The response was predictable. As soon as President Obama mentioned raising the federal minimum wage, conservative ideologue’s blood pressure went sky high.
Rather than a rational, reasoned debate we get Republican commentators making outrageous accusations – like incremental increases in minimum wage could result in federal maximum wage restrictions or suggesting that this is a slippery slope leading to exponential increases in the minimum wage.
There is plenty of data to suggest that raising the minimum wage could cost jobs. And it could be argued that a good portion of the people making minimum are single, under-25 kids still working their way through school. Why we need to resort to “the sky is falling” tactics is beyond me.
The reason that the minimum wage is on the table has less to do with its effectiveness than the ability to get it passed. Many economists would argue that a rise in the Earned Income Tax Credit is a better option for helping impoverished Americans. But thanks to the obstinance of our political class doing what is good for the people has taken a back seat to what is politically palatable for re-election purposes.
The reality is that corporations are making record profits and the 99 Percent would like to see a corresponding increase in their pay. These people are a cog in the machine that produces these profits and they deserve to enjoy some of the spoils as well. Instead we see income inequality on the rise and politicians blocking any progress based on the “job creators” fallacy.
So rather than more government involvement, we should demand less. We should let the free market operate and keep government out. The results could be much better than pursuing marginal increases in the minimum wage. For example, if government didn’t interfere in the free market negotiations of labor unions and corporations, the working class would be allowed to increase their wages using capitalism instead of government. The data shows that as union membership increases income inequality decreases. The data also shows a strong correlation between the percentage of a state’s population in a union and the percentage of the population earning minimum wage or less.
We could also help both corporations and low-income earners by going to a single-payer system for health care. Corporations are not in business to provide health care and our current system has proven to be woefully inadequate in providing health care to all Americans.
So while Republicans are more than happy to whine about the problems with increasing the minimum wage, they are completely oblivious to the fact that this debate only exists because of their relentless pandering to the rich and to corporations. The way to end the minimum wage debate is to make employees a partner in the free market. Because minimum wage is just a bad solution to decades of bad Republican legislation.