July 27, 2009

Short rations

Random goat picture.

When this blog first got off the ground back in early 2006, a major fight was on to raise the minimum wage, which had been stagnant for around a decade. At the time, several of us usual suspects were trying for the first time to get El Cabrero's beloved state of West Virginia to raise it about the federal level as a way of nudging Congress to do the same.

Some early posts here were more or less panicked accounts of the bill's ups and downs. It did eventually pass, although it had so many loopholes that some people questioned the value of the legislation.

I tend to believe in taking the ground you can and then worrying about the rest. At any rate, coalitions at the state and national level pushed to raise it at the state and federal level. Each state win contributed to the momentum to raise the federal. The fact that the minimum wage was on the ballot in some states in 2006 may even have encouraged more people who don't usually vote to come out and may have swayed results of congressional elections in some states.

Anyhow, in 2007 Congress finally acted, passing legislation that raised it from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 in three steps, the last of which took place on July 24. Workers in 31 states, including West Virginia, will receive a boost; in 19 states, minimum wages were already at or about the $7.25 figure.

According to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute, this increase will directly affect 2,814,000 workers and will have an indirect spillover impact on 1,640,000. Altogether, 4,454,000 workers will receive some kind of increase. In West Virginia, the increase will directly affect 63,000 workers and indirectly affect another 32,000 for a total impact on 95,000.

More details to come.

I'd wager that those who do get a boost will spend it pretty quickly.

HOUSE. As I mentioned in the weekend post, the American Friends Service Committee worked with people in Logan County to do something positive in the wake of a widely publicized case involving the torture of an African American woman there in 2007. Here's more press coverage of the dedication of a house built by community members for two elderly sisters who had been living in an unsafe and inaccessible place.

MINING CONTROVERSIES are the subject of this op-ed by yours truly.

HEALTH CARE. The issue of subsidies to help people buy insurance is a key sticking point now.

OK, so ants may be smarter than us.


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