Now that President Barack Obama has gotten the ball rolling by signing an executive order last week raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour for U.S. government contract workers, Congress should enact a boost for other low-wage workers. There doesnt have to be a dogfight to get it done. Recent polls show a majority of liberals and conservatives believe it should happen.
A Jan. 8 poll by Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University found 71 percent of Americans, including 52 percent of Republicans, favor raising the minimum wage. Seven Nobel prize-winning economists, including Robert Solow, former presidents of the American Economic Association and more than 600 other economists, added their voices to that in a recently signed letter to Congress and Obama. They urged Congress to raise the federal minimum from its current level of $7.25 an hour to $10.10 by 2016.
Says the letter: At a time when persistent high unemployment is putting enormous downward pressure on wages, such a minimum-wage increase would provide a much-needed boost to the earnings of low-wage workers.
Plus, raising the minimum wage to this level would mean little if any decrease on employment, according to the most carefully conducted studies on the matter.
The object, of course, is to train and educate people so they dont have to settle for minimum-wage jobs as their primary source of income. Thats not the case now. In 2012, 76 percent of workers earning $7.25 an hour or less were aged 20 or older. That needs to change. But those who have those jobs should not be relegated to choosing between food on the table and utilities to make it.
The minimum wage hasnt changed since 2009. Its time for a boost.
Bullying wrong even in NFL
The NFL-ordered probe of the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal says what many already believed. Jonathan Martin, who left the team in October, was racially harassed and viciously taunted by Richie Incognito and other players on the team. The 148-page report rightly lambasts the conduct, calling it consistent with workplace bullying.
Says the report: Martin was taunted on a persistent basis with sexually explicit remarks about his sister and his mother and at times ridiculed with racial insults and other offensive comments... The report rejects any suggestion that Martin manufactured claims of abuse after the fact to cover up an impetuous decision to leave the team. Others were also bullied, the investigation found.
Incognito, for his part, had already dismissed the report two days before the release, saying to the NFL Network that the facts clearly show the allegations are false and there was no bullying. The NFL should respond differently. The Miami Dolphins locker room is not likely an anomaly.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said last week the league wants to ensure a comfortable workplace environment for openly gay college football player Michael Sam should he come to the league. That environment should be in place for everyone.
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