A Fair Day’s Pay (for a fair day’s work.) in the USA

This seems very long ago and far away:

A Fair Day’s Pay for a Fair Day’s Work

Franklin D. Roosevelt

May 24, 1937

….  Our nation so richly endowed with natural resources and with a capable and industrious population should be able to devise ways and means of insuring to all our able-bodied working men and women a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.  A self-supporting and self-respecting democracy can plead no justification for the existence of child labor, no economic reason for chiseling workers’ wages or stretching workers’ hours.

 Enlightened business is learning that competition ought not to cause bad social consequences, which inevitably react upon the profits of business itself.  All but the hopelessly reactionary will agree that to conserve our primary resources of man power, government must have some control over maximum hours, minimum wages, the evil of child labor and the exploitation of unorganized labor………[link]

… In his recent  State of the Union  address, President Obama called on Congress to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 an hour and to link the future increases to inflation. He noted that  a family with two children that works full time and takes home the current minimum wage is still living  below the poverty line. He insisted that  “in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty.” Higher wages, the president said, “could mean the difference between groceries or the food bank; rent or eviction; scraping by or finally getting ahead.” And for businesses across the country, it would mean “customers with more money in their pockets,” which translates into the simple fact that “our economy is stronger when we reward an honest day’s work with honest wages.”

As if to prove that not a lot  has been learned in 66  years that has elapsed , Obama’s call for an these increases  has elicited a somewhat similar response from conservative Republicans as FDR’s did, with House Speaker John Boehner saying that an increase is “a job killer,” and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan calling it “inflationary” and “counter-productive.” Some Republican leaders, such as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, have even gone so far as to advocate doing away with minimum wage/maximum hours laws altogether, a move that would no doubt be applauded by Rush Limbaugh .

The National Federation of Independent Business, with a membership of 350,000, calls  the minimum wage as “more like maximum insanity.”

All the opposition ignore the fact that study after study have shown the raising the minimum wage has been good for both the economy and business overall.  This is because every raise increases the purchasing power of the American consumer. Conservatives are so wedded to their belief that the state should not interfere in the workplace in any way that they refuse see the benefits. Andrew S. Ross, in recent  article for the The San Francisco Chronicle,  pointed out that 19 states an the District of Columbia were all  already paying above the current $7.25 and that none appeared to be going out  of business.

 Business in San Francisco doesn’t appear to be suffering from the fact the city has the highest minimum wage – $10.55 – in the nation.

“You can’t continue to build an economy on the backs of low-paid workers,”said Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, who introduced the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013  earlier this month. Roughly half of Republicans — and 71 percent of Americans overall — support rise  $9 per hour, according to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center and USA Today. This suggests that maybe in 66 years  some lessons have been learned after all.

Advertisements