Letter: Raise the minimum wage – as a first step
An increase in the minimum wage is long overdue in this country.
Wages have not kept pace with productivity for 30 years. It is a necessary first step to undoing the ill effects of 30 years of trickle-down Reaganomics – the largest peacetime transfer of wealth in history.
In contrast to other advanced democracies, America is now a low-wage nation. Once, we paid the highest wages in the world. Now income is redistributed upward, while the tax burden is shifted down, and economic opportunity for the 99 percent has greatly diminished. Growth in total employee compensation in the United States since 1985 has been by less than half a percent.
By contrast, other advanced democracies continue to have shared prosperity. Total compensation since 1985 in Germany has increased by 194 percent – giving the lie to those who claim globalization is the reason for our decline. Significant reform is required on many levels if we are to restore the American dream: stronger labor laws, a reversal of three decades of off-shoring of manufacturing, and a genuine commitment to investment in good jobs at good wages. All Americans, including those who labor picking our crops, working in our slaughterhouses, or working two jobs and long hours to try and make ends meet, deserve nothing less than a living wage. A higher minimum wage is an essential first step.