Columns » Hightower

Our 'unethical' $7.25 an hour




Anyone who works full-time ought not live in poverty. Period.

Raising the minimum wage above the poverty level is not a question of economics (even though it would be a big plus for our economy), but a question of morality.

Who are we as a people, a nation — especially in the richest nation in the world — if we dishonor the work ethic with a wholly unethical wage floor? It's disgraceful, which is why three out of four Americans support raising the floor, including a majority of Republicans.

Yet, the wage stays stuck at the unconscionable level of $7.25 an hour because Republican leaders are stuck on the low-wage dogma dictated by corporate elites.

At a forum in April, GOP congress critter Dennis Ross of Tampa was confronted by a fast-food worker who asked him to support a minimum wage hike. "Who's going to pay for it?" snapped Ross, who's paid $174,000 a year by us taxpayers.

A person in the audience rose to say he'd gladly pay a little more for a hamburger so workers could be paid a decent wage — a comment that prompted applause from the crowd. Yet Ross railed against the very idea of a minimum wage: "If the government's going to tell me how much I can get paid ... then we have a serious problem in this country."

Yes, we do have a serious problem, and its name is Dennis Ross. Or, let's call it Lamar Alexander.

The Republican senator from Tennessee said of the minimum wage, "I do not believe in it." Indeed, he "believes" in the immorality of letting executive-suite kleptocrats set sub-sub-sub-subpoverty pay scales to impoverish America's workforce.

Or, how about John Boehner, the GOP Speaker of the House: He's gone operatic on the issue, declaring that he would "commit suicide before I vote [to raise the] minimum wage."

These guys aren't just out of touch — they're nuts!

Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit

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