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The World Takes Notice Of American Wage Outrage


The pathetic plight of the nation’s minimum wage is no longer just a fight for fairness in the U.S., but rather a point of global shame gaining the attention of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

An IMF report released last week details how America’s economic growth is being hamstrung by the current $7.25 federal minimum wage. It forecasts that the U.S. economy will grow by only two percent annually over the next several years and that low wages and bad tax policies are a major part of the reason why.

“[G]iven its current low level (compared both to U.S. history and international standards), the minimum wage should be increased,” the document states. “This would help raise incomes for millions of working poor and would have strong complementarities with the suggest improvements in the [earned income tax credit], working in tandem to ensure a meaningful increase in after-tax earnings for the nation’s poorest households.”

The report notes that nearly 50 million Americans live in poverty and that will not change until this country does a better job of creating jobs that can earn workers a middle-class wage. And how does the U.S. do that? Investing in infrastructure, something the Teamsters have been advocating.

“Additional investment is urgently needed to upgrade the quality of infrastructure in the U.S., particularly for surface transportation,” the IMF stated. “Most pressing is the need to provide clarity on future financing of the Highway Trust Fund. However, this should be viewed only as a first step.”

Thankfully, not everyone is waiting for a stalled Congress to act on raising the minimum wage. As it stands, 22 states and the District of Columbia mandate starting salaries above the federal standard and the push to increase it grows every day.

Massachusetts, for example, just enacted a law that will raise the minimum wage in the Bay State to $11 an hour by 2017. Elsewhere, however, efforts to raise it to as high as $15 an hour are facing a more contentious road to approval.

A better nation begins with an economy that works for all hard-working Americans. More and more, the public is beginning to see that it is grasping the short straw when it comes to getting the attention of the lawmakers who it elects. A booming stock market does not fulfill the American Dream. It is buying a home, earning an honest wage and providing for one’s family.

The world now sees what many in the U.S. have seen for years – not streets paved with gold, but a nation ruled by the rich few for their own benefit. If America wants to become an example for those around the globe again, it has to make sure it has its own house in order first. That means returning to a nation of, by and for all people.