wage was just increased to $6.50 an hour. This will affect some 200,000 Wisconsin workers that currently work for the minimum wage. As Xoff has already said, the Republicans in the state Legislature fought this raise through the whole process. Cities like Madison, Milwaukee, and others were able to put some pressure on the Legislature by raising their own minimum wage and actually helped to force a compromise.

Although the raise to $6.50 is better than Wisconsin’s previous minimum wage (and obviously better than the paltry $5.15 from the Federal government), I’m not sure it was worth the price that the Democrats had to pay to get it done. By adding what is called a pre-emption law to the current increase, Republicans were able to keep cities from raising it higher than the state in the future. That is a big loss in my mind.

Government at all levels have been forcing more families off of public assistance and into low paying jobs. Even when these workers put in a full-time week of work, the typical family is barely above or even below the poverty threshold. Even with this current raise, a full-time worker only earns a pathetic $13,520 a year. So that is $260 a week? Are you kidding me? Now what if you have a child and you are a single parent? What if the big corporation that you work for does not provide a good health plan and you get sick? How do you pay for your most basic needs on this kind of money, much less save anything? I’d like to see some of these wise cracking righties live on this new minimum wage for a few months. It would certainly be an illuminating experience.

The only real way to have a minimum wage that actually helps is to index it for inflation. Even if you periodically raise it, but costs keep rising faster, then you are continually losing ground. You are accomplishing little and will never catch up to the most basic cost of living. What good is that? Exactly how does that help? Increases in the minimum wage have been eaten up quickly by inflation. This clearly shows us that a simple raise will not do much for those earning the lowest wages.

I can already hear the naysayers making the tired worn out claim that raising the minimum wage will cause job loss. Repeat this all you like, but your harder task is to prove it. What happened after the last Federal minimum wage increase in 1996/97? Let me give you a hint, there was NOT a job loss.

How can anyone that claims to value hard work sit by and watch hard workers live in poverty? We keep hearing that Republicans have a lock on “values.” What values are those exactly? Surely many of you have heard the Bible passage, “a workman is worthy of his wages” haven’t you? Do you really believe that? I do, and that is why I support a minimum wage that can actually sustain a family.


Russ said...

What if you own a small manufacturing company and you pay your employees minimum wage. Then one day you receive an offer from a company in China to produce your widgets for less than you can make them for in your own plant. What do you do then???? It really is time for all Americans to start living the "real world". Manufacturing wages are not determined by politicians setting a minimum wage, manufacturing wages are determined by global competition.

Diana in Wisconsin said...

Well said, Russ! I couldn't agree more. I'm a small business owner, and I'll work 80 hours a week versus hire someone that the state insists I pay more than they're worth, including all the perks and benefits that used to be EARNED by an employee for proving they're a good employee. All of a sudden every perk and benefit is some sort of RIGHT right off the bat!

I refused to open my business in Madison, though I could have and it would have been a larger customer base for me. Between the smoking ban (I don't smoke) the mandatory minimum wage, and now Austin King and his juvenile attempts at making employers pay for sick days for part-time workers...what will come next for the employers?

How this state manages to keep it's strong economy while they grind the small businessperson under their boot heel is beyond me. We're the ones creating the jobs, you fools! But, it's just like the Government to shoot any goose that lays a golden egg. It seems their motto is "Always find a way to punish success!"

Internet and Money said...

I agree with this post. If large corporations don't pay for health care of their employees, then they will use the public health care systems. This is not the intention of public health systems. Public health systems are not meant for the benefit large corporations.

Health Insurance and Health Care

Cory Liebmann said...

russ if you would like to pay near slave wages to save your bottom line, then i would encourage you to move your business to china. your business wont do any good here. if you care at all about your workers, then i would think that you would do right by them and pay them a living wage. productivity and employee morale are directly improved by doing that.

although diana can reference her own personal preferences and experience, the last federal minimum wage increase happened and small business still thrived. everyone won, just as it should be.

the total burden should not be placed on small business or business in general. BUT it should not be placed totally on the backs of minimum wage workers either. after all, they are the least powerful here.

i'm sure that incentives can be given to smaller businesses to make a better minimum wage easier to tolerate.

Cory Liebmann said...

Cory Liebmann said...

let's hope the third time is the charm with trying to post this link...if not email me for it.

Russ said...

Cory, You are missing the point about global competition. Firstly most employers do not pay slave wages as you call them. In the "real world" of globalization the business owner, in most instances, pays his people a fair wage, usually as much as he or she can and still remain profitable. As I said in my first post, the global free market sets wages, not politicians.
As for your comment about Americans moving businesses to China, you've already gotten your wish. If you and your kind keep on burdening small businesses maybe you'll convince more to exit our state. Frankly you need an Econ 101 course with an emphasis on globalization.

Cory Liebmann said...

Russ, it sounds like you have had TOO MANY econ courses that you prefer conservative theory over reality. the last time the minimum wage was raised (the 90's) small businesses thrived. that is reality. sorry that it does not fit your model.

in the name of "global competition" and corporation profits, how low are you willing to go with wages? china and others seem willing to go pretty low. so following your thoughts my "slave wages" description could become a painful reality in America.

paying our workers a living wage is not responsible for the loss of good jobs...unfair trade policy might be the culprit though.