Monday, April 04, 2005

Living Wage

One area that is being ignored -- well, I'm not sure ignored is the right word -- but it definitely isn't getting much attention and it's the plight of the average worker or labor as it used to be called. The biggest coup the Republicans have been able to pull off is, through the use of "moral values" -- or the business is good, government is bad crew -- they have been able to trick people into voting against their own economic best interests in favor of a party that supposedly stands with them on moral issues. It has also allowed the Republicans to take away, to a great extent, the Democrats mantle as the party of the people. That's what Thomas Frank's book What's The Matter With Kansas was about. I believe the minimum wage, or what I think is a better term for it, a living was is a great opportunity for the Democrats.

Last week I posted an article, How to Turn Your Red State Blue, which talked about the, "need to systematically expand the universe of access points to the progressive worldview and actively recruit people into the fold." One of these access points is to increase the minimum wage. Not only do we need to increase it but we need to frame it as and use the term LIVING WAGE. A former Republican President that dumped the Republicans and started his own party described a living wage like this:
We stand for a living wage. Wages are subnormal if they fail to provide a living for those who devote their time and energy to industrial occupations. The monetary equivalent of a living wage varies according to local conditions, but must include enough to secure the elements of a normal standard of living--a standard high enough to make morality possible, to provide for education and recreation, to care for immature members of the family, to maintain the family during periods of sickness, and to permit of reasonable saving for old age.
What an awesome phrase, "..a standard high enough to make morality possible". How is that for a party slogan? Democrats, Making Morality Possible! This is a great opportunity and a great issue to run on. Many in the opposition oppose raising the minimum wage using the excuse that it will increase unemployment. That has been debunked.

So why all the fuss? There are three bills in the Texas House this session attempting to raise the minimum wage in Texas. The one that everyone is signing onto is HB 816. I think it is imperative that we get our two State Representatives to take a stand on this bill. So give them a call or send them and e-mail: Dan Gattis or Mike Krusee. Being able to campaign against these guys in 2006 saying that they are against workers and the working man would be a good thing.

More from the Center of Public Policy Priorities (CPPP) on Getting the Facts Straight: Texas & the Minimum Wage (.pdf)

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