I recently heard Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaking about the minimum wage.
She pointed out that if it were tied to the worker productivity gains of the last few years the minimum wage would now be $22 an hour.
Imagine that. Enough to actually live above the poverty line.
In his State of the Union address, President Obama called for raising the minimum wage to a still low $9 an hour.
Democrats Tom Harkin of Iowa and George Miller of California have a bill pending in Congress that would raise the minimum to $10.10 an hour.
They propose linking it to the cost of living so that it will not go down in real terms every year as is currently the case because of inflation.
Right now, waiters, waitresses and others who work for tips are paid just $2.13 an hour.
When I was a salesman for Siemens Medical Systems I would take people out to dinner during conventions.
These folks who were eating fancy and paying nothing would often tell me to reduce the tip because they thought the service was less than perfect.
I would always ask them if they would still want to cheat the waitres if they knew she was a young mother who was barely able to pay the rent and buy proper clothes for her kids so they could go to school.
Or that she may have had a flat tire on her way to work.
That would shut them up every time.
Then I raised the tip to reinforce my point. It wasn’t my money anyway.
Contrary to the propaganda of the far right, raising the minimum actually pumps up employment for many obvious and some not so obvious reasons.
Of course, all the money from the raises is spent immediately, causing a ripple effect of increased demand throughout the economy.
Not so obvious is the fact that with a significant increase, millions of people can now afford to go to work.
A talented young person can now afford to buy the clothes and even pay for a sitter in order to get back in the work force and enjoy all the pride that goes with having a job.
Transportation costs now keep many from working as well.
Why not raise the minimum wage so many more people can buy gas or pay for a ride to work?
When President Clinton raised the minimum, the economy turned around and we all enjoyed several prosperous years.
People returned to work, tax revenues grew and the budget deficit became a budget surplus, thanks to a higher minimum wage.