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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 2/21/13

Living Wages Should Be Our Minimum Demand

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(Article changed on February 21, 2013 at 16:31)

Here are the facts: 

- The federal minimum wage = $7.25 /hr. 

- President Obama wants to raise it to $9.00 /hr. 

- The current US Poverty wage = $10.60 /hr. 

- The current living wage rate averages $16 to $23 /hr 

The living wage rate varies depending on where you live. Both the poverty wage rate and living wage rates are based on full-time employment, working 40 hour per week. 

Profitable companies paying workers, or their out sourced or supply chain workers, less than a living wage are financially benefitting from government aid to the working poor. We need a stable work force to be competitive. We also can't have people starving to death in the wealthiest nation on Earth. Companies take advantage of this and let state or federal governments step in to help care for their workers. This amounts to a labor discount. Cheap labor! Corporations are padding their profits at taxpayer expense.

Most working households making less than the median household income require some form of government subsidy to maintain their financial stability. The cumulative effect of wage suppression over the past 40 years has become a huge taxpayer drain on households making more than the median income.  In effect, profitable corporations and companies are making their higher paid employees subsidize part-time workers and full-time works who make less than a living wage.

While almost everyone's wages have been suppressed relative to GDP, the ranks of the working poor have grown to almost half of the work force. Business profits that have not been shared with these workers over the years have gone instead to the wealtiest 1% of American's creating the huge income inequality we have today.  Suppressed wages ultimately lead to higher taxes, less federal revenue, suppressed consumption and a sluggesh economy. But for the working poor, the impact is truly painful.

So the next time you see that cleaning lady at work, remember your employer is expecting you to subsidize her family though income taxes rather than pay her the living wage she needs just to make ends meet.  Every conservative argument against raising the minimum wage is just a smoke screen for the real culprit behind unemployment and our sluggish economy, WAGE SUPPRESSION! 

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Brian Lynch is a retired social worker who worked in the areas of adult mental health and child protection for many years. His work brought him into direct contact with all the major social issues of the day and many of our basic social (more...)

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