What does the phrase “working poor” really mean? It applies to the large number of Americans that get up every day and go to work, but still live on the edges of poverty — requiring them to depend on government programs to provide some of the very basic needs of their families (such as adequate nutrition and health care, not to even mention the hope of higher education for their children). And the majority of these workers are not working for small, struggling businesses — most are actually working for large, very profitable corporations (such as retailers and fast food).
Some letters have been published that have described the evils of increasing the minimum wage — they say it raises prices for the rest of us and causes inflation. I can never understand why the first consequence of higher wages is always seen to be higher prices. In this age of the highest corporate profits in the history of the world, why is it the American consumer and the American worker that has to absorb the cost of providing a living wage instead of the very profitable employers?
If wages had matched the increase in the productivity of the American worker then the minimum wage would be over $20/hour. So, since that did not happen, where has the benefit of that increased productivity gone? It has increasingly gone to the profits — which has gone to the share-holders and executives.
As unions were weakened, the ability of workers to negotiate for fair distribution of profits has died.
So while wages have stayed stagnant, the returns to shareholders and executives of these tremendously profitable companies have gone through the roof. So, as they say, the rich have gotten richer and the poor have gotten poorer.
We don’t begrudge the success of these corporations; we just want the average American to also benefit. Just think what a minimum wage increase would mean to a small economy like Payson. A large percentage of our citizens would, all of a sudden, be making more money, which results in more sales, which results in more sales taxes, which results in a more vibrant economy.
Even Henry Ford realized that he needed to pay his workers enough so they could afford to buy his products.
The states that have the highest minimum wages are the states with the most robust economy. It takes money to make money — a basic economic reality.
Since the partial recovery from the recession, 95 percent of the gains have gone to the top 1 percent, and that same 1 percent of Americans possess nearly 25 percent of the wealth of our nation. Does this seem fair?