The least we can do


It didn’t take the Congressional Budget Office to tell me that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would have the two-pronged effect of eliminating jobs while raising people out of poverty.

I mean, duh.

It’s easy to see the immediate ripple effect of  a living wage. But the numbers are helpful.

A $10.10/hour minimum wage would raise 900,000 out of poverty, while costing approximately 500,000 jobs, according to CBO figures.

Here, the pragmatists in the crowd wipe their hands and congratulate everybody on a job well done. But blowback comes from the strangest quarters — the big-business wing of the GOP, not normally associated with defending the interests of the least among us.

But that’s a short play to make.

People who make minimum wage generally spend pretty much every dime that comes in, on things like car repairs, groceries, shoes for the kids, gasoline, maybe a family night out at the Red Robin — most of which eventually gets funneled into the coffers of big corporations anyway. Nobody who gets a bump from $7.25/hour to $10.10 will be opening an offshore bank account with the windfall.

There’s the moral issue, as well. People who work full time shouldn’t be poor — not the kind of poor where you have trouble keeping the lights on and putting food on the table. And people who work full time should definitely not qualify for public assistance, which is not to say that we should cut off food stamps to anyone with a job but that anyone with a full-time job should bring in enough to make the cut.

But here in the US we take our morality cafeteria style, and somewhere along the line over the last three decades, poor folk have moved to the bottom of the list.

Here’s a more thorough and evenhanded analysis from Bloomberg, which should be sure to get the money guys thinking.