Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Score Another One for Pelosi

The House has now voted 315-116 to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 over the next two years. The bill passed with a veto-proof majority, including 82 Republicans, despite insistence by Republican leaders that they would not approve it unless it also included corporate tax giveaways (the House passed a clean bill instead).

The Republicans grumble, as always, that it will "cost jobs" in face of all the evidence from all previous increases. (There has never been a problem. Republicans are just greedy.) After 10 years without an increase, this bill is long overdue. If Reid can shepherd this bill safely through the Senate, with a similar margin, then in 60 days ordinary Americans may feel the first tangible fruits of their mini-revolt in the 2006 midterm elections.


Anonymous said...

Woah. For two reasons - first, I'm impressed that they've put through a clean bill to raise the minimum wage by such a percentage - that's really good. I hope it manages to go all the way.

But, I'm also really surprised at how low the minimum wage is over there - I never earned as little as GBP2.60 (rough conversion), even back when I was 16-17 and working as a waitress/shop clerk (current UK min wage , average wage is around GBP24k).

How does minimum wage compare with average wage, cost of living, all that kind of stuff? The last time I was in the US, I was only 11, so didn't really have any awareness of that kind of thing (other than the fact that food seemed cheap, and portions were huge, and that I could have pancakes for breakfast every day) - just curious... 

// posted by Pombat

Anonymous said...

About half of U.S. states have local laws that set the minimum wage higher than the federal requirement (e.g. California's minimum wage is $7.50). In many ways the second-biggest political shift of the 2006 election was that voters in several states raised their minimum wages via referenda. Some municipalities also require their contractors to meet higher "living wage" standards (e.g. Los Angeles requires ~$10 dollars/hour.)

Even so, those minimum rates really are quite low, as Pombat points out. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, average hourly wages for production (non-supervisory) workers in the U.S. is about $17/hour, and the median household income is about $45k/year. A full-time worker earning only minimum wage would receive less than one-quarter of that median income. Incidentally, the real minimum wage and median income have actually decreased slightly over the past two decades.

Anonymous said...

Yep, America has a category that Europeans often find appalling - the working poor. That is we have a large portion of society that works full time but still lives below the poverty line and has little access to health care benefits and retirement benefits.

Germans often talk about a 2/3 society in their country. They talk about the 1/3 who are frequently unemployed or underemployed (or in danger of dropping into that category) and depend on state programs for rent, health care and other expenses.

We have a very similar problem in the US except that instead of being dependent on the state, our bottom 1/3 is dependent on crappy jobs (or in danger of being reduced to that).

Frankly, I see a lot of advantages in the German approach. But there are problems with it. Their economy hasn't had a rapid growth period in decades and so job creation is slow and doesn't meet needs. Our system has obvious problems too.

There are no perfect policies. We must chose which problems we're most willing to tolerate. My prefernce would be to tolerate slower growth knowing that we don't have massive numbers of peole without access to health care etc. 

// posted by RBR

Anonymous said...

I agree with RBR.

But then again, you all forget, we live in an "ownerhsip" society. Humpffff. 

// posted by USWest

Anonymous said...

There's something wrong with a "first world"
economy where so many are so poor and so desperate that, without a minimum wage, they would be reduced to working for third world wages. We shouldn't need a minimum wage - the job market should be tight enough, and public benefits otherwise good enough, to ensure that nobody will be coerced by economic circumstances into working for below a living wage. Republicans don't see it that way. George F. Will is calling for abolishing the minimum wage altogether.

Of course, he is rich. 

// posted by LTG

Anonymous said...

To me, the phrase, "an 'ownership' society," always sounds like slavery. I wonder how that phrase sounds to the millions who don't own anything...