Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Minimum Wage: Another New Deal Protection for Americans

(Image courtesy of the U.S. Department of Labor.)

In 1938, President Franklin Roosevelt said, "Do not let any calamity-howling executive with an income of $1,000 a day, ...tell you...that a wage of $11 a week is going to have a disastrous effect on all American industry" (quote here). And with that sentiment, Roosevelt signed the minimum wage into law (part of broader legislation).

According to David Woolner, Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, "The National Association of Manufacturers insisted that the law was but the first step in taking the country down the road to 'communism, bolshevism, fascism and Nazism'" (see here).

Of course, the hysteria proved to be nonsense. After World War II (with New Deal policies like the minimum wage firmly in place) the American middle-class and economy thrived.

(The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor was created in 1938 and, among other functions, handles minimum wage complaints. Image is in the public domain, courtesy of Wikipedia.)

According to a recent public opinion poll conducted by Hart Research Associates, "The vast majority of Americans support increasing the national minimum wage" to $10.10 per hour. But, in March 2013, House Republicans voted (unanimously) against raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. Indeed, it is well-known that many conservative politicians want to abolish or reduce the minimum wage (see here, here, and here).

(In 2012, Congressman Bill Young (R-FL) is asked why he won't support a minimum wage increase. His response is "get a job." After the questioner responds that he has a job, Young tells him to "get a job" again. Original YouTube link here.)    

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