Over 20 States To Raise Minimum Wage In 2022; None Of Which Being A Living Wage



Written By: Anton Sawyer


Over 20 States To Raise Minimum Wage In 2022; None Of Which Being A Living Wage


And the poor will continue to bear the brunt of American arrogance and lack of knowledge …


It seems that the lawmakers of America have decided to increase the minimum wage in over 20 states for the year 2022. This is the good news.


The bad news is the fact that not a single one of these states is increasing to that of a living wage, thereby perpetuating the giant income inequality chasm we enjoy here in the US. This increase, destined to fail out of the gate, is going to be the topic of scrutiny in the article today, along with what it would take to bring the middle-class/working class to a level of prosperity. From what minimum wage is supposed to be, to the reasons being given by those political leaders in charge that are not based in reality, everything will be examined. Spoiler alert: none of it looks good for those who aren’t already wealthy.



 

In an attempt to maintain complete transparency, all research and statistical fact-checking for all articles can be found in the bibliography linked here.


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It needs to be stated that though most of the quotes and statistics given in this piece do put a negative slant on the conservatives, the liberals are just as much to blame for the mess America finds itself with the poor getting poorer. This inequality canyon has been developing since the early 1980s and given how many times we have had liberals in control of the House, Senate, Presidency, and any combination thereof, it’s absurd to think that their (in)actions wouldn’t wreak havoc. The greatest example of recent memory that I could point to in this assertion comes from Democratic Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema. Do we not recall her cute little thumbs-down vote when it came to raising the minimum wage in March of 2021? I certainly do.


Now that we’ve leveled the playing field a bit, let’s take a brief look at what minimum wage in America was meant to be.


With a third of our nation starving in the streets during The Great Depression, former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt knew that one of the major ways to lift people out of poverty is by ensuring that if they put in a 40-hour workweek, they will be able to provide for their families. As he stated on June 16, 1933: "It seems to me to be equally plain that no business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country. By 'business' I mean the whole of commerce as well as the whole of industry; by workers, I mean all workers, the white-collar class as well as the men in overalls; and by living wages, I mean more than a bare subsistence level–I mean the wages of decent living."


Anytime someone tries to sell you on the fact that the federal minimum wage wasn’t meant to be a living wage, they are lying to you and more than likely have some kind of benefit in keeping minimum wages as low as possible.


It was these naysayers that forced the hand of Roosevelt to get creative when they had done everything–in a legal sense–they could prevent FDR’s vision from coming to fruition. After congressional legislation that would allow the President to establish a national minimum wage was blocked by the Supreme Court in 1935, President Roosevelt sought to increase the wages of federal contract workers as the first step towards a national minimum wage. This lead to the slippery slope of branching out into other industries, until eventually, the side of the public was so overwhelmingly behind Roosevelt’s minimum wage initiative that it forced businesses and legislators to act in favor of this new economic program.


Those who say that the federal minimum wage wasn’t meant to be a living one often ignore the fact that for the first few decades of minimum wage being in effect, it was raised by Congress to keep pace with inflation (thereby keeping it a living wage). Per the Department of Labor, from 1945 to 1967 minimum wage was increased seven times from $.40 to $1.60–a 300% increase. If you look at the same time frame currently, 1999 to 2021, it has been increased three times from $5.85 to $7.25–a 23.93% increase.


For those of you that hate numbers, all this translates into the middle/working classes getting screwed over magnanimously.


This leads to the question of, where should we be at?


Though the “fight for $15” is a noble cause, it isn’t enough, sadly. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), put together a living wage calculator and determined in 2019 that a living wage would be $16.54 per hour (per person) or $68,808 (per couple) per year, before taxes for a family of four (two working adults, two children). But if you think about it, if we were to go back to 1963 (a time when America was considered “great” by some), and you looked at a single-income household as the sole breadwinner, those numbers translate to a single adult making approximately $33 per hour in 2021.


This all begs the question as to how American’s have been allowing these numbers to drop so drastically for so long?


In the case of the liberals, it’s not being uneducated as to what needs to be done. For the legislators, they will typically choose between coming up short in an attempt to secure either a moral or political victory (which to them is often one-and-the-same) or that they are beholden to some entity that is helping force their hand into a down-vote; neither one shows genuine concern for their poorer constituents. To be honest, when it comes to Sinema, I haven’t been able to figure out which of the two sides she’s playing.


Conversely, you’ve got the GOP who is more than happy to tell you why they oppose minimum wage increases: they just want to help the mom-and-pop “little guy.” A good example is from former Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner, when he said in 2013, “When it comes to the federal minimum wage–listen, I used to be an employee–when you raise the cost of something, you get less of it. And we know from increases in the minimum wage in the past that hundreds of thousands of low-income Americans have lost their jobs.” Current Minority Senate Leader, Republican Mitch McConnell, has also made statements in the past supporting the little guy by citing a Congressional Budget Office study that he claimed said raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would "destroy half a million to 1 million jobs."


Both of these reasonings by McConnell and Boehner have been thoroughly debunked time and time again. One of the most telling statements was made in March 2021. A top executive at Denny's told investors that gradual increases in the minimum wage haven't been a problem for the company at all. In fact, California's law raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2023 has actually been good for the diner chain's business, according to Denny's chief financial officer, Robert Verostek. Also, McDonald's told the National Restaurant Association in January 2019 that it would no longer participate in the group's lobbying efforts to oppose increases to the minimum wage at the federal, state, or local level. McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski told investors at the time that the company "developed quite a bit of experience" with minimum wage hikes at the state level, and they haven't been a problem. "Our view is the minimum wage is most likely going to be increasing whether that's federally or at the state level as I referenced, and so long as it's done ... in a staged way and in a way that is equitable for everybody, McDonald's will do just fine through that," Kempczinski said.


Now that we have all the facts together, it is with much regret that I write that there is not a single state who is going to increase its state-level minimum wage to that of a living one. New York comes close at $15, and there are others hovering around that amount, but nothing over it. This means that in 2022, in the “most economically prosperous time in our nation’s history” (if we just look at the Dow Jones and other Stock Market numbers), there will not be a single state in the country that has legislation requiring that their constituents are paid a living wage.


This is not the America I was raised to believe in. This is not the “Schoolhouse Rocks” version of the US that was presented to me as a child. What makes the thought of these levels of misdirections used by those who literally control the purse strings for the backbone of the nation even more horrific is in one last study I want to mention. A 2020 study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community found that raising the minimum wage by only one dollar could lead to a 3.5% to 5.9% drop in suicide rates among people with a high school education or less. Given that we are seeing pandemic numbers of suicides in the States, perhaps this would be enough of a justifier to raise the wages?


Oh, that’s right, this entire piece has been about America, where there’s more money to be made off the sick and the dead. My apologies.

 

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