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Letter to the Editor: Minimum wage increase needed now

on December 11, 2013 10:20 AM

How did we get to the point where 47 percent of our workforce is living at or below the poverty level? Sending manufacturing jobs overseas and automation taking jobs are only part of the story.

The main problem is “corporate welfare” or taxpayers having to supplement the wages of workers who are not being paid enough. Walmart, for example, soaks taxpayers for $1,700 to $2,100 a year for every one of its employees, to make up for the inadequate wages Walmart pays.

These jobs behind the cash register are all that’s left for low-skilled workers and, during an economic slump, the young college-educated often have no other choices. Our economy is more and more a service economy with 53 percent of the workforce subsidizing the other 47 percent of the workforce.

Abuse of welfare programs by people behind the cash register or the people who own the cash register doesn’t matter at this point. Politicians have failed to adjust for jobs lost and low wages, so they now have to provide the solution. A minimum wage law would solve many problems at one time: income inequality, debt reduction, job creation, reduction of the need for food stamps, putting the 47 percent on the income tax rolls and taking people off taxpayer-funded health care.

Wages over the past 30 years have been stagnant. “Trickle Down” economics has served the 1 percent well but has been a disaster for the middle class. Unions used to force wages of all middle class workers to a level that would support families. With unions now being killed by states, it falls to politicians to raise the minimum wage, not by $3 an hour, but by $3 an hour for three or four years in a row.

We know which party is most likely to fix this problem; hence, the importance of the 2014 election. States and cities are trying to raise wages but it won’t solve our problems nationally without central government’s direct intervention.

With tea party Republicans controlling the House, we know nothing will get done. The president is right when he recently said that great things only get done when one party controls all branches of government. It’s time to put “trickle down” in the dust bin. It’s time to stop pretending that we need less government control. It’s time to govern for the people. It’s time to isolate conservative ideologies to a few Southern states.

Everett Dembosky

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