Friday, July 08, 2005

The Minimum Wage MUST Be Raised

This editorial, Who needs a raise more: Tom DeLay or a bus boy?, that the Austin American Statesman published earlier this week by Don Baylor from the Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP), is a damning assessment of the current minimum wage. It does an excellent job of showing how the people's servants have been doing a much better job of serving themselves than those they serve:
Since 1998, the House has raised its annual member salary by $31,600, a 23.7 percent cumulative increase to $165,200 per year.

During these same years, the federal minimum wage has been stuck at $5.15 an hour, the second longest period of stagnation since its inception in 1938.
This is also an excellent campaign issue. Check out these numbers:
A recent poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center shows that 82 percent of Americans support a minimum wage increase, calling it an "important priority." Yet opponents of adjusting the minimum wage contend that an increase would contribute to job losses. Research has largely discredited this theory. Employment has grown faster in states that offer higher minimum wages. Also, a $5.15 state can expect higher turnover, higher absenteeism and lower productivity than fairer wage states.
These numbers too:
Over the past few years, several states, including Florida, have taken it upon themselves to raise their minimum wage. Texas also needs to increase its minimum wage, which is $5.15 an hour. Texas has the highest number of minimum-wage earners in the country (one out of every nine minimum-wage earners in America lives in Texas). And, contrary to political rhetoric, most of these Texans are full-time working adults. More than one-third of minimum-wage earning Texans are their families' sole breadwinners.
Rep. Jim Dunnam filed a bill during the regular session to raise the minimum wage in Texas to $6.15/hr. and it went no where. This is a populist issue that crosses many lines and has overwhelming popular support. Every Republican should be made to answer why they do not support raising the minimum wage. Only an out and out extremist would be opposed to raising the minimum wage at this time. As much as the Republicans like running around telling us all how well the economy is going, what possible excuse could they have for denying many workers their first raise in 11 years? That's right, it's been 11 years since the minimum raise has been raised.


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