Location: Granite Falls, North Carolina, United States

I'm an ordained United Methodist minister no longer pastoring churches, a former media producer with skills ten years out of date, a writer trying to sell my first novel, and a sales associate keeping body and soul together working for the People's Republic of Corporate America. I'm married to the most wonderful woman in the world, who was my best friend for 17 years before we married.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

A Living Wage

I have been in the work force for 40 years, full- and part-time, and I have seen that every time the minimum wage has gone up, unemployment has gone down. You would think people would learn from that real-world experience, wouldn't you? But no. They prefer their ivory tower theories that don't take every factor into consideration.

The standard argument against raising the minimum wage is that small employers can't afford to pay more, so more people will be laid off, blah, blah, blah. Then why does unemployment go DOWN when the minimum wage goes up? Try this: Take demand into consideration along with supply. Low-wage people, when they get more money, spend it. They don't put it into hostile corporate takeovers or Cayman Island secret accounts. They need the money to buy basic necessities. So when low-income people get more income, they spend it right away, creating more demand, which means merchants have to provide more inventory, which means suppliers have to stock more, which means manufacturers have to increase output, which means hiring more workers all the way around.

It has been estimated that if the minimum wage had kept up with inflation since 1968 it would be over $11 per hour now. And if it had kept up with the increase in CEO compensation it would be approaching $50 an hour by now. Workers need an average of around $10 an hour to maintain a family of four at a minimal standard of living. Therefore, I propose that the minimum wage be raised to $10 an hour, and adjusted for inflation every year after that automatically.

That, combined with public demand for American-made goods, will help bring our unemployment problem under control.


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