Tuesday, March 01, 2016

On Minimum Wage

I have no objection to raising the minimum wage. There is no real proven downside to it, but I see no upside which is of sufficient significance to make it a major plank in the Democratic Party platform. The party’s emphasis on raising the minimum wage makes the Democratic Party the party of low expectations.

If Democrats were “fighting for working men and women” as they claim to be doing, but most certainly are not, they would be talking about bringing the $30/hr jobs and the $45/hr jobs back from overseas. They would be talking about restoring the power of the working class by reinvigorating labor unions and collective bargaining. They, including Bernie Sanders, are not even touching on those subjects.

Those $30/hr and $45/hr jobs began being lost to offshoring during a Democratic Clinton administration, resulting in no small part from a NAFTA treaty promoted vigorously by Hillary Clinton as well as her husband. Remember Ross Perot and his “giant sucking sound” claim? He was laughed at but he was precisely right.

Defenders of the policy of permanently making America a minimum wage economy claim that “those jobs are never coming back”  or that “those jobs cannot be brought back,”  but they have no cogent arguments as to why that is so. Those jobs can be brought back, but it would be hard, and this country apparently no longer does hard things.

In fact, the Democratic Party embraces the continuance of the offshoring of our economy with its support of “free trade”  as defined by the current extension of NAFTA to the Pacific Ocean nations; a pact known as the TPP.

Obama promised in his campaign that he would support labor unions, including a noteworthy statement that whenever there was a picket line, “I will be there at your side.”  It would not be unreasonable to assume he was speaking figuratively rather than literally, but he remained completely disengaged as the Wisconsin governor disbanded the unions in that state, offering not even token verbal support for the working class.

If Democrats were “fighting for working men and women” as they claim to be doing, they would be talking about ways to restore collective bargining so that employees would no longer be powerless when dealing with employers. They would be finding ways to eliminate the "right to work laws" which are passed by legislatures at the behest of business campaign contributors and not by voters.

One has to remember that when we “vote for the lesser evil” we are still voting for evil. The status of the working class is not going to change in this country until we throw evil out, both greater and lesser, and make it clear that we are demanding something better.

1 comment:

  1. bruce8:58 AM

    another problem that is not mentioned much is that many /most? of these minimum wage jobs are low or non skilled labor. High school students, dropouts, new immigrants etc are getting these jobs. Many have kids or families to support. They are not going to get the $30+/hr jobs that are out there, whether they come back or not.

    Sanders is making noise about free tuition, but not everyone needs or should go to university. They do need to finish high school and have a basic skill set or reading, writing and math. The rest could be skilled trades or something. No one is talking about that.

    What about public transportation, what about child care, what about medical care that is not going to bankrupt you even if you do have insurance, what about a place to live that you don't have to share with 10 people to afford it, or worry about mold or vermin.

    At least we don't have the government or insurgents shooting at you. Oh, wait...