Friday, May 20, 2005

What's Wrong with THIS Picture?

For the past 8 years Congress has seen fit not to raise the federal minimum wage. It seems that insuring that the lowest paid workers are able to eke out a meager existence is not high on the Congressional agenda. While a lot could be said about this sad non-development, what is far more informative is to take a look at the raises that OUR senators and representatives have approved for THEMSELVES.

According to CRS Report 97-1011, for the years 1980 - 2005, our federal legislators have approved 17 pay hikes for each other representing an overall increase in their own compensation of 167%. Currently, each senator and representative is paid $162,100 per year ($13,508.33 per month). Taken altogether, taxpayers are putting out slightly more than $8.67 million per year.

Compare this to the fate of the federal minimum wage. According to the US Department of Labor, Congress has only approved 6 rate hikes during the same period for an overall increase of 78% -- less than 1/2 of what they've approved for themselves! While our congressional legislators pull down over $13,000 per month, a full-time worker paid the federal minimum wage will only gross about $886.00 per month.

While the above statistics may seem startling, in the period from 1997-2005, they are even worse. During that period, the minimum wage has remained stagnant while Congressional pay has increased 7 TIMES! If we expressed this ratio as a baseball score, we'd say the Washington team whitewashed the "visitors" 7-0.

So, I ask you, what's wrong with this picture?

[Note: The citations provided come from Yes! Magazine.]


  1. There is nothing wrong with that picture. A minimum wage is paid for minimum skills and should not increase without an increase of skill. This is a free country and minimum wage jobs are not meant to be a career objective. Who in high school has set their goals to stay in a minimum wage occupation?

    If a person chooses not to improve their skills, chooses not to drive themselves to become something better then that is their choice.

    Increasing the minimum wage is just plain stupid and no one ever gets ahead of the game. I'm sure you think the money to pay such increases just magically appears but it does not. There have been businesses that have closed in Eugene due to the absurd high Oregon minimum wage - much higher than that of the federal government. Businesses would have to pass that additional cost to consumers (or whoever uses their products or services) and they become that much less competitive.

    Simple economics - simple business 101.

  2. There are so many things wrong about your comment that I don't know where to start.

    First, regardless of whether or not a minimum wage job is a life dream, such workers should AT LEAST be able to make ends meet. Because they can't, you and I end up subsidizing them through government programs paid for with OUR tax dollars.

    Second, with so many living wage jobs being shipped overseas, there are far too many people with mucho experience and advanced degrees who are forced into minimum wage work. So much for the idea of trying to get ahead!

    Third, businesses go bankrupt every day for a multitude of reasons. Studies done in both New Jersey & Oregon after increases in the state minimum wage simply don't bear out your point. In neither state was there an increase in businesses hanging it up.

  3. such workers should AT LEAST be able to make ends meet - then they should work to improve their skills and get a higher paying job - not my problem, theirs!

    with so many living wage jobs being shipped overseas - because of overpaid union workers or idiots that keep trying to raise the minimum wage. It's cheaper for business to have the same work done by appreciative workers overseas.

    The owners of the businesses that have quit in Eugene that I refered to quit for the primary reason of the excessive minimum wage - not for a multitude of reasons.

    I'd respectfully suggest you take a simple business class at your local community college!

  4. Mr. Dog,
    I truly feel sorry for you. You seem SO focused on yourself that you don't seem to care about anyone else. You, of course, can choose to live your life that way -- I choose to be concerned about all of my neighbors.

    And, of course, it's cheaper to pay people less than a dollar per day overseas. In a nation where, say, $1000 per year is the average wage it makes sense that earning $1500 a year would seem like a godsend.

    But exploitation is never a good thing!

  5. Why should I care about those that don't care about themselves?

    NO BODY forces people in this country to work in a job they don't want to do. If they are being forced I'd be the first to turn in that employer.

    I do not feel sorry for anyone that is lazy, that makes the choice to not better themselves, etc. I do support anyone that tries, that makes an effort, that goes to work 2 jobs if needed and school at night (as I did). Yeah, it requires an effort - but those are the types of people I support - not the lazy no-good types.

    You say exploitation is never a good thing but you don't hesitate to exploit the store owner or the employer to get more money out of him/her with nothing in return. Can't have it both ways!

    Now go find a lazy bumm and hand him a buck so you can feel cozy within yourself!

  6. This is a common misnomer -- the idea that ONLY poor people are lazy. Laziness is a personal attribute that affects people regardless of their gender, age,religion, race or FINANCIAL situation.

    There are many poor people who are lazy and who take advantage of the system. You'll get no arguments from me on this point.

    However, there are many rich people who are lazy. They are born into wealth and basically fritter their lives away being unproductive. In other words, rather than INCREASE what they've been given, they waste it on self gluttony and sloth.

    Expecting a store owner or business to pay FAIR wages for the work people do for them (which often makes the business owner wealthy through the efforts of others) can in no way be considered a form of alienation.

    You need to grab a dictionary and look up the word.

  7. Trey, Trey, Trey ..... do you REALLY think that a US Senator and a burger flipper at McDonalds should be equally compensated? If that were reality anywhere in the world likely no one would invest the time and effort to prepare themselves to perform the various kinds of work that are highly compensated. Your implied notion of universal pay equality also implies a level playing field of knowledge, skills and abilities that simply does not exist. In this life, the poor will always be with us. I know you do not like the notion of pulling oneself up by their bootstraps and being rewarded for their sweat equity, but such is the reality of life. Nothing is wrong with this picture. Are you aware of a society characterized by the equal distribution of wealth anywhere on the planet?


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