Target: President Barack Obama
Goal: Raise the minimum wage to a living wage, high enough for American workers to survive
The Green Party recently released a statement asking the Obama administration to set a minimum wage on which American workers can actually survive. They argue that the nine-dollar minimum wage Obama hopes to enact this term, while better than the current minimum, is still not enough to provide for an American family.
A person who works a full-time, 40-hour week at nine dollars per hour, without any vacations or days off, makes less than $19,000 per year. At this rate, a single-income family with an infant child, for example, would be well-below the federal poverty line. Moreover, this simplistic indicator does not take into account any family’s aspirations for the “American Dream,” the hope to simply save enough money to buy a home and send children to college. It also does not take into account young adults who would like to start families, but are plagued with student loan debt and a poor job market.
The Green Party argues that productivity in the US has increased, yet the nine-dollar minimum wage is lower than the 1968 minimum, which would equal $10.50 when adjusted for inflation. They call for proactive legislation that truly encourages the productivity of minimum wage workers and pulls them out of poverty. They propose a minimum closer to $16 per hour. Supporters do not believe this is much to ask of the federal government, given the enormous income gap between the poorest and richest working Americans, alongside the generous federal relief given to America’s largest corporations in times of crisis. They argue that the increase will boost the economy overall by giving low-wage workers more spending-power. Green Party representatives also mention the inaccuracy of judging the health of the US economy based on the Dow Jones average, which reflects only the prosperity of America’s wealthiest companies.
Australia and France have significantly higher minimum wages than the proposed US minimum of nine dollars. There is no need for American workers to trail behind. Ask President Obama to enact a living wage rather than a minimum wage.
Dear Mr. President,
While your proposal to enact a nine dollar minimum wage is an improvement over the current minimum, it trails far behind minimum wages in countries like France and Australia. It will not provide a living wage for working American families. In fact, the nine-dollar minimum is less than the minimum wage in 1968, which would equal $10.50 today when adjusted for inflation. Few single-income families can survive on $19,000 dollars per year, much less begin to save money for buying a house or sending children to college.
The gap between the richest and poorest working Americans is already large enough. While America’s largest corporations receive generous gifts from the government in times of crisis, the poorest, hardest-working Americans at the bottom of the ladder wait hopefully for even the slightest increase in wages. Help these masses stimulate the economy by giving them increased spending power. Raise the minimum wage to a “living wage” above nine dollars per hour.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Pete Souza via Wikimedia