Once again a bunch of politicians, looking for an election-year edge, have ginned up a massive campaign around another divisive social issue. The usual hallmarks are there: congressional bills that have little chance of passing, passionate declarations of principle, base-motivating ballot initiatives in targeted states. You know the drill.
So who’s teh gay? The minimum wage:
Democrats, seeking to energize voters over economic issues in much the way that Republicans have rallied conservatives with efforts to ban same-sex marriage, have begun a broad campaign to raise the minimum wage and focus attention on income inequality.[…] With midterm elections less than four months away, Democrats have begun state ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage in more than a half-dozen states where Republicans are in danger of losing House or Senate seats.
The issue is playing a role in Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Arizona — all states where Republican senators are fighting for survival.
Pressure is so high in Ohio that Senator Mike DeWine broke ranks with fellow Republicans last month and voted for a Democratic bill that would have raised the minimum wage to $7.15 an hour. The measure received 52 votes, a majority, but not the 60 votes needed to prevent a filibuster.
Democratic leaders in Congress are closely coordinating their efforts in Washington with campaigns in critical races around the country. Democratic lawmakers say they will try to block what is normally an automatic pay increase for members of Congress until Republicans agree to raise the federal minimum wage.
What a relief to see a wedge issue with some social relevance for a change. For eight years inflation has chipped away at the already-meager $5.15 minimum wage to the point where minimum earners with a single job cannot possibly support themselves, let alone a child, and healthcare is a distant dream. This basic fact led conservative Charles Murray to correctly point out in Losing Ground (useful review here) that such a person is often better off on welfare because of the “benefits” that welfare provides. Murray idiotically follows up by arguing that we should fix the disparity by making welfare more punitive when the more obvious choice is to give American workers a decent chance at a livable life.
Proponents of the minimum wage hike should be lucky enough to have anti-minimum wage hike politicians as tone-deaf as Tom DeLay, justifying his own pay hike thusly:
“It’s not a pay raise,” said House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas. “It’s an adjustment so that they’re [we’re – ed.] not losing their [our] purchasing power.”
God forbid politicians should give the same consideration to the people they represent.
In a similar vein, this is hilarious.