Katie Zerr: Wage would be raised if Congress made $14,000 per year


The minimum wage debate rages on in the United States with both sides presenting valid arguments on which they base opinions on the matter.

Proponents say by raising the minimum wage paid to workers, we can win the battle against poverty as there will be more money available to purchase goods and services. It is a simple but effective argument.

Opponents say that paying more to those who work the front lines will have a negative impact on the economy including job loss. They say paying more will force companies to cut back on employees’ hours and cut jobs.

The minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. Considering that in 2012, the cost of child care in the U.S. grew up to eight times faster than family income paid to child care centers and family child care homes, not many people on minimum wage can afford childcare. In South Dakota the minimum cost for an infant for a year is $5,947. A 40-hour a week, minimum-wage employee receives just under $14,000 before taxes. Subtract nearly $6,000 for just one child in daycare and that does not leave much to purchase the necessities of life.

As we listen to companies complain long and hard about having to pay more than $7.25 per hour to those people who make them profitable, one needs to look at what their costs of goods and services are to their customers (including their employees).

A Big Mac meal at McDonald’s averages nearly $6. That leaves $1.25 left from an hour’s work on minimum wage.

The price of a gallon of gas in Mobridge is $3.25. A minimum wage worker driving a small vehicle would have to work nearly seven hours to fill a 15-gallon tank.

When is the last time you picked up an item in the grocery store and noticed it cost less than in a previous purchase? It rarely happens. In fact the cost of staples like milk, meat and cereal continue to climb.

The minimum wage under Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 was actually 18 percent higher than it is today, adjusted for inflation.

Henry Ford understood the crucial connection between worker wages and consumer demand. In 1914, he doubled the average autoworker’s pay and reduced their workday to eight hours in order to cut turnover and enable them to afford to buy the Model T.

Isn’t it counterproductive to pay wages that make purchases of most goods and service near impossible?

Wouldn’t raising the minimum wage boost consumer demand?

If keeping wages low were the answer, wouldn’t we have a thriving and healthy economy right now?

Those people who complain about raising the minimum wage for their employees should live for two weeks on what they pay their employees.

That may change their minds about minimum wage.

For members of Congress the average salary is $174,000. They also, however, receive a host of additional benefits that put their total annual compensation at about $285,000.

These members who are so adamant about leaving the minimum wage as it stands should have to experience what it is like to live on less the $14,000 a year.

These are the same voices that go on and on about government programs such as food stamps. If they would have to live on what others do, it wouldn’t be long before they, too, would be forced to look for help in order to survive.

Public opinion polls show wide support for raising the minimum wage. In November 2013, a Gallop Poll showed 76 percent of Americans supported raising the minimum wage to $9 per hour.

Why is it that Congress won’t support what the majority wants?

Maybe it is because taxpayers may pay the base salary, but others pay the money that makes Congress millionaires.




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