Thursday, May 22, 2014

Make Ends Meet

There's a reason why a number of Southern Nevada's fast food workers took part in #FastFoodGlobal last week. They're working incredibly hard to survive. Yet even as they're working, they're still finding it difficult to survive and make ends meet.

Just look at the numbers Desert Beacon unearthed earlier today. Those numbers tell a sobering story. Even workers who earn slightly more than the minimum wage struggle to make ends meet for their families.

Yet when we've seen Congress debate even a fairly modest increase in the minimum wage, we've heard the usual "job killing" rhetoric from G-O-TEA politicians. Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson) tried it at a Henderson town hall in February. And Senator Dean Heller (R) tried it when he voted against raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. (FYI, #FastFoodGlobal strikers last week were demanding $15 per hour because that's what a parent with child needs just to make ends meet.)

What they fail to acknowledge is that Washington has the highest state minimum wage in the nation... And the highest rate of growth for small business employment last year. They also fail to acknowledge is that San Francisco has the highest municipal minimum wage in the nation... And the highest rate of growth for small business employment. Oh, and Seattle is the #2 city for small business growth. It's the largest city in Washington State, and it's now implementing a plan to #RaiseTheWage to $15 per hour citywide by the end of the decade.

We've yet to figure out how businesses would be hurt by guaranteeing workers' ability to make ends meet. To the contrary, workers with higher wages mean consumers with more income to drop back into the economy. And that ultimately means less poverty and more economic growth.

If anything, our current system isn't working. Case in point: McDonald's, the nation's largest fast food chain. McDonald's low wage business model costs US taxpayers an average of $1.2 billion per year due to McDonald's forcing its workers to utilize the social safety net just to make ends meet. And McDonald's executives are wondering why their company's profits have been so weak lately?

Maybe it's because low wage workers are struggling so hard just to make ends meet that they can't afford to buy their kids a lot of "Happy Meals"? Maybe it's because they've contributed to the inequality gap that's threatening to undo the foundation of this very nation? Maybe it's because their short term avarice has harmed their company's (and this nation's) long term success?

Think about it. How are we supposed to succeed as a society if so many of our people are finding it increasingly difficult just to make ends meet? And how can our democracy function if so few can afford to participate? How will America then be able to make ends meet?

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