Thursday, January 1, 2015

A new Year, an old injustice

Happy New Year!

At midnight the minimum wage went up a few cents in 20 or so states.  While the Federal minimum wage is still at $7.25 most states are within $1 of that figure.  In most cases, federal jobs excluded, the state wage supersedes the Federal. 

In Arizona, for example, the wage rose to $8.05 per hour on New Year's day 2015. 

It almost seems generous until you run the numbers....

The average minimum wage job will not offer full time hours (less than 35) to their workers due to employers unwilling to shoulder the additional burden of offering healthcare, overtime and other benefits afforded fulltime employment.

As such and assuming $7.25/hr Federal minimum wage the "technically" Part Time worker (which could be up to 34 hours) would be grossing $12,818 if they got 34 hours a week and worked 52 weeks of the year. 

After deductions that employee would be well under the current (for 2014) poverty line for a one person household of $11,670.  Even 40 hours would offer no reprieve after deductions for health care premiums and a higher tax rate would effectively lessen take home pay.

In 1985 I could live very well on just under 12 grand.  In 2014 I'm likely on public assistance, rely on emergency rooms for my healthcare and frequent the local food pantry to eat.  

Worse, I have a bevy of new regulations to sift through concerning mandated health insurance that I can't afford anyway.

So when I hear resistance from employers paying less than $9 an hour to their full time employees stating that an increased wage would force an increase in prices I'm literally gobsmacked.

The argument is basically this....

"We need to keep wages low and our workers in abject poverty in order to keep our prices down."

I've long been a proponent of a fair wage for a fair day's work and along with that paying what things really cost. 

But what I'm hearing is little more than institutionalized slavery rationalized by an economy based on consuming instead of value.  It's a society where WalMart is the standard and the advances of the last 100 years of labor law are looked on as an inconvenience perpetuated by evil unions.

We hear that minimum wage jobs are "entry level" and not meant to be permanent but gone are the days where they were the exclusive domain of teenagers looking for gas money.  Parents, senior citizens  and displaced professionals often find themselves competing for them simply because there isn't anything else.

What these employers don't realize is that paying a slave wage breeds slave economies that can no longer afford  their wares. 

The snake is eating itself...

These jobs are the last bastion of self-sufficiency for workers without any other opportunity.    

There's no further argument to be made when the opposition's rebuttal is grounded in inequity.  It's the same argument that led to the Southern states walking out of congress in 1861.  That being that the Southern economy could not survive without slave labor.

How is this argument any different other than its scope?  In this case an entire nation instead of a portion of it.

I can't accept the ridiculous or the unjust...enough said...