People earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 aren’t going out to eat at restaurants because they can’t afford to do so. That’s pretty much true for those who make higher state minimum wages of nine and ten dollars an hours. These people are not taking yoga, piano, or karate lessons. They don’t belong to gyms, and they don’t take part in yoga classes. They purchase few if any new books, and buy clothes at second hand stores, like the local Goodwill. They don’t buy flowers for their mother’s on mother’s day. They’re not purchasing new computers, cameras, tables, chairs, carpets, washing machines, dryers, I-phones, cars, organic food, or houses. They’re not buying a lot of other things.
What good are these people to the economy, other than to provide rich people with cheap labor? Like the idle rich, minimum wage workers barely stimulate demand for goods and services.
What do low wages have to do to with rich people? Low wages boost profits. As a consequence of that, corporate dividends and share prices go up. People who earn less than $100,000 a year own hardly any shares of corporations. The primary beneficiaries of people working at minimum wages go primarily to the rich.
If you raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, the people who benefit from this raise will be buying a lot of the things listed above and more, even a house in Detroit, Michigan, and elsewhere, as well.
And all of a sudden, not just large businesses, but small businesses thrive because demand for goods and services is stronger.
Studies over the last fifteen years show that the idea that high wages weakens employment is a myth.
There are two fundamental laws of capitalism. One is something about supply and demand, which is often rigged in favor of those who believe and act upon the golden rule; he who has the gold makes the rules. The other rule, which Henry Ford (the founder of the Ford Motor Company) believed was simple: When people have more money, businesses have more customers, and need more workers.
This explains why the current economic expansion is the worst since the Great Depression in virtually every category having to do with jobs, wages, GNP, and the things that are important to 99 percent of the US population.
Currently, 1 percent of the population has rigged the economic and political games over the last thirty-five years to the point where they have received a legislatively determined 95 percent of all income growth since 2009, the most ever on record. Worse yet, the rich steal 37 percent of all income produced in the United States nowadays, and that figure is growing, and with no end in sight. Rich parasites will soon be larger in terms of total income than their hosts, the 99 percent.
Ever wonder why the economy under President Jimmy Carter produced more jobs, raised wages, and had greater GNP growth on average than any year of the last fifteen with an economy that was ½ the size of today, and with a population that was 60 percent the size of today? The answer is simple.
Back then, the rich only stole 8 percent of the annual income produced in the United States. That means the rest of us earned 92 percent of all the income created in the USA, which meant demand for goods and services was far more plentiful then than today, job growth was greater, and wages for the 99 percent also rose. Under Carter, the economy created 225,000 jobs a month. Over the last fifteen years, 90,000 has been hailed as an outstanding achievement by President George W. Bush, as well as President Obama.
Something clearly is out of whack with the economy, and yes, most of it has to do with the massive corruption of the US government that was unleashed by the Reagan tax cuts. But if income can be massively redistributed from the 99 to the 1 percent, as it has been for the last thirty-five years, then the government can act to redistribute it back to where it belongs, and all for the good of the economy. This can partially be achieved by raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2017.
And don’t tell me corporate America doesn’t have the money. Currently, they’re sitting on 7-8 trillion dollars inside the US, while holding another 7-8 trillion outside the US, because the demand for goods and services is so low they have no reason to invest it in new plant and equipment so as to increase production, which would require workers.
You can go back 150 years and literally find the same people shouting over and over again on behalf of their rich patrons saying the same thing, “If people on the bottom get paid more, it will be bad for them, and they will lose their jobs.” That’s just a polite way of saying, “My patrons and I are rich, you’re poor, and my boss and I want to keep it that way. And besides, it’s good for Wall Street.”
The fact that corporations are sitting on trillions upon trillions of dollars because demand is slack shows the opposite is true. Every one of those trillions of dollars could be used to create jobs if only the demand was there. The years between President Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan also show the same thing.
If you pay people more, they will purchase more, and everybody will be better off, not just a few politically powerful people. Those trillions of dollars will be used to invest in the production of goods and services. Those trillions also show that US corporations are quite capable of paying their employees more, and not just the already rich CEOs.
That’s why it’s long past time to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Besides, if the minimum wage had kept up with productivity (or real inflation) over the last 56 years, the US federal minimum wage would be nearly twenty dollars an hour.