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Marcus Bright: Go Big on Poverty and the Minimum Wage

Scholar Marcus Bright writes for the Huffington Post and encourages the federal government to push a bit harder on the minimum wage.  He mentions that President Obama was elected on big ideas, and that one of the big ideas that Americans can rally around is a cost of living wage increase for the working poor.  Bright argues that the minimum wage should be $10 per hour, which would be a great step in that direction.  Says Bright:


It was correctly stated by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and Huffington Post Contributor Howard Fineman on the June 4 edition of Hardball that President Barack Obama was elected in 2008 on big ideas. People organized and were galvanized around the possibility of major changes in the area of healthcare, foreign policy and general economic recovery. While it is clear that the plight of the poor and working class is not anywhere close to the priority list for Mitt Romney as evidenced by his statement earlier this year that, “He’s not concerned about the working poor because they have a safety net“; President Obama has not explicitly made addressing poverty a cornerstone of his administration.

Many people play by the rules and work hard every day but do not make enough money to adequately support their families. Minimum wage has never been enough to move a family above the poverty level if only one person in the family works. Raising the minimum wage to 10 dollars an hour as has been recently proposed by a group of House Democrats led by Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. is one big idea that people who are poor or are concerned about the plight of the poor can rally around. The time has come for actual legislation to be advanced and not just for empty rhetoric to be thrown about for the purpose of self-aggrandizement.

Some may think that 10 dollars an hour is too big of an amount. This is ironic, given that many of these same individuals didn’t bat an eye when we spent billions of dollars rebuilding the infrastructure of Iraq or continuously blow a massive hole in our national debt by the passage and extension of the irresponsible Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest among us. There will surely be a large chorus of critics claiming that such a rise in the minimum wage would lead to job losses among “low skilled” workers, hurt small businesses and disrupt the operations of the free market.



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