Caption: Back by popular demand: big crawdads and little crawdads join forces to support raising the minimum wage.
The contrast between the long string of congressional pay raises and the refusal of the current ruling clique to raise the minimum wage makes a pretty tempting target.
And to El Cabrero, a longtime devotee of the classical martial arts, wacking away at tempting targets is something of a Christian Duty or, in more inclusive terms, a veritable Kantian categorical imperative. So here goes again…
Since Congress raised the minimum wage to $5.15 in 1997, the value of the wage has shrunk by 20 to 25 percent. In the same period, it has increased its own pay by $34,900, more than a typical worker makes in a year.
As Holly Sklar points out in a recent op-ed,
Members of Congress like to talk about values. They sure don't mean the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
While more and more hardworking Americans struggle to make ends meet, Congress showed what it really values -- the rising value of congressional pay.
I think it’s calculator time again.
A minimum wage worker working 40 hours a week (probably at three different jobs) would have to work 6,777 hours to make the raises Congress has voted itself since the last increase. It would take a little over 3 years and three months.
And the worker in question probably would have done more socially useful work and less harm than the current ruling congressional junta. At least they probably wouldn’t have gutted Medicaid, increased the price of student loans, and slashed other programs.
As Sklar, author with Dr. Paul Sherry of A Just Minimum Wage: Good for Workers, Business and Our Future, puts it:
Full-time workers at minimum wage make less than $900 a month to pay rent, food, healthcare, gas and everything else. No wonder the U.S. Conference of Mayors Hunger and Homelessness Survey found that 40 percent of adults requesting emergency food assistance were employed, as were 15 percent of the homeless.
Childcare workers and security guards struggle to care for their own children. EMTs and health care aides can't afford to take sick days.
Yet Congress has given itself raise after raise, while giving none to minimum wage workers.
Some congressional opposition to raising the minimum wage is faith based, the faith in question being the worship of the market god and fear of its displeasure. This is bad theology as well as bad social science. Increasing the minimum wage stimulates the economy and can help improve employee morale and motivation.
And finally, as the Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign sums it up, “A job should keep you out of poverty not keep you in it.”
GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: ELEVATED