published Monday, June 11th, 2012

Boost the minimum wage

Political candidates generally talk more about how they would get government off the backs of citizens than about the positive things government can and should do to help ordinary working Americans. Dr. Mary Headrick, a primary care physician and a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the 3rd congressional district, does not fit that mode. Her willingness to advocate for a higher minimum wage is a good example.

She rightly notes, as do many economists, that the nation's low minimum wage, $7.25 an hour, has failed miserably over decades to keep pace with inflation and the rising cost of living. At the federal minimum wage, a full-time job would pay just $15,080 a year. That's not enough to get any adult worker out of poverty. Yet contrary to what many believe, that's all many bread-winners with children earn, especially in the South, where most states refuse to set a minimum wage higher than the federal level.

The obvious result, Headrick points out, is that exceedingly low wages keep an unreasonably high number of workers below the poverty level and push them to rely on safety net programs, such as Medicaid/TennCare and food stamps.

A number of figures confirm that: 17 percent of young families were below poverty levels in the 3rd congressional district in 2010, and 27 percent of children were in poverty level families. In Hamilton County in 2008-09, a shocking 85.4 percent of students in our county school system qualified for free or reduced-price meals -- the highest percentage of any of the counties in the 3rd District -- according to data compiled by TACIR, the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations.

Raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour, Headrick argues, would serve as an incentive to work and boost state and federal income tax revenues and family income, while decreasing the burden on safety net programs.

Headrick is hardly alone in advocating a higher minimum wage. Congress last passed a bill to increase the minimum wage in 2006 -- phasing in a multistep increase -- but it remains unreasonably low, and there's still no cost-of-living index for inflation in the minimum wage. Lawmakers in at least five states have strongly advocated an increase in the minimum wage this year, and economic studies support their contention that boosting the minimum wage would help drive both consumer spending levels and tax revenue. It also would decrease reliance on public safety net programs, and boost family values and the creation of more cohesive and marriage-based families.

With the economy recovering, political candidates ought to be making the point that boosting wages at the bottom rung is not only a fine way to strengthen working families and help them rise above poverty; it's a way of boosting the economy. Businesses wary of having to pay higher minimum wages miss the point that the higher wage would boost economic activity and fuel more demand for their goods and services.

Headrick's proposal is practical. She would seek a minimum wage of $10.16 an hour over two to three years, with exceptions for new, part-time young workers under the age of 18, or for special-needs workers in a "sheltered workshop" environment. That's entirely feasible, and well in line with what many economists advocate. But for Headrick to get to Congress and work on that idea, 3rd District voters will have to realize that the Republicans they generally favor rarely support ways to help people stuck at the bottom work their way up.

33
Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
EaTn said...

Based on my recollection of the prices fifty years ago, eg. a starter family car for $2000 and a starter home for $12-15,000, with the minimum wage then of $1 per hour the current minimum wage should be at least $10 per hour due to the ten-fold inflation.

June 11, 2012 at 7:01 a.m.
joneses said...

This talk of raising the minimum wage to $10.00 an hour is designed to attract ignorant voters to vote for the dummycrats and boost the Union pay that is tied to the minimum wage. It is foolish to think raising the minimum rase will do anything to help the economy. When the minimum wage was raised the last time unemployment and inflation skyrocketed. Why did the dummycrats not raise the minimum raise to $10.00 an hour when they had complete control of Washington DC 1.5 years ago? This is playing politics with the already ruined Hussein Obama economy and will only make Hussein Obama's economy worst. It is just a desperate attempt to get votes by creating hatred by Hussein Obama towards the business owners. As a business owner if the minimum raise is increased I will be forced to lay off people to pay for the increase of the other peoples pay as the market will not absorb the increase in the price of my product. also it will give more businesses reason to move to China, Mexico. This is pure politics from a desperate foolish president who has lost the confidence of the American people. But the foolish will still support Hussein Obama no matter what his failures are.

June 11, 2012 at 7:43 a.m.
EaTn said...

joneses....honestly, would you work for less than $10 per hour? Then why do you think others should have to? Typical cons double standard.

June 11, 2012 at 8:12 a.m.
conservative said...

I'm shocked that this Socialist would be a shill for another Demoncrat( a fellow traveler ) candidate!

June 11, 2012 at 9:23 a.m.
joneses said...

easy123

Are you serious? If I had no skills and that is the only pay I could find you bet I would. If one wants to be paid more than they should make themselves worth more. This economy cannot stand another increase in the minimum wage. When I started an entry level position I made minimum wage and did not complain one bit as I knew it was only temporary until I made myself worth more. Why stop at $10.00 an hour? Why not make it $30.00 an hour? Classic liberal feel good idea that has no focus on the unintended failed consequences. It is a stupid ida and is just another attempt by the dummycrats to promote class warfare. Surely you have more intellect to see this.

June 11, 2012 at 10:48 a.m.
Easy123 said...

Only joneses and conservative would complain or find something wrong with raising the minimum wage.

June 11, 2012 at 11:24 a.m.
conservative said...

Joneses...

Your point about much larger increases in the minimum wage has been made countless times in the last 40 years of my notice.

So liberals either 1.have gone to "information" sources that have not made this known, 2. are to obtuse to understand this, 3. are committed Socialists who don't care or 4. have always had minimum wage jobs.

June 11, 2012 at 11:33 a.m.
joneses said...

Only liberals like easy123 are to stupid to realize the highest cost of doing business is labor and if you increase labor cost you have to increase the cost of the product sold or decrease the number of employees to pay for it causing inflation and unemployment. It is so simple a kid at a lemonade stand can understand this but easy123 apparently cannot do simple math.

June 11, 2012 at 12:54 p.m.
conservative said...

Ah, the wisdom of a Socialist : "Businesses wary of having to pay higher minimum wages miss the point that the higher wage would boost economic activity and fuel more demand for their goods and services."

June 11, 2012 at 12:56 p.m.
Easy123 said...

You're wrong. Increasing the minimum wage has no effect on job growth or unemployment. The cost of products might go up but so will demand.

I guess you're to stupid to know when you're wrong.

And you're still insane, Conservative. You have this Socialist thing on repeat.

June 11, 2012 at 1:28 p.m.
timbo said...

This is stupid right now. Minimum wage rise is just another tax on business. They will hire less, lay off, etc. to make up the difference.

In our business we pay more than minimum wage because I need a quality employee. That is the market deciding as it should be. Why don't you lower the minimum wage and cut welfare. This will put more people to work, reduce spending and make it more likely that people who don't work will want to work.

People like Harry Austin and other liberals always think something is a good idea that someone else pays for. Maybe we need a Liberal Tax. I bet you would change your mind then.

June 11, 2012 at 2:03 p.m.
conservative said...

I'll volunteer to be the cleanup batter.

I hope Obamination will say :

"Increasing the minimum wage has no effect on job growth or unemployment"

Now that's a keeper! Every Socialists knows that business is chomping/champing at the bit for labor costs to go up so they can hire more people. And business didn't go overseas because of high labor costs over here and lower costs over there. Why only some greedy small business man would make such a claim.

And what about excessive regulation. No labor costs involved there.

Then maybe Obamination will double down on Socialist wisdom and say :

"The cost of products might go up but so will demand."

Now that will surely get him reelected. I saw that Socialist axiom in play at the farmer's market recently. A box of tomatoes went for 12 dollars more in one week and people were standing in line to get them! Some broke in line and fights broke out. People were shouting "what took you so long to raise prices?"

June 11, 2012 at 2:48 p.m.
Easy123 said...

http://mediamatters.org/blog/201206070019

You're wrong. And companies go overseas because there is basically no labor cost there. Workers overseas work long hours on very little pay, if any at all.

http://seeingredinchina.com/2011/03/02/how-much-does-a-chinese-factory-worker-make/

If the minimum wage goes up, the price of the product might raise slightly. However, people will have more money to pay for these items. Some products won't increase in price at all and the possible demand for said product might drive the price down.

This "Socialist" stuff is getting old. Prove Obama or anyone is a socialist. You have this on repeat and no evidence to back it up. But I'll join in. Conservative is Hitler's grandson. He's a Grand Wizard in the KKK and he likes clubbing baby seals in his spare time.

June 11, 2012 at 3:03 p.m.
chatt_man said...

conservative - you shouldn't joke like that. Someone may take you serious and believe that junk. Oh...never mind, some on here already do.

mediamatters... that's my go-to spot, if moveon doesn't have what I'm looking for.

Priceless...

June 11, 2012 at 3:31 p.m.
Stewwie said...

[It also would decrease reliance on public safety net programs...]

Actually, it would result in an increase in reliance on public safety net programs after the ensuing layoffs from business owners because they can't pass along the additional cost to their market prices. (Great point above, joneses.)

[...and boost family values and the creation of more cohesive and marriage-based families.]

Nonsense. Family values is a matter of personal conviction, not a matter of money. A boost in pay will not directly result in improved moral living within society.

June 11, 2012 at 3:34 p.m.
timbo said...

Easy123...Socialism is an economic system characterised by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy. Setting a minimum wage is government "cooperative management of the economy." Obama has done that with health care, the stimulus, EPA, etc. If you are going to comment, at least know the definitions of words.

Also, Hitler was not "conservative." NAZI literally means The National Socialist German Workers' Party. When it started according to Wikipedia and other sources, "The party was created by Anton Drexler as a means to draw workers away from communism and into völkisch nationalism. Initially, Nazi political strategy focused on anti-big business, anti-bourgeois, and anti-capitalist rhetoric, although such aspects were later downplayed in order to gain the support of industrial entities, and in the 1930's the party's focus shifted to anti-Semitic and anti-Marxist themes."

In the beginning it sounds just like Obama and liberal democrats doesn't it?

Second, you need to learn the difference between slavery and work for wages. Little pay is not "no pay." Although wages are low in developing countries, so are living expenses. Price are dictated by wages.

June 11, 2012 at 3:40 p.m.
Easy123 said...

http://www.cepr.net/documents/publications/min-wage-2011-03.pdf#page=3

http://www.fiscalpolicy.org/FPISmallBusinessMinWage.pdf

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/07/business/bill-pushes-for-increase-in-wages.html?_r=2

It has links chattman. Learn to read, then get back to me. Priceless that you don't know how hyperlinks work. The evidence is in the mediamatters link. But I've provided the sources that they used so you don't have to strain your brain.

June 11, 2012 at 3:40 p.m.
Easy123 said...

Timbo,

I'm glad you can read Wikipedia but you still have provided no proof of Obama being a socialist. Many non-socialist countries have universal healthcare. The stimulus and the EPA are very poor examples of socialism in any sense.

You misunderstand. Companies go overseas because of the low cost of labor. The companies could very easily pay their workers minimum wage but they do not because they don't have to. That has nothing to do with living costs.

June 11, 2012 at 3:49 p.m.
328Kwebsite said...

We have enough Fortune 500 companies with offices in our city to have a better standard of living for our workers than we are seeing.

Unum Group, Rock-Tenn, Republic Services, AON (through insurance and finance companies), almost every big box store on the list from Wal-Mart to CVS: there's enough money here for a strong economy.

The idea that businesses are too weak to pay employees more than $7.25 an hour is hogwash. If McDonald's paid employees what they were worth to their corporation, no one would be working there for less than $30K a year.

Every time we give businesses more of a lead under the excuse that they are too weak to do the right thing, we're just setting ourselves up to be victimized some more.

Our main problem is that we have created a class of business workers who produce no goods and provide no services. They think the function of commerce is "to make money." It's not. "Commerce" is not on the state seal of Tennessee and so many other states "to make money." Commerce, as a concept, is valid because it is a peaceful means for people to provide for their needs and their improvement.

Our main problem is an attitude of endorsing profit for profit's sake. We need to return to understanding that Owner's Equity, the adding of value by providing services and improving goods, is the cornerstone of our state's economy.

Our wealthy have more than enough money on the books. In the early 1990s, the CEO of UnumProvident was bringing in a scant six figures. Recent Times-Free Press articles now show him making 12.25 Million. They have enough money to pay employees.

Instead, they fired them.

Now, we have to fix the problems they created for us. One solution is to tax corporations for employee dumping. When they fire more people than the county can get rehired in a year, like with mass layoffs of 100+ employees per quarter: that's a corporation living off of the county's tax dollar.

Instead of the company paying for a worker's survival, they choose to dump the employee onto the welfare rolls of unemployment. This makes corporate dumpers some of our biggest welfare queens.

If they can dump employees while paying CEOs 12.25 Million dollars, they deserve no -- no -- sympathy from our community.

Not only do we need to put company's in a position to be intellectually competent enough to be responsible, we need to consider state regulations that will directly punish them for abusive hiring and firing practices.

Stop employee dumping. Tax CEOs making over $1 Million for every 100 employees they fire a year.

June 11, 2012 at 5:07 p.m.
328Kwebsite said...

If they can't fix business in our city on their own, then we can fix it for them.

I hope they find our methods of fixing their problems as inconvenient as the failures they put on our people while taking home thick paychecks themselves. If they can't be a part of the community in business, then they can get out of our community.

If you fired hundreds of workers while taking home a multimillion dollar paycheck, then get out of my city and don't come back. We don't need you.

Our coal miners gave their lives to build up Provident's bank accounts. Now look at us. Many unemployed for no good reason while the Unum CEO goes home with $12.25 Million. Just disgusting.

Pack your carpet bag and go back to Maine.

Businesses can start doing the right thing at any time. There's nothing stopping them. They have more than enough cash on hand. They have had it the entire time.

June 11, 2012 at 5:14 p.m.
Easy123 said...

JonRoss,

Man, you're a genius.

June 11, 2012 at 7:53 p.m.

The only people put out of work by the EPA rules have been the gas-mask makers and pulmonary doctors. A terrible thing, I'm sure.

Certainly not coal miners, employment in that field is up.

http://m.bdtonline.com/BDT/pm_103628/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=15R8Hpj1

I'm sure some mines have closed, but what do you expect? Accessible coal does run out.

June 11, 2012 at 8:13 p.m.
Easy123 said...

You Republicans really like calling everyone else "Obama worshipers" and "Socialist". If you only knew how stupid that sounds to any logical person. I'll start calling y'all "Romney Disciples" and "Fascists".

June 11, 2012 at 8:59 p.m.

It's part of their Anti-Obama cult. They worship him as the nemesis, and they've concocted a counter-religion to justify their own devotions.

But hey, they can't argue that there are fewer Coal workers. I'm sure there's SOME coal worker that have been fired, but net employment? Up.

June 11, 2012 at 11:05 p.m.
chatt_man said...

Easy - I read well, not good, like you might say. And I understand hyperlinks just fine, dumbass. I just consider mediamatters about as worthy of reading as I'm sure you do Fox News. Thanks for the links.

June 12, 2012 at 9:43 a.m.
timbo said...

Easy123.... I tried to educate you but to no avail. The brainwashing has gone to deep. I used Wikipedia because I thought it was a source you could understand.

By the way, the New York Times, and he rest of your "proof" is not relevant. I think the NAZI's perfected something called propaganda and that is what the sources you site put out.

Every time someone offers "proof" to you, you say that it wasn't the "proof" that you accept. The only "truth" you accept is the liberal line. Your confusion of who and what is a socialist is mind-boggling.

All European countries are socialist. They are doing just what you and Obama-ites want. That is why they are in big trouble economically and can't pay their bills, i.e. Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, etc.

You, like most of your fellow ignorant liberals, are bound and determined to put us in the same fix. Some of us are not going to let that happen.

Grow up.

June 12, 2012 at 10:30 a.m.
JustOneWoman said...

timbo said... Easy123.... I tried to educate you but to no avail. The brainwashing has gone to deep.........(snip).....Grow up.

Timbo, You spew endless insults, yet offer no real ideas or conversation regarding any issues. If you don't like someone's proof, you just label it invalid. You want people to grow up, yet you still write like a 5th grader. You do realize that there is a difference between to and too, right? Do you understand the language? Reading your posts is like watching a two year old brat lobbing dictates at his parents because he wants a cookie. Maybe it is you that should grow up and act civil. You want to get off the porch and run with the big dogs? Start acting like an adult and you might get some respect. Until then, I consider you a little puppy nipping at the dust.

June 12, 2012 at 3:30 p.m.
Easy123 said...

Chatt_man,

Obviously you can't understand hyperlinks DUMBASS, or you would have read past the URL and actually clicked on the hyperlinks!

Timbo,

One of the articles was from the New York Times. How about the other ones that address the issue directly? Are those irrelevant?

Obviously, YOU are confused about socialism. Just because a country has one program that could be deemed "socialist" in nature doesn't mean it is a socialist country. How can you label a whole country based on one program or entity?

And no, all European countries are not socialist. And, by the way, socialist doesn't equal communism.

You, like most of your fellow ignorant conservatives, are bound and determined to stay ignorant you whole lives because you can't think for yourselves or even read basic links. You have no clue what you are talking about. The fact that you think all European countries are socialist should discredit everything you have ever said.

Just read what JustOneWoman said, then maybe you will understand why rational thinking people don't take anything you say seriously.

June 12, 2012 at 4:17 p.m.

Why raise the minimum wage? The socialist programs we have in this country now will provide for anyone who doesn't want to work anymore. Free food, housing, transportation, internet, cellphones, healthcare etc.... Why work when there are so many others working so you don't have to? If they do raise the minimum wage, tax revenues will rise because people will be making more allowing even more of us to quit and live on the dole. Win-win...win!

June 12, 2012 at 5:08 p.m.
conservative said...

I saw a news blurb on the Yahoo page yesterday reporting that citizens of Denmark only worked 4 hours a day. I immediately thought of recommending to the Liberals here that they go and live over there. Then it dawned on me that over here you don't have to work at all!

June 12, 2012 at 5:56 p.m.
please login to post a comment

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »

advertisement
advertisement

Find a Business

400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.