Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sinking The Boat, Lifting The Yacht

Christian Schneider, the Journal Sentinel's latest incarnation of conservative parrot Pat McIlheran, opined about how terrible it would be to increase wages for workers - specifically, the minimum wage.

Although, as I found in November 2010, "Others point to the minimum wage as a disincentive to hire and an excessive burden on business. Yet Arindrajit Dube, T. William Lester, and Michael Reich, "Closely analyzed employment trends for several categories of low-wage workers over a 16-year period in all counties sharing a common border with a county in another state where minimum wage increases followed a different trajectory. They report that increases in minimum wages had no negative effects on low-wage employment." Nancy Folbre adds, "Once adjusted for inflation, the federal minimum wage in the United States is lower than it was in 1967. Wage earners seem increasingly unable to capture any of the gains from technological change and productivity growth." Here is yet another conservative talking-point which the empirical evidence thoroughly discredits.

And, as I discovered in January 2012, "The Fiscal Policy Institute has found, States with minimum wages above the Federal level have had faster small business and retail job growth.Raise the Minimum Wage has a primer on the topic.

Conservatives have been trying to diminish the pay of low-wage workers since the minimum wage was enacted. Strangely, they never make the same calls for limiting CEO compensation. Schneider even implies, as many conservatives do, that low-wage workers possibly earning more would sink the American economic boat.

As I previously wrote, "Executives are now averaging pay that is over 300 times as large as their average worker (in the late 1960s, CEOs earned about 25 times as much). CEOs have seen double digit pay increases, year-in and year-out. Average workers have been lucky to see their pay keep up with inflation. If the minimum wage had seen the same increase as CEO pay since 1990, the minimum wage would be $23.03."

As John Schmitt reported, "the U.S. leads developed countries in the share of workers earning low wages."

I don't think the U.S should be worried about $10-an-hour workers "sinking the boat." In fact, most would rather we lead the world in middle-class, living-wage jobs. But, as long as the uber wealthy (whom it seems are the ones Schneider is really concerned about) are reaping the majority of our society's rewards, they are the ones threatening to sink the American dream.

No comments: