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Real Faces of the Minimum Wage

By       Message Richard Eskow     Permalink
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Source: Campaign for America's Future



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Corporate interests and their elected representatives have created a world of illusion in order to resist paying a decent wage to working Americans. They'd have us believe that minimum-wage workers are teens from 50's TV sitcoms working down at the local malt shoppe.

It's a retro-fantasy where corporate stinginess creates minority jobs, working parents can't possibly be impoverished, and nobody gets hurt except kids who drive Dad's convertible and top up their allowances with a minimum-wage job slinging burgers.

But then, you probably need to resort to fantasy arguments when you're arguing against a minimum-wage increase supported by nearly three-quarters of the voting public.

Here's the truth: Most minimum-wage workers are adults, the majority of them are women, and many are parents who are trying to raise their children on poverty wages.

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The Facts

Minimum wage workers are adults.

Nearly 80 percent of the workers who would be directly affected by a minimum wage increase are adults, as seen in an analysis by the National Women's Law Center. When you include those who would be indirectly affected that figure becomes more than 92 percent.

Less than 16 percent of workers who would be affected by President Obama's minimum-wage proposal are teenagers.

Minimum wage workers are parents.

Many of those workers are parents. More than 7 million children -- nearly one out of every 10 kids in the United States -- have parents whose income would go up under a new minimum wage.  When you count the parents whose wages would be indirectly affected, that rises to more than 11 million (or roughly one in six) children whose households would benefit from the increase.

Most minimum-wage workers are women.

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That's not something the right wants to emphasize. Other than formally declaring itself "anti-woman," there's not much more the GOP can do to lose the female vote. It certainly doesn't want people to notice that this is one more policy that disproportionately harms women.

The Fantasy

This may not be a Leave It to Beaver world, but there are plenty of real-life Eddie Haskells. Remember Eddie, the unctuous and untrustworthy high-school self-promoter? Think Mitt Romney -- who supported raising the minimum wage, at least in principle, until he began a Presidential campaign which was funded by his fellow millionaires and dependent on today's radical right. Then he reversed himself quicker than a fella could say "You look lovely today, Mrs. Cleaver!"

Romney argued that the minimum wage should be tied, not to productivity or executive gains, but to world indicators. That would create a global wage race to the bottom, one that hurts everyone except the wealthiest corporate leaders worldwide. That's the point, of course. ("You look lovely today, Frau Merkel!")

Last month Republicans in Congress rejected a proposal that would have raised the minimum wage to $10.10. They've also indicated they would reject the President's more modest proposal for a $9.00 minimum.

True to form, they keep trotting out that tired old "malt shoppe" argument. Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, for example, said she opposed a higher minimum wage because "you're going to exclude a lot of younger workers."

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rj-eskow/the-dumbest-bipartisa

Host of 'The Breakdown,' Writer, and Senior Fellow, Campaign for America's Future


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