Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sub-minimum wage

Here's on child labor:

Several states, including Ohio, want to roll back minimum wage for people under 20. The details vary from state to state, but apparently Maine is proposing $5.25 an hour for this specific group.

Here are my problems with this:

An acquaintance of mine has a daughter who started at the same state university she attended 30 years ago. She wanted the daughter to work her way through college for character building reasons, but noted that the cost of the education there had gone up by 10 times in 30 years while minimum wage had increased a mere 2.5 times. These figures made it impossible her daughter to earn enough to work her way through school. A sub-minimum wage would make that financial struggle even harder, especially as Pell grants are under attack now.

Apparently, at least in some states, the proposals abolish the kind of oversight that prevents abuse. In fact, some of the legislation takes away any requirement for record keeping. The message is clear: Employers can hire very young workers and do what they want with them. (This in the wake of the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Fire?) The most vulnerable will be the most exploited.

I have been wondering when and how the assault on minimum wage would come. Never, ever do you hear anyone like Boehner, our representative from Ohio, say anything but "job creation." There's never any talk of decent jobs at decent wages with decent benefits .... Now I know how minimum wage will be attacked: Use the states, target specific groups, slice and dice, whittle and prod .... Then the "rest of us" will have to compete with $5.25 an hour ...

Where is the mainstream media on this? The New York Times spent masses of time on the Triangle fire but in the meantime, in real time, Rome is burning all around us. We hand wring over past abuses while politicians are trying to rewind the tape to recreate those days.

Perhaps this summer, when it looks like I will be unemployed, I can get involved in politics for the second time in my life. I'm simply not an overtly political creature ...

Am I over-reacting to this? I really see this as a part of a "vision", not to bring the rest of the world forward to decent wages and benefits for workers, but to create a huge class of underpaid proles in America who can "compete" with Third World workers in a race to the bottom. It makes me deeply sad on spiritual level.


Hystery said...

You are not over-reacting.

Diane said...

Thank you.