A PROGRESSIVE VOICE FROM THE LLANO ESTACADO

Monday, February 18, 2013

Americans Support Raising Minimum Wage

(Chart above was found at Under The Mountain Bunker.)

In a fair society, both workers and business owners would benefit from an increase in worker productivity. And that is what happened in America from World War II until the 1970s. At that time, the minimum wage began to remain stagnant (and actually drop in buying power) while productivity continued to rise. And in the 1980s, with the institution of GOP "trickle-down" economic theory and the war against unions, the wages of all workers joined the minimum wage in becoming stagnant (and dropping in buying power).

This happened because the new government policies actually encouraged the corporations to stop sharing the gains in productivity, and keep all of those gains for themselves. This is personified by the rise in salaries of the top 1% being over 270% while worker wages were stagnant -- and the minimum wage continued to drop in buying power, from approximately $10.50 an hour (in today's dollars) to only $7.25 an hour.

In his State of the Union speech, President Obama stated his desire to raise the minimum wage to $9.00 an hour, and then tie it to the rate of inflation (so it would't immediately start losing buying power again). This wouldn't put the buying power of the minimum wage back to where it was in the late 1960s (it would have to be raised to $10.50 an hour to do that), but it would be a big help to hurting American families and it would create more demand since that new money would be spent (thus creating new jobs and bigger profits for businesses).

Congressional Republicans immediately came out against raising the minimum wage at all (and many of them actually want to abolish the minimum wage). They are using the same old tired arguments -- that it would cost jobs and hurt the economy. They completely ignore the fact that numerous studies have shown both to be utterly false. They're not about to let mere facts derail their economic plan to funnel all of America's wealth into the pockets of the rich.

Of course, this brings up the question of just what do the American people think. Do they believe the Republican lies and oppose raising the minimum wage? Or do they support the idea that it would be good for the country to raise the minimum wage? The newest poll I found that addresses this question was done in February of 2012, but I doubt that many people have changed their minds about this important issue in the last year (especially since they overwhelmingly rejected the Republicans in the last election).

The survey was done by Lake Research Partners in February 2012 of 850 nationwide voters (with a margin of error of 3.5 points). The survey asked if people would support a rise in the minimum wage to $10.00 an hour (a $1.00 an hour bigger raise than the president has asked for). Here are the numbers:

WOULD YOU SUPPORT RAISING THE FEDERAL MINIMUM WAGE TO $10 AN HOUR IN 2014?
support...............73%
oppose...............20%
unsure...............7%

DEMOGRAPHIC BREAKDOWN OF THOSE SUPPORTING A RAISE IN MINIMUM WAGE.
men...............66%
women...............79%

under 30...............78%
30 to 39...............74%
40 to 49...............74%
50 to 64...............74%
over 65...............68%

non-college men...............73%
non-college women...............82%
college men...............57%
college women...............74%

Democratic men...............90%
Democratic women...............92%
Independent men...............67%
Independent women...............82%
Republican men...............43%
Republican women...............58%

White...............69%
African-American...............92%
Latino...............85%

Northeast...............73%
Midwest...............68%
South...............77%
West...............72%

WHAT IMPACT ON THE ECONOMY WOULD RAISING THE MINIMUM WAGE HAVE?
help...............56%
hurt...............21
none...............16%
unsure...............6%

WOULD YOU BE LIKELY TO VOTE FOR A CANDIDATE WHO SUPPORTED RAISING THE MINIMUM WAGE?
more likely...............56%
less likely...............18%
no difference...............24%
unsure...............3%

There you have it. The public overwhelmingly support the idea of raising the minimum wage -- and in fact, would support a much larger raise that President Obama has proposed. It is time to get this done. It would help everyone by helping the poor, providing an upward pressure on all wages, putting more spending in the economy for businesses to profit from, and create new jobs due to the increased demand for good/services. The only thing that would be hurt are the feelings of congressional Republicans (and that's the last thing we should worry about).

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