Since the 1980’s, the gap between the rich and the poor has widened steadily and is currently greater than any time since 1928 — just prior to the stock market crash and the onset of the greatest depression in American history. Since 1979, the wages of the lowest 2% of earners have increased by 46%, while the top 1% of earners have increased their income by almost 200%. It is clearly time for an increase in the minimum wage.
There was a time in the middle of the twentieth century when the American Dream seemed within reach of a large portion of the population. But that’s no longer the case. In an economy where the working poor require government assistance to make ends meet and Walmart cashiers are using food stamps to pay for groceries, upward mobility is available almost solely to those who are already near the top of the scale. The American Dream has been replaced with a sense of insecurity and the feeling that the best one can hope for is survival.
That needs to change immediately.
We hear a lot of talk about Family Values. When Republicans talk about it, they’re referring to the protection of children from sexual content or from something related to drugs or coarse language. But, to my mind, Family Values are those things that contribute to keeping families together and healthy and moving toward more productive lives and fulfilling lives for succeeding generations.
In my opinion, food security is a family value; availability of good, affordable healthcare is a family value; excellent, free public education is a family value; and a family wage that promotes food security, good health and equal opportunity for survival and potential improvement is a family value.
The case here is simple. The minimum hourly wage that anyone should receive is $15 per hour. That’s $31,200, before taxes — $2,600/month. Take home pay is certainly less than $2,200. Rents vary by region, but here in San Diego, average rental for a one-bedroom is more than $1,600. Nationally $1,000 might be more realistic. Let’s say that utilities (not internet or cable) cost $100. That leaves $900 to pay for transportation, clothes, food, internet, cable, entertainment, etc. . . . You get the picture. In a civilized society, no one should live below this level.
If we raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, the rest of the economy will respond and all wages will adjust appropriately. Furthermore, it stimulates the economy. When minimum wage workers buy goods and services it drives production and sensible growth.
My objective is to increase the overall value of our workers. To do this, we will be required to make investments in education and re-education that will help workers learn new skills for the modern economy.