Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Stealing from the Poor . . .

Anyone else a little confused at Congress's actions recently? First, last week they decide that they deserved another pay raise. This is the eighth time in the last ten years they felt they were not getting paid enough. Obviously - look at how many kick-back and bribe scandals have come out recently (I will admit that most of these have yet to be fully investigated, and the people named may yet be exonerated, but the evidence does seem to go against them). Tom DeLay, Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT), Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-CA), Bob Ney (R-OH), and Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) are just a few of people named in recent investigations.

So, first Congress decides they need more money for themselves. Next, they decide that the working public do not. Yes, that's right. Once again Congress has failed pass a bill which would raise minimum wage. Right now, minimum wage is $5.15/hr, which comes out to $10712/yr before taxes (assuming 40 hrs/week, 52 weeks/yr). An income of this level leaves a family of four, with both parents working full time, just barely over the 2004 Census Bureau defined poverty level - a level which was set before gas prices skyrocketed. Do you know the last time minimum wages were raised? 1997! We're coming up on 10 years since the last bump. In 1997, average gas was $1.23 a gallon. What is now - $2.85 a gallon? It's more than doubled since then.

The bill to raise the minimum wage base wasn't even all that extreme, either. The bill would have raised to $7.25/hr, in three steps. It would not have even gone all the way up to $7.25 until OCTOBER 2009! Once again, politicians have decided that it is in the nation's best interest for them to get more and for the public to get less.

1 comment:

Journey said...

I hate to be the one to say it, but . . . there's a point to being very careful with minimum wage. Everything is a trade-off: employers don't have more money to pay staff just because minimum wage goes up. The last time mimimum wage went up, all my friends who'd had 40 hours a week were suddenly cut to 26 hours a week and were vastly over-worked during those 26 hours. (I was in college. We were *all* working for minimum wage).

On the other hand, I can't explain Congress giving itself raises.