Saturday, July 29, 2006

Way to go, Chicago!

At least one city is doing something about Congress's lack of compassion and response to raising the minimum wage (while granting themselves a higher salary). Chicago's city council has passed an ordinance that requires big retailers (like Wal-mart and Home Depot) to ultimately pay a minimum of $10/hour plus $3/hour worth of beneifts to their employees by 2010 and then it would be indexed for inflation after that (it would start out with $9.25 per hour and $1.50 per hour in benefits by 2007). It still only amounts to $20,800 before taxes, but it's much better than $5.25/hour. Of course, all of this depends on if the mayor vetoes or not...and he hasn't decided just yet.

What makes no sense to me is why these large businesses get so upset about things like this. I gather it is because raising someone's less-than-poverty wage might shave a little off of their billions of dollars of profit each year. How can we, who are making so much more money, be so offended by taking a couple of thousand dollars off of our much larger salaries? We aren't talking about people who are sitting around sponging off the "system." We are talking about people who are working 40 hours a week (and sometimes holding down second jobs) just to make ends meet. Yet, because they don't make enough money, they are having to utilize the system! ...at no fault of their own!! It refutes the age-old "poor people are lazy" mantra so many like to profess.

I say AMEN to Chicago's big company policy. I hope others (including Congress) follow suit! Other research (Florida just raised their minimum wage) shows that raising the minimum wage does not hurt people like everyone claims. In fact, it helps the economy because it gives people more money to spend!

Please think about this as you talk to your friends, neighbors, and legislators today.

Note to the above graphic: Currently, it would take $9.28/hour for a family of four to break even with the poverty line. Even then, the family of four would only be making $19,307 per year.
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