Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Why we need a minimum wage, and a better one

Some people say a minimum wage is unnecessary and even harmful. I say it's vital and doesn't go far enough.

Lots of figures and statistics abound to argue for either side. But for me, the need for the wage lies in a very simple argument:

A minimum wage consistent with a minimum cost of living is at least what we need to make work pay in America. Meaning people can pay off their expenses with little to no savings, which is a pathetically low bar. But it's a bar minimum-wagers usually can't clear (and even if they can, one unplanned event can wipe it all out). As long as work doesn't pay at the bottom (which doesn't stop at the minimum wage), then those people will have to rely on government assistance, for which all of us pay.

As long as people are able to work full-time and still be functionally impoverished, then we are failing as a country. We only make it worse by dismissing such jobs as the province of teenagers or dumb people (as if it's OK if they're broke). We can't be that judgmental in this economy, or in any economy.

There is no excuse for not raising the minimum wage substantially, apart from protecting greed. So, really, no excuse.

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