A couple of weeks ago the U. S. Senate voted down an increase in the national minimum wage again. Sixty votes were needed. The bill got only 52 "Yeas."
This particular bill would have seen the bottom rung on the pay ladder move up a couple of dollars from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour between now and January 1, 2009.
The minimum wage level has been stalled at the lower rate since 1997.
Since that time, the purchasing power of $5.15 an hour has declined by 20%. Adjusted for inflation the current minimum hourly wage is as low as it has been since 1955! Remember President Dwight D. Eisenhower? How about the Brooklyn Dodgers? If the wage is not raised by December 2, 2006, it will have been frozen longer than at any time since the inception of the national wage measure in 1938.
Some members of our Congress are working as hard as they can to do two things: block any increase in the minimum wage and repeal the estate tax. Go figure!
Senator Hillary Clinton observed recently that since 1997, the Senate has raised its own pay by $31,600. Clinton's version of a minimum wage bill linked wages at the bottom to congressional pay increases. Going forward increases in minimum wage levels would be increased automatically by the same percentage as any increase in Congressional pay.
The Economic Policy Institute reports that in 2005, the pay of top CEOs of major corporations is 821 times as much as the person earning minimum wage. The CEO earns more before the lunch break in one day than a minimum wage worker earns in an entire year.
Now add in rising utility costs, gasoline prices and health care issues and you have recipe for total disaster.
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Larry James' Urban Daily
A repository of ideas, resources, commentary and opinions concerning the issues facing low-income residents of the inner cities of the United States and how mainstream America largely forgets or, worse, ignores the day-to-day realities of urban life for the so-called "poor." Written and edited by the President & CEO of CitySquare. Please visit CitySquare.
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