Thursday, January 25, 2007


There is the fact that raising the minimum wage is the right thing to do. And there is the fact that raising the minimum wage is the right thing to do politically. So how do 28 US Senators end up voting for a bill that would eliminate the Federal minimum wage? How politically tone deaf do you have to be? How wrongheaded do you have to be? Oh, and by the way, John McCain voted to end the Federal minimum wage. If I don't hear that repeatedly during the campaign I'm going to scream.

Eliminating the Federal minimum wage would have the lowest allowable wage revert to the state minimum wage for each of the states. For instance the state minimum wage in Kansas is $2.65. There are 28 people in the US Senatethat believe families in Kansas should live on $2.65. And you wonder why we don't have balanced federal budgets, 28 people have no fucking clue what it costs to be alive in this country in this year. I feel like Bill Cosby trying to explain to Theo how money works. Except instead of a wayward teenager on a sitcom, I'm trying to explain this to more than 25% of the most esteemed legislative body in the world. Sweet.

We're going to examine two examples. The first is a guy who is living alone and working in Kansas. He has no dependents, just him. He works 40 hours a week, and never misses a day and never takes a vacation. Meaning he works 40 hours at $2.65 for 52 weeks. That means, not considering state local taxes, that he earns a grand total of 5512 dollars a year. Again that's working full time, never missing a day, never being sick. Just $5500. Sorry, $5512, I shouldn't short change this guy his 12 bucks afterall that represents more than half a days worth of work for him (4.5 hours to be exact). According to HHS the 2007 the Federal Poverty line for a single adult is $10,210. You'll note that this gentleman makes less than that. How much less? The unscientific answer is a moral-crisis-inducing call-Sally-Struthers-to-sponsor-this-full-time-working-guy amount. The more scientific answer is: $4698. So for our guy to climb up the economic ladder and become poor, he'd need to work another 34 hours a week at his job. The plus side of this scenario, the 74 hour work week, is that by being at work all the damn time you really save on the cost of housing.

Let's look at another example. In this one our single guy decides to get married, and he and his wife start a family and have two kids. Hooray! The miracle of life, etc. After the kids are born, oh and neither parent took off time for the birth, couldn't afford to. Instead they just went to the home and garden aisel in Wal-Mart and got some gardening gloves and well you know. So these two parents live near inlaws who raise the kids. And both parents work full time, both making 2.65 an hour. What do they make in a year? A robust $11,024. Now I realize with dependents there are tax advantages, etc. But we're talking about four people living on $11,024. In this case the poverty line is miles away. The poverty line for a family of four is $20,650. They're 9,626 dollars away from that. Meaning that each of the parents has to work 74 hours a week, and even then they're 256 dollars short. It's okay, making up those $256 dollars only requires each of them to work an additional 48 hours. That's barely anything.

There are times when I can believe that there are true ideological differences between political opponents. That there are times when the differences are not between right and wrong or good and bad but between two competing ideas about how to make the world better. I cannot continue to believe that in this case. Voting to get rid of the federal minimum wage is just wrong. In Kansas there are 27,000 people who currently earn the minimum wage. I will make a promise to any of those 28 Senators. If they will go to Kansas and tell a worker earning the minimum wage that she is being overpaid and that the best thing for this country would be for her to take home half next year as this year, I will gladly pay for their time. Let's see 28 x 2.65, yeah I can swing that.

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