In what could become remembered as a historic event (really, it probably won't), President Obama's State of the Union speech laid out a bold proposal for dramatically reducing gun violence, overall crime, assaults against women and the preservation of marriage. He did all of this with one sentence, and the Republicans will fight him until the last billionaire to stop it. He wants to raise the minimum wage to $9/hour.
Yes, raising the minimum wage will have a dramatic effect on all of these things in ways no other legislation can. With Boner running the House, the leader of the Free World might has well asked for unicorns, it ain't gonna happen on the orange guy's watch. For Obama, it was strictly a political move. If he was seeking a policy based on economics and social justice, he would demand no less than $11/hour to get American back up to 1938 minimum wage standards.
A wage standard that propelled what was then a collapsed nation, a nearly failed state into the becoming economic powerhouse that took on the world at war and won, then dominated the planet for the next half century. Okay, okay, there were a few other things from the New Deal and the war planning of FDR that made a difference, but this was the foundation that it was all built upon. This is why the Republicans have fought against it so ferociously ever since.
Why did Obama only go halfway? It's because two dollars these days seems pretty small. Hell, I don't think Canada even bothers with dollar bills anymore, they have a real economy. Four dollars still sounds like real money to most Americans, most places it will still buy you a beer. Obama is trying to shame Republicans yet again, and he's gotten pretty good at it. Most people would rather have the clap than live next door to a Republican Congressman, penicillin won't clear up your member of Congress.
The fact is that the economic recovery is entirely dependent on people making enough to live on. New numbers out this week show that nearly half of Americans literally live paycheck to paycheck, of course a big fraction of those people aren't living paycheck to paycheck, they're steadily falling behind. There is a reason that the Republicans constantly obsess over 'wealth re-distribution', they've been redistributing it upward in a big way. New numbers show that since the Bush Crash the 99% at the bottom have lost ground, while the one percent have cashed in big time, especially the few dozen billionaire at the top. The 47% of Americans made famous by Romney have really taken a beating.
Rightwingers continue to chant the talking points provided to them by the billionaires, talking points that favor only the billionaires. They claim that the Minimum Wage should be zero, and then the job creators would be set free. The Walmart heirs by themselves now hold more wealth than the bottom 40% of Americans. Ironically those same 40% of people see Walmart as something good, even if it's becoming increasingly inaccessible to them.
Walmart employees don't shop there, they go to the Dollar store, the food bank and the charity thrift store. They collect food stamps and earned income rebates on their income tax returns, while their kids get subsidized school lunch so that they can eat a full meal once or twice a day. They get their healthcare from medicaid, if they're lucky enough to live in a state that doesn't steal that from them too.
The cities they live in give millions to Walmart while their police and fire departments go unfunded, and at the same time the working poor are targeted for municipal 'service' fees, and are subject to arbitrary fines to raise 'revenue' for local government. It's easy for a law abiding citizen to find themselves in a 'probation trap' because they can't afford a lawyer to fight a trumped up charge. They then make endless payments to local government in a Jean Valjean scenario where a single late payment to the corporation that acts for the court gets them years more of probation and mandatory 'administration' payments, when no actual crime was ever committed. That's if they're lucky enough to avoid being sentenced to Montreuil-sur-Mer, the corporate prison where your sentence can be extended to life for trivial offenses.
Yes, we can end Les Misérables, and Obama's words can put that in motion. But, Obama isn't going to do it for you. You must do it for yourselves. Now is the time: Liberté, égalité, fraternité. www.prairie2.com