Think about this: Why do most people work? Isn't it because they don't want to be poor?
Like "jobs, jobs, jobs," the minimum wage is being hypocritically kicked around like a political football by mean-spirited, self-serving politicians. They first refuse to create the jobs they talk about, and then they saddle millions of workers and their families with a sub-poverty minimum wage that bears no relationship to a living wage based on all "cost-of-living" factors. Any school child knows that if you pay people a poverty wage they are going to be poor. Just try raising a family on an hourly minimum wage of $6.15, $7.25, $8.50, $9.00, or even $10.00. What America most needs from its tax dollars is jobs that pay real living wages--not more militarization, foreign military bases, wars and occupations.
Another thing we hear so many over-paid politicians hypocritically talking about is health care. This hypocrisy is especially rich, because these same politicians enjoy platinum-grade publicly-funded health care compliments of the tax-payers.
If we had a National Public Health Care System that was operated, administered and funded like public education, we could put fifteen-million people to work at real-living-wage jobs in neighborhood and community health care centers across the country. Such a system would provide all Americans the free platinum-grade health care the politicians now receive at taxpayer expense.
To produce real value from our tax dollars, what we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity." That act would finally make politicians legislatively accountable for their rhetoric by requiring investments for living-wage jobs, a minimum wage tied realistically to the cost of living, and a truly universal publicly-funded national health care system.
Alan L. Maki is Director of Organizing for the Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council.