Annual Fundraising Appeal

Here’s an important message to CounterPunch readers from Chris Hedges….

Hedges2

Chris Hedges calls CounterPunch “the most fearless, intellectually rigorous and important publication in the United States.” Who are we to argue? But the only way we can continue to “dissect the evils of empire” and the “psychosis of permanent war” is with your financial support. Please donate.

Day8

Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.

Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.

CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.

The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.

Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive  books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)

paypal-donate-21

Don’t want to donate through PayPal?
Then click here to donate through our secure server.

 To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683

Thank you for your support,

Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel

CounterPunch
 PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558

It's Time to Raise the Minimum Wage

The Democratic Party Abandons FDR’s Legacy

by RALPH NADER

Calling Obama, Pelosi, Reid and the rest of the Democratic Party, elected officials, political operatives and labor’s leader Richard Trumka. Thirty million American workers want and need a federal minimum wage of $10 per hour which is slightly less than their predecessors got in 1968 – yes 1968 – adjusted for inflation. What will it take for you to make this a priority?

Of course you all would like to see these desperate workers get an additional $2,000 – $4,500 a year for the barest necessities of life for themselves and their children. Sure, it is easy to be on the record and not on the ramparts for a higher minimum wage. What about the trust that your voters and your rank and file invested in you?

Imagine mobilizing Congress to have workers catch up with 1968 when worker productivity was about half of what it is today.

What would President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who signed the first minimum wage law in 1938, say about today’s pathetic Democrats (with few exceptions like the more than twenty Representatives who signed on to Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.’s H.R. 5901 bill to raise the minimum wage to $10 per hour)? Remember how FDR pushed his Democrats in the 1930s? He would not have tolerated today’s Democratic Party of caution, cash and cowardliness.

Were the Democrats from the White House, to Congress, to Richard Trumka and the major labor unions to immediately make the $10 minimum wage a national, frontline issue, which they certainly could if they want, here are the arguments they can make:

1. Such an overdue raise is an economically and morally necessary initiative. The U.S. has the lowest national minimum wage of $7.25 per hour among major western nations, by a lot. France is over $11 and in Canada, the minimum wage ranges from $9.40 – $11, plus Canadians have a superior social safety net. Meanwhile, the U.S. has the highest paid CEOs, by far, in the world.

2.  Over the years, poll after poll shows that 70 percent of the people support having the minimum wage keep up with inflation. That number includes many conservatives and Republicans. Even Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney, over the years, stood for this principle, even though Romney has hemmed and hawed in recent months.

3.  Are there any economists saying that our shaky economy does not need more consumer demand? A $10 minimum wage quickly releases billions of dollars in new spending by the poor. Poor! The single word the cowering Democrats, including presidential candidates, have refused to use since Jimmy Carter. NPR’s Tavis Smiley on his poverty tour challenges Barack Obama: “Poor. Say it, Mr. President, say it. Poor!”

4.  More income for the poor means less child and family poverty which means less reliance on federal outlays for the poor to survive. The big companies, for example, take advantage of this by steering some of their employees to programs such as Medicaid. As Terrance Heath recently noted in an op-ed in the Nation of Change: “So all of us are subsidizing the wealthy owners and executives of Walmart, McDonald’s, and Target.”

5.  A new report by the respected National Employment Law Project (nelp.org) titled “Big Business, Corporate Profits, and the Minimum Wage,” said that “the majority (66 percent) of low-wage workers are not employed by small businesses but by large corporations.” The 50 largest of their employers are mostly “in strong financial positions.” And note this finding by NELP: “The top executive compensation averaged $9.4 million last year at these firms.” This means that the bosses, before taking a lunch on January 2, made more money than a minimum wage worker makes in a year. Talk about the corrosive effects of inequality which have been fed by the top one percent taking 93 percent of the income growth in 2010, according to Holly Sklar of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage (businessforafairminimumwage.org).

6.  Enlightened business leaders are ready to support the Democrats on this $10 minimum wage initiative. Jeff Long, vice president of Costco, gives the obvious reasons that the retrograde corporatists ignore: “At Costco, we know good wages are good business. We keep our overhead low while still paying a starting wage of $11 an hour. Our employees are a big reason why our sales per square foot is almost double that of our nearest competitor. Instead of minimizing wages, we know it’s a lot more profitable for the long-term to minimize employee turnover and maximize employee productivity and commitment, product value, customer service and company reputation.”

7.  A $10 minimum wage will create jobs because sales will increase. Businesses, having lunched off the windfall of a falling real minimum wage since 1968, should be willing to recognize this greater good. The leading scholar refuting the net job loss propaganda is Alan Krueger who now is head of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. Certainly the people of Santa Fe, New Mexico are not seeing job losses there where the city minimum wage has been $9.50 per hour.

8.  The corporate oligarchy has no moral standing whatsoever. Many of the nations’ corporate giants pay no income tax or very little, far less than a cab driver. Last month, Ford Motor Co. paid no federal or state income taxes despite registering nearly $9 billion in profits. It is hard for companies making record profits and paying executives record pay to have much credibility on this subject. Further, small business has received 17 small business tax breaks under Obama.

August is the congressional recess month. Members of Congress are back home campaigning. Go to their public meetings and ask them directly whether they will vote for a $10 minimum wage when they return to Washington, D.C. after Labor Day, or call their office. One worker went up and asked this question of his representative, Cong. Bill Young (R-Fla.), who gave him the curled lip – “Why do you want that benefit? Get a job.” This snarl made news all over the country.

Ask “the question” Americans, again and again until Labor Day. By then, maybe Mr. Trumka and the AFL-CIO will bestir their political muscles and march with the low-wage workers and recognize what they do for all of us.

If you want more information and would like to sign the petition for a $10 minimum wage, please visit timeforaraise.org.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition.