April 30, 2014
Since 2009 the federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25.
Most of the members of the U.S. Congress are millionaires and do not have a clue what it is like to exist on minimum wage.
Minimum wage families work two and even three minimum wage jobs just to pay bills. One poverty level minimum wage job is equivalent to $15,080 a year.
I work part-time at an Orlando theme park on weekends with several other teachers who have part-time jobs. Most of my fellow co-workers are college-age young people who earn minimum wage or under $10 an hour. I listen to them talk about having to take the bus because they ran out of gas money; having to eat one meal a day for two days before pay day; having no cash for the movies or to go out to eat; having to take toilet paper from public bathrooms to bring home; using tubes of Ambesol gum numbing medicine because they cannot afford to go to the dentist and on and on.
The members of Congress who voted against raising the minimum wage do not have a clue. They also have hearts a few sizes too small.
What can you buy for $7.25? Not quite 2 gallons of gas, maybe a meal at a fast food restaurant or a couple of personal hygiene products. A person would have to spend half of a full week's wages to pay a $150 utility bill. Three weeks' salary could pay for a cheap studio apartment.
According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, increasing the minimum wage would "raise the wages of 16.5 million Americans and lift 900,000 of them out of poverty."
The Republican's argument that business owners cannot absorb the rate increase and 500,000 jobs would be eliminated is not based on fact. Twenty-three states currently have minimum wages that are higher than the federal rate. Hawaii raised the hourly minimum wage to $10.10. California's hourly minimum wage is $9.00, Oregon's is $9.10 Minnesota's will reach $9.50 in 2016, Connecticut's minimum wage will be $10.10 by 2017. Even Florida's minimum wage of $7.93 per hour is slightly higher than the federal rate.
In 2013 House Republicans voted unanimously to oppose a federal minimum wage increase. How stupid that Republicans from states where state minimum wage rates exceed the federal minimum wage voted against raising the federal minimum wage.
I wonder how many of the 16.5 million Americans who earn minimum wage will vote for a Republican in the next election?