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Great news for you Horatio Algers! There are now more than 10 million people in the world who are millionaires or better. See, it’s easy to get rich, so join the club!
Meanwhile, those of you at the other end of the economy can take heart, too. While you might not be millionaires yet, the good news is that America’s minimum wage is up by 70 cents. Wow – if you work an 8-hour day, you could buy about a gallon and a third of gasoline with that! See, everyone is doing well.
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While Washington has been lavish in its rush to bail out Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and who-knows-who’ll-be-next, it has been mingy in establishing a wage floor that allows people who do some of our country’s toughest, dirtiest jobs to make even the barest of ends meet. The new level – $6.55 an hour (or, a gross of about $13,000 a year) – doesn’t begin to deal with $4 gasoline, $4-a-gallon milk, rising rents, utilities, bus fares, child care, and other essentials. Indeed, just to bring the floor up to the value of the minimum wage of 40 years ago, it would have to be $10 an hour today.
Congress, which is talking about extending tax breaks to boost the incomes of millionaires and billionaires, is having no discussions about lifting the working poor to a living-wage level. Yes, Washington did pass that economic stimulus plan, sending one-time checks of up to $600 most Americans. Yet, while this took $100 billion out of our public treasury, it did nothing to stimulate the economy – indeed, the billions largely were swallowed up by gas pumps, further bloating the wealth of Big Oil.
America has been practicing the “tinkle-down” economics for years, and it has failed us – both economically and morally. Time for some percolate-up economics.
“Earth now has 10.1 million millionaires, who’ve amassed $40.7 trillion in wealth,” Austin American Statesman, June 25, 2008.
“Minimum wage rises today, but $6.55 per hour does not go far,” Austin American Statesman, July 24, 2008.
“As Rebates Run Their Course,” The New York Times, July 27, 2008.