There’s plenty of reasons why workers deserve a raise. Heck, the one percent gives itself a raise every chance it gets while median household income fell more than 20 percent since 2001. The federal minimum wage ($7.25) hasn’t been raised in six years.
- It’s good for families. According to economist James Galbraith, a higher minimum wage would increase the income of 28 million working Americans, especially for women who tend to work lower wage jobs than men. More family income means some choosing to retire or go back to school, creating more job openings for those who need work. And more revenue from payroll and income taxes would also help bring down the deficit.
- It’s good for the economy. A higher minimum wage means putting more money into the hands of those who actually spend it. Working Americans – not the super-rich who like to hoard their wealth and stow it away in a tax shelters overseas – are the ones who put their money back into the real economy.
- It helps people get out of debt. That’s because more money for workers means less money going toward the unproductive, shadow economy of finance, insurance, and real estate. Since deregulation took hold in the 1970s, more of the national income has been funneled into the pockets of the one percent who like to gamble with our money in the Wall Street casino, putting workers in debt.
- It protects workers from abusive employers. A higher minimum wage would give bosses less power to exploit low-wage labor like undocumented workers. That also means less downward pressure on wages in general.
- It delivers justice for working people. Raising the minimum wage is the least we can do to restore some fairness for workers who have been robbed by 30 years of class warfare orchestrated by the one percent. It’s one of many overdue reparations owed to working Americans.
As Auerback writes in his piece, increasing the minimum wage would do even more for the middle class than token tax hikes on the super-wealthy:
This is far more sensible policy than symbolic nods to the left through gimmicks such as the so-called Buffett Rule, which might raise new revenues from the mega-wealthy through taxes, but will likely amount to very little because gazillionaires can hire clever accountants to help them get around it. No, we need policies that clearly do something for hard-working people who have been clobbered by a financial crisis they didn't create.
Several states are pushing measures to raise the minimum wage, including Massachusetts, which is looking to move it up to $10 per hour.
Workers came out in dozens of cities nationwide last week demanding an increase in the federal minimum wage, part of a coalition campaign led by SEIU, AFL-CIO and other groups.