Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Wage wars
Everybody knows that raising the minimum wage would help a relatively few American workers, most of them teenagers and part-time employees. It would result in job losses and discourage companies from creating new jobs, ultimately leading to higher unemployment. And it would hurt small businesses.

Wrong, wrong and wrong, according to Media Matters. The media watchdog examined those frequently reported "facts" and found that none are true. In fact, citing numerous state and federal studies, Media Matters showed that payrolls and job growth went up and unemployment went down in states that increased the minimum wage in recent years compared to states that didn't. Similarly, a study by the Economic Policy Institute showed that a majority of minimum-wage workers are full time. And a study by the Fiscal Policy Institute showed that the number of small businesses grew twice as quickly in states with higher minimum wages than in other states. A March 2006 Gallup poll showed that a majority of small business owners agree a hike in the minimum wage wouldn't hurt them.

All of which is probably why republican representatives Ed Whitfield, Geoff Davis and Harold Rogers joined democrats John Yarmuth and Ben Chandler and Hoosiers Brad Ellsworth and Baron Hill in voting last week to raise the federal minimum wage from its current rice-and-cardboard $5.15 an hour to a tasty rice-and-beans $7.25 an hour by 2009. Ron Lewis (R-Hellbound) was the only local representative who voted against the measure.

Despite overwhelming public support for the increase, it still faces considerable opposition in the Senate, that august body known for carefully deliberating a topic, ensuring that uneducated, sick, hungry (and/or obese – the new hungry) children dangle needlessly in misery. The White House, of course, opposes the measure, citing, "mmmpf," which is the sound of speech coming from a head that is perpetually up one's own ass.

So, why is the minimum-wage issue clouded by so much of what Princeton University philosopher Harry G. Frankfurt refers to in his book "On Bullshit" as "bullshit?" Maybe this is a clue: While remaining open to the idea of an increase, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell trotted out the truthiness that Media Matters debunked, and demanded tax and regulatory concessions to Big Business in exchange for the wage increase, adding "pfpfmmmfm," which is the sound of speech coming from a head that is perpetually up large corporations' asses.