$15 an hour toward income equality

$15 an hour toward income equality

For all the bluster and over-the-top campaign rhetoric choking the cable news and radio talk shows this past week, one national organization took a huge step to seriously offer a means to rectify the national crisis of income inequality.  Yes, the Democratic Party passed an amendment to its platform calling for a $15 an hour minimum wage!  Perhaps it is not the end all intervention to reverse the decline of the American working class but it a positive step designed to elevate the quality of life of working people.  Who knows?  Maybe eventually a true living wage will make it possible for those working two or three jobs to make it by working only one.  What’s more, those same workers may be able to afford the same goods and services they are providing.  We can debate feasibility in whatever locality when appropriate but it is now a matter of public record, the Democratic Party Platform contains a plank to move toward income equality.


It becomes more clear with each passing day that the Democratic Party and those in its leadership are looking out for the interests of working people.  For all the complaints about the surging number of food stamp and Medicaid recipients and how Social Security is headed for insolvency, I haven’t heard any member of the Conservative lobby offer any viable solutions.  I have heard GOP Presidential Candidate Jeb Bush and a couple others advocate raising the retirement age, but is that really in the best interest of a demographic that is only going to increase for the foreseeable future?  With the current federally mandated minimum wage at $7.25/hr, a raise to $15/hr would more than double the amount of payroll and FICA taxes being collected.  It would also help reduce the rolls of those receiving public assistance and allow the true character and productivity of the American working class to regain its luster.  Raising the minimum wage would also do much to ensure the solvency of Social Security going forward for the better part of two decades.

Image by Occupy Democrats

              Image by Occupy Democrats

While raising the federally mandated minimum wage would help move the nation to better income equality, it is but one intervention in a multi-step process toward reducing poverty among working citizens.  Adjusting for inflation, it is all but impossible for one individual let alone a family to subsist on a current minimum wage income in 2015.  Everyone I know who has tried to do so in the past couple of years could not.  Cathy Cummings, our 2014 Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor and her husband Sean actually did an experiment and could not live on minimum wage for one month.  Well, relative to my meager sense of affluence, it was not what I would call “living.”  What their experiment did do was highlight and underscore the plight of the working poor in our community and our state.  What is also did was drive home the point in no uncertain terms that income inequality is NOT a made up or invented problem.  It is real and a reasonable first step to correcting it helping those at the bottom of the pay scale catch up with those at the top.  A $15/hr minimum wage is actually a reasonable proposal toward that end.

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