Playing Tug-of-War With the Minimum Wage: Who Has a Better Grip?
Fast-food workers and their supporters held a day of protest on Thursday, walking out of work or taking to the streets in all 50 states in the pursuit of higher wages and better workplace conditions. The demonstrations are the latest in a series catalyzed in part by President Barack Obama’s call for a higher, inflation-indexed minimum wage in his 2013 Sate of the Union address.
In his speech, the president argued that “in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty.” He advocated an increase in the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $9 per hour, a move that could “mean the difference between groceries or the food bank; rent or eviction; scraping by or finally getting ahead. For businesses across the country, it would mean customers with more money in their pockets. And a whole lot of folks out there would probably need less help from government.”
This and similar thinking has been employed by advocacy groups on behalf of minimum- and low-wage workers. There has been a fairly intense, albeit slow burning, firestorm regarding the issue that has pretty much seeped into every nook and cranny of media, politics, and business. The president’s case and the plight of those unable to afford the cost of living — some 15.1 percent of Americans lived in poverty in 2010 — has stirred many liberal-leaning social thinkers to action, but a number of business leaders, economists, and fiscal conservatives argue that such a minimum-wage increase would at best be ineffective.