Monday, March 27, 2006

Globe Watch: Best Op-Ed in a Long Time

Thanks, Boston Globe, for writing an extremely important Editorial today. Here are some key points:

The idea that a person can be working full time and still be living under the poverty line -- a reality for millions of Americans -- is a national shame. But for workers in wealthy Massachusetts to be earning sub-poverty wages is a sin. Today's minimum wage, which has not been adjusted since 2001, leaves a full-time worker $2,560 below the $16,600 annual poverty line for a family of three.

A bill to raise the minimum wage by $1.50 an hour over two years has been stalled in the Legislature, where discredited old arguments about negative effects on job growth are heard.

There is no evidence that the last four increases in the minimum wage led to large job losses. Unemployment has gone up recently in Massachusetts, but the economic sectors most affected by the minimum wage -- hospitality, leisure, and health services -- are growing, and few economists project a reversal due to wage increases.

Contrary to the claims of opponents, the minimum wage is not confined to teenagers with after-school jobs. According to the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, a nonpartisan think tank, 154,000 people in the state are earning less than the proposed $8.25 right now. Another 329,000 would also benefit from an increase because of ripple effects. Many of them are the sole breadwinners in their families, and 59 percent are women.

A minimum wage increase is one of the most important things this country can do right now, a central tenets of progressives. The current minimum wage disproportionately affects women and children. The Globe didn't put this in their editorial, but half the children in this country living in poverty (and there are more than 10 million of them) have at least one parent working full time.

If people work, they deserve to make a living, a no-brainer if I've ever seen one. It doesn't cost jobs, it won't put businesses out of business and Wal-Mart won't have to start selling ten dollar candy bars. Instead, families will start to be able to get by and people will be able to spend more money, directly helping the economy. Study after study has shown that increasing the minimum wage in small increments makes sense.

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