Minimum wage workers made $5.15 an hour when Harry Potter became a sensation a decade ago, and nothing more until July 24, three days after the final Harry Potter book release.
The same year Harry Potter and the $5.15 minimum wage made their debuts, in 1997, Business Week declared CEO pay was "Out of Control." Since then, CEO pay has gotten more out of control.
The July 24 minimum wage increase from $5.15 to $5.85 is so little, so late, that the minimum wage is still worth less than it was back in 1997, when it was $6.67 in today's dollars.
Minimum wage workers had more buying power when Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton opened his first Walton’s 5 & 10 in 1951.
CEOs make more in 90 minutes than minimum wage workers make in a year.
In 1980, the average CEO at a big corporation made as much as 97 minimum wage workers. In 1997, the average CEO made as much as 728 minimum wage workers.
Last year, CEOs made as much as 1,419 minimum wage workers.
"As the productivity of workers increases, one would expect worker compensation to experience similar gains," a 2001 U.S. Department of Labor report observed.
Instead, the gains have gone to record-breaking profits, CEOs and other have-mores.
Between 1980 and 2006, worker productivity went up 70 percent, average worker wages went nowhere, the minimum wage fell 32 percent, and domestic corporate profits rose 256 percent, adjusting for inflation.
A red light for minimum wage was a green light for accelerating greed.
It's time to stop overpaying CEOs enough to keep their families rich for many generations to come at the expense of workers paid poverty wages today.
Even the state with the highest minimum wage, Washington at $7.93, doesn't match the buying power of the federal minimum wage at its peak in 1968. Worth $9.56 in today's dollars, the 1968 minimum wage was more than $2 higher than the scheduled raise in the federal minimum wage to $7.25 on July 24, 2009.