New Castle News

March 18, 2014

Minimum wage claims fade under scrutiny

By Staff
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Editor, The News:

Robert Miller’s arguments against raising the minimum wage (letter, March 8) are so absurd they’re laughable.

He stated the president pulled the proposed new $10.10 hourly rate “out of his backside.”

No, that’s what the minimum wage of 40 years ago should be today when adjusted for inflation. (Congress has automatic cost-of-living increases in its pay.)

Miller seems to whine that a $2.85 increase for those at the bottom would somehow “degrade” or “devalue” his skills and wages.

Sounds like the “class warfare” mantra the Republicans throw at liberals. (It’s OK though when Republicans heap more money on the rich in the form of farm subsidies and they don’t even have to work for it, huh?)

He says that pay is based on “skill.” Oh really? A female co-worker of mine from three or four years ago said her brother-in-law was a union steward with PennDOT and offered her a job as a highway flagger for, get this, $26 per hour plus benefits. (Probably more now.)

How much “skill” does it take to stand on the road holding a stop sign and a walkie-talkie? Not much, but I’ll bet the on-the-job mortality rate for highway workers is a heck of a lot higher than for aerospace engineers. (Breathing exhaust fumes all day can’t be good for one’s health either.) They’re being paid for the risk.

Miller’s final statement that raising the minimum wage brings more unemployment is Republican bunk. There’s no proof of that.

In fact, just the opposite is true. If low-wage workers have more money to spend, they buy more products, which increases demand, which increases production, resulting in more work (hiring). It’s called “trickle up” economics.

Robert Zbegan

Old Princeton Road

Shenango Township