Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Making the minimum

Do you make the minimum wage? Tough, say Republicans. You won't be getting an increase anytime soon. From the AP:

The Republican-controlled Senate smothered a proposed election-year increase in the minimum wage Wednesday, rejecting Democratic claims that it was past time to boost the $5.15 hourly pay floor that has been in effect for nearly a decade.

The vote was 52 to 46. Now, I'm just speculating here, but I doubt that any of those 52 make $5.15 an hour. As Ted Kennedy noted, that hourly wage amounts to just $10,700 a year, "almost $6,000 below the poverty line for a family of three".

Think about that. $5.15 an hour. That's, like, a grande something-or-other at Starbucks. Or a couple of slices of cheap pizza. Or a couple of bus rides. I don't think I'm a terribly extravagant person, but it's rather easy to blow through the equivalent of US$5.15 in a relatively expensive place like Toronto.

Even if you budget well, even if you're careful with your money, what's $5.15?

Well, that's all some people make. And, to them, $5.15 surely means a lot. Democrats want to help those people, to give them a chance at a decent life, to help them put food on the table and take care of their kids, maybe even save a bit for an increasingly uncertain future.

But Republicans won't even boost the minimum to $5.85.

That's 70 fucking cents, less than a cup of coffee. Even after two years, Kennedy's proposed minimum would only be $7.25. I say only, but I'm not critical of Kennedy. He's doing what he can for those who make the minimum and that extra $2.10 would make a huge difference in their lives.

Republicans rubber stamp Bush's adventures in Iraq and tax cuts for the wealthy even as they ignore the very people who need all the help they can get. These are Americans who are struggling, who are hurting, who are barely making it from day to day. If you still need a reason to vote for the Democrats this coming November, and again in '08, think about those people, the people who don't have millions to spend on lobbyists, who can't cram their agenda through Congress, who don't have a friend in the Oval Office, who don't have a voice in Washington.

And think about $5.15. Take it out of your pocket and look at it. And consider your life on that much an hour. Why allow others to be paid what you'd never want to be paid yourself?

Shame on the GOP.

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