FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

How to Raise the Minimum Wage

by RALPH NADER

Day after day exposés pour forth about corporate and governmental wrongdoing and abuses of power from official reports, the media, lawsuits and citizen groups. Far more often than not, little or nothing happens. The organized culprits continue with their harmful and greedy ways.

The golden age of muckraking in films, books, and magazine articles – assuming they are seen or read – can discourage people because the forces of law and order don’t follow through.

The banality of exposés can be displaced by the activity of reform; if only the people will express their will in ways no one in officialdom or corporatedom can stop.

Let’s take the matter of raising the federal minimum wage (now $7.25 an hour) for 30 million working poor to the level that workers received at the minimum wage level in 1968, adjusted for inflation. That would be a $10.50 minimum wage today.

At least 70 percent of the American public supports this modest goal, which would stimulate the economy and make the major employers of low-income workers, such as Walmart or McDonald’s, stop capitalizing on a depreciating minimum wage. Other profitable businesses, like Costco, are already joining the fight and calling to raise the minimum wage above $10 per hour.

In a few weeks, members of Congress, the people in charge of raising the minimum wage to 1968 levels, will be on a two-weeklong recess. Many of these senators and representatives will hold a town meeting or two in their districts or state. Many of them need to have a couple of hundred Americans, especially the working poor, show up to demand a $10.50 minimum wage.

Two hundred citizens showing up at a local congressional office or town meeting is a tiny number in a congressional district averaging 650,000 Americans. But just that small number of people informed, determined and saying they’re not going to go away in the following weeks, will really jolt the lawmakers. Because, usually, very few people show up at such meetings, and when Tea Party partisans did during the August 2009 Congressional recess, the thunder clapped all the way to Washington, D.C.

Now we all know that no one can stop citizens from showing up at these meetings in the first two weeks of April (call your legislator’s local office for times and places of scheduled meetings). Or even demand a meeting in your area with your legislators if one is not scheduled nearby.

If one percent of the people turned out in April, that would be about 6,000 people in each congressional district. I can assure you the likelihood of reaching a $10.50 minimum wage would be very high. Remember, turning out includes telling your senator and representative that you are staying with this needed and just reform until enactment. Law makers respect and fear civic stamina.

If citizens take on this challenge, when Congress resumes in mid-April, the atmosphere on Capitol Hill will decidedly not be “business as usual.” The various poverty groups, civic organizations and labor unions that lobby Congress can point to a powerful constituency back in the districts where your town meeting presence has been reported in the local media. Many national groups are happy to keep you informed of the drive for a $10.50 minimum wage and what catching up with 1968 means for creating more jobs and better livelihoods.

Our website is Time for a Raise.org where you’ll see how civic organizations, prominent writers, economists and enlightened business leaders have come to the side of the 30 million Americans who have been shortchanged for many years by big companies reporting record profits and record CEO pay. For instance, the head of Walmart makes $11,000 an hour!

Other Congressional recesses are in May, around the Fourth of July, and almost the entire month of August. So you’ll have plenty of opportunities to plan for a great and determined turnout with your fellow citizens.

Remember, you “the people” number in the millions. Congress is made up of 535 representatives and senators. There is no way you can’t make them enact this modest measure of economic justice. The big corporations who want to continue with serf labor have money, but no votes. In the final analyses, members of Congress will have to value informed votes above sleazy campaign cash.

April is springtime when nature renews itself. It can also be the time for citizens to renew their civic commitments and flex their democratic muscle to end this 21st century wage slavery.

Riding herd on your members of Congress is fun. This is especially true when you vastly outnumber them on a very understandable reform for the 30 million American laborers who harvest our food, serve us daily, clean up after us, and take care of our children and ailing elderly. The working poor can’t pay for their most basic needs and those of their children.

We want to touch base and help organizers for these recess town meetings in your community.  Please visit timeforaraise.org or send an email to info@timeforaraise.org, and see that what needs to be done is easier than you think.

 

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 24, 2017
Anthony DiMaggio
Reflections on DC: Promises and Pitfalls in the Anti-Trump Uprising
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Developer Welfare: Trump’s Infrastructure Plan
Melvin Goodman
Trump at the CIA: the Orwellian World of Alternative Facts
Sam Mitrani – Chad Pearson
A Short History of Liberal Myths and Anti-Labor Politics
Kristine Mattis
Democracy is Not a Team Sport
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Mexico, Neo-Nationalism and the Capitalist World-System
Ted Rall
The Women’s March Was a Dismal Failure and a Hopeful Sign
Norman Pollack
Women’s March: Halt at the Water’s Edge
Pepe Escobar
Will Trump Hop on an American Silk Road?
Franklin Lamb
Trump’s “Syria “Minus Iran” Overture to Putin and Assad May Restore Washington-Damascus Relations
Kenneth R. Culton
Violence By Any Other Name
David Swanson
Why Impeach Donald Trump
Christopher Brauchli
Trump’s Contempt
January 23, 2017
John Wight
Trump’s Inauguration: Hail Caesar!
Mark Schuller
So What am I Doing Here? Reflections on the Inauguration Day Protests
Patrick Cockburn
The Rise of Trump and Isis Have More in Common Than You Might Think
Binoy Kampmark
Ignored Ironies: Women, Protest and Donald Trump
Gregory Barrett
Flag, Cap and Screen: Hollywood’s Propaganda Machine
Gareth Porter
US Intervention in Syria? Not Under Trump
L. Ali Khan
Trump’s Holy War against Islam
Gary Leupp
An Al-Qaeda Attack in Mali:  Just Another Ripple of the Endless, Bogus “War on Terror”
Norman Pollack
America: Banana Republic? Far Worse
Bob Fitrakis - Harvey Wasserman
We Mourn, But We March!
Kim Nicolini
Trump Dump: One Woman March and Personal Shit as Political
William Hawes
We Are on Our Own Now
Martin Billheimer
Last Tango in Moscow
Colin Todhunter
Development and India: Why GM Mustard Really Matters
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s America—and Ours
David Mattson
Fog of Science II: Apples, Oranges and Grizzly Bear Numbers
Clancy Sigal
Who’s Up for This Long War?
Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail