Exposing Republican Ignorance About the Minimum Wage

povertyThe minimum wage debate in this country simply baffles me.   Maybe it hits closer to home because I grew up dirt poor, but probably because the arguments against it are just flat out ridiculous.

A small insight to my childhood.  I was raised by a single mother, who was raising two kids on her own–working 2 jobs.  We had a car that barely worked, clothes that were rarely new, very few “perks” (if any) in life and bills that will be represented by ($A) with my mother’s income which was something around ($A-$100).  Needless to say, each month was a juggle of which bills to pay, and when, so that none of them would be shut off.

This is the circumstance I’m sure millions face every day and a circumstance that many, unless they’ve experienced it, can never understand.  So when someone says something like, “It’s only $40, just pay it,” they don’t understand how it feels to already be pushed to your financial limits, and literally have less money coming in than what is required for monthly expenses.

See, $40 to someone who’s already behind, isn’t really $40.  It’s $40+their current deficit+the deficits accruing by way of their monthly expenses.

I hear two main arguments from Republicans against the minimum wage:

  1. It eliminates jobs
  2. It’s unconstitutional

Well, right out of the gate I’m going to simply dismiss #2.

As Republicans, this notion that they’re the party of “Constitutional values” is laughable.  With each step against abortion (deemed Constitutional in Roe v. Wade), the forced transvaginal probe requirement prior to an abortion or the pre-abortion required sonogram, the push for a ban on same-sex marriage based on religion (which the First Amendment doesn’t allow), the passage of voter ID laws which violate the Voting Rights Act, the push to try and violate the Affordable Care Act law (deemed Constitutional by the Supreme Court), etc…you get the picture.

In each one of these instances, and many more that are similar, Republicans prove that they only love our Constitution when they feel it benefits their ideology.  Whenever our Constitution doesn’t side with their system of beliefs, they don’t hide the fact that they’re willing to violate its laws because they don’t agree with them.

As for #1, it eliminates jobs–are you kidding?  To paraphrase Chris Rock, when someone pays you minimum wage, what they’re saying is they would pay you less, but they’re not legally allowed to.

How do people use this argument with a straight face?  Oh I get it!  If we take one really low paying job, split the hourly wage in half, we can then create two even crappier paying jobs.  That’s a “brilliant” way to boost job creation!

That was sarcasm by the way.

Oh, and a quick side note to address a spin off some use on this argument, “Well most jobs don’t pay minimum wage anyway, so we don’t need it.”  Hey genius, if most jobs pay more than minimum wage anyway–then what’s the point of opposing it?  Oh, and where do you think “above the minimum wage” pay scale was based on?  Oh that’s right, the minimum wage.  It would be lower without it.

But yes, by all means, let’s take the federal minimum hourly wage of $7.25 (I know some states pay more) and reduce it even further.  A wage of $7.25 that, if worked 40 hours a week for 52 weeks, would only garner an individual $15,080 per year before taxes—and would still place a single mother/father below the poverty line with just one child.

Oh, let’s not forget, Republicans also harp about too many Americans relying on government programs.  And it makes perfect sense to lower the minimum wage to help people get off welfare, right?  Just another pair of political stances Republicans support that completely contradict one another.

But back to the argument “it eliminates jobs.”  One argument is that it hurts employment for teenagers as businesses don’t want to hire 16-20 year old individuals with no prior work experience for such a “high wage.”  Some have suggested a tiered system of minimum wage based on age.

So now what, we should use age discrimination to determine pay?  Or we can ignore the fact that many businesses would probably then hire younger people over older individuals, because they could pay them less.  Then, when budgets are tight, who do you think gets more hours—the person making $5.25 an hour or $7.25 an hour?  You don’t think once an individual hits that “age threshold for higher pay” that some businesses might start cutting their hours, or hell, looking for ways to get rid of older employees who cost more?

But let me break down what $7.25 per hour really means–actually, I’ll even take it a step further and use $9.25 an hour:

A single mother or father working 40 hours a week, at 9.25 an hour, would only make $19,240 per year (or $1603 per month) both numbers before taxes.

Let’s assume he/she has 2 kids.  This places them (before taxes) a whopping $150 above the poverty line.  So, even at $2 above our federal minimum wage, this would place a family of 3 barely above the poverty line.

*At $7.25 40 hours x 52 weeks = $15,080 (before taxes) and would place this family of three $4,010 below  the poverty line.

And actually both sets of numbers, for a single parents with 2 children, would qualify them for some kind of government assistance.  So, when Republicans say people who rely on government assistance are lazy moochers, I guess they’re including those who work full-time jobs at lower pay.

So, are people who work full-time jobs lazy?  Are Republicans saying that 40 hours a week isn’t enough, and people should just find a way to work more so that they don’t need to rely on help from the government?

What kind of country is this becoming where millions (many who use government programs by the way–they just excuse their own reliance while judging others) would rather have someone work 50, 60, or 70 hours per week instead of saying, “You know what, businesses need to pay their employees better, so people don’t have to work 60 hours a week just to get by.”

Because if you want to look at a single mother or father, trying to raise their children the best they can, working 40 hours a week and call them lazy, or tell them you believe they should be paid less–you should be ashamed of yourself..

Because I’m damn sure ashamed of you.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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