The minimum wage increase to $15 per hour is essentially dead in the water … for the moment. I saw a comment from a woman in the state of Washington that every member of Congress should be forced to answer …
“I live in Eastern Washington state and we are fortunate to have a much higher minimum wage for our workers. Our neighbors in Idaho are not so lucky. Many people who are able to live in Idaho work in Washington to benefit from the higher wage. The wage a person earns should be equal to the amount of effort that is required to do the work. I would really like to know though why our politicians think they deserve to make so much money. They say they care about the average worker and want a better life for all Americans, but when was the last time they tried to live on minimum wage?”
She makes excellent points, especially when you consider the fact that nearly half the members of Congress are millionaires! Many members of Congress live in wealthy enclaves, use expensive healthcare services, and send their children to private or high-income schools. Never once in their lives have they had to put something back at the grocery store because the total came to more than they had. Never once have they had to make a choice between paying the rent or the electric bill. Never once have they lived, even for a single week, in poverty. Never once have they watched through tear-filled eyes as the repo man took their car away. And yet, these are the people who make the decisions about our lives.
The current minimum wage of $7.25 equates to $15,080 per year. The lowest paid member of Congress ‘earns’ $174,000 per year, which equates to $83.65 per hour, or 12 times what the minimum wage earner makes. Think about that one for a few minutes.
Time in Washington is disproportionately spent fixated on the needs and desires of America’s wealthiest citizens, for they are the donors on which politicians’ campaigns rely. I have said before that I think every candidate running for a seat in Congress should have to spend one full month in public housing, paid $7.25 per hour for a 40-hour week, and have zero access to their own money or resources. I think it would be a tremendous eye-opener for many who have spent far too long in ivory towers and cannot possibly understand the challenges most of us face every day.
Amazing, isn’t it, that with the country deep in debt ($28 trillion), Congress was able to find it in their hearts to pass a tax cut benefiting almost exclusively the wealthy, but they cannot find it in their heart to increase the minimum wage that has remained stagnant for twelve years now, despite consistent increases in the cost of living!
Today, the Senate began debate on the pandemic relief bill that was passed by the House on Wednesday night. The bill would provide a payment of $1,400 to individuals earning under $75,000 and families earning under $150,000. Personally, I think those limits are too high and it should be reserved for those who are truly struggling … a family earning $150,000 is hardly struggling. But to the point, the republicans in the Senate are against the bill, they want it to be far less, saying that the economy is coming back, people are going back to work, therefore they don’t need that much. Tell that to the mother of three who is about to be evicted from her home because she can’t pay the rent!
Republican senators plan to delay passage of the bill by proposing numerous amendments, forcing valuable time to be spent debating each amendment, then voting on it. Yesterday, thanks to Senator Ron Johnson, valuable time was wasted by forcing clerks to read the entire 628-page bill aloud to an audience of one – Senator Johnson. Some people, meanwhile, cannot pay their electric bill and are in danger of having their electricity shut off. The 535 members of Congress have never been in that situation and therefore cannot comprehend what it’s like. I have been there and worse, and likely many of you have been too, but the people we elect and whose salaries we pay have no idea what being poor means. They are blind to how the people they say they represent live, and yet they arrogantly say that $7.25 is enough for a family to live on, that the same family does not need a $1,400 stimulus payment.
A word of caution to members of Congress in both parties – keep up the delaying tactics, keep pushing the poor further and further into poverty, and there will be a price to pay. Enough is enough, and We the People are sick of their greed and arrogance at our expense. Some claim the U.S. is a democracy – it isn’t. It is a plutocracy: government by the wealthy.