June 23, 2006


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.”



Wabi-Sabi said...


Pennsylvania Goat Fan said...

You need to publicize that the Congressional pay raises since 1997 as more money than a minimum wage worker gets.

In Pennsylvania, the public is punishing do-nothing state legislators who voted itself pay raises and neglected to work on major issues. That's an attitude we should take toward Congress, as well.

Anonymous said...

I work at Prestera Mental Health Center in Charleston as a Therapist in a mental health program. One of the most difficult issues when motivating youth is low minimum wage compared to continued governmental dependency.

My first novel, "Rarity from the Hollow" (science fiction) is available from Fatcat Press. The protagonist, an empowered victim, addresses economic issues in the manner appropriate.

Robert Eggleton

Anonymous said...

Hi-- Man, I might have really screwed up. Some of you know that I wrote a novel, Rarity from the Hollow, the first release in the Lacy Dawn Adventures series, which has received great reviews, and that author proceeds are donated to prevent child abuse. Well, anyway, I went to this newgroup to tell them about my novel winning a competition. The people there started an argument about whether I had the right to tell them about my novel on the newsgroup -- they called my post spam. The argument lasted a long time.

Then, apparently emotions got worked up -- not mine as I was having fun and thought it was all philosophical -- but members who have never read by novel posted insults about me and it on the Mobipocket site as if they were posting reviews of something that they'd read but had not.

This could definitely hurt the project to raise funds to protect kids. I feel especially bad about my mistake on behalf of them. I had decided to quit. Yesterday, a little girl in one of the group therapy sessions I facilitate told her peers that she was strong enough to testify about the awful things that her daddy had done to her. She's less than four feet tall and skinny.

It made me feel so guilty about deciding to quit my project that I'm going to find some type of solution. I don't think that arguing with people about what is or is not "spam" is a good idea, at least not from my self-promotion angle. I think that it's best as a debate strictly among consumers and I've got something that I can't help but promote and come off too strong.

I've already given the people who called me a liar the info to contact the agency to which author proceeds are donated for verification. I even gave them info on how to verify my own employment at my mental health center. It didn't help.

I gave them my email address hoping that they could verify that I had not posted reviews of my own novel in order to up the rating (an accusation). They responded that some of the reviews were from the same multi-state ISP even if not from the same address and posted a lie on the Mobipocket site.

I gave them the address for the five-year-old contest that named my novel as one of the best published in 2006. They said that it was not a contest, was inconsequential, but didn't put down any of the other books in various genres that were listed.

I'll figure out something. Thanks. Let me know if you have any questions.

Robert Eggleton
"Rarity from the Hollow"