Thursday, June 28, 2007


Congress wants a pay raise of $4400.00 per year, putting them back on track for automatic annual pay raises, after the hiccup caused by the minimum wage debate.

Let's see. Currently minimum wage is $5.15 an hour. Jobs that pay this could include restaurant work, some retail, landscaping, light manufacturing production, and a wide range of clerical positions. That sweet middle aged lady behind the grocery store register could be working for minimum wage. So could that customer service rep you bawled out while your morning coffee was brewing because your newspaper landed in your yard instead of your driveway. So could that guy trimming your hedges. These people would have to work over 854 hours at regular time wage to earn an additional $4400 a year. To break that down, that's a little more than 21 weeks or about 5 months. The upcoming increases in minimum wage to $7.25 an hour over the next two years will mean an increase of $4368 per year per minimum wage worker.

This raise would increase our representative's pay to $170,000 a year. Applying the standard of a 40 hour week for 52 weeks a year to our legislators means they will earn $81.73 an hour. For a member of Congress, $4400.00 is equivalent to an additional 53.84 hours of work.

Let's compare. Five months for a minimum wage worker is equal to six and a half days for a member of Congress. Now, I'm not upset about Congress giving themselves a pay hike or that they earn a comparatively good living. Greater financial remuneration comes with greater responsibility, accomplishment and success, and that's the way it should be. What will $4400 dollars a year mean to a member of Congress? Would it cover the catering at a cocktail party? A few airplane flights back to the home district? It could mean health insurance for a family for an entire year if you're at minimum wage. It could mean tuition. It could mean transportation. All of which could mean a more productive person capable of contributing more to the economy.

Now I know that there are more people on minimum wage than there are members of Congress, and though the coming increase in minimum wage is comparable per person, it will cost more than this pay raise. Which though will end up being a more productive boost to our economy? I wonder if this debate will last as long as the one over minimum wage? Any guesses? Bueller? Bueller?



Blogger Lisa :-] said...

It must be nice to be able to give yourself a raise... Currently, I'm working seventy hours a week for NO salary. So that I can pay my help better than minimum (which is at $7.80 per hr here in Oregon, so the whole federal minimum wage issue is rather moot in this neck of the woods...)

Still, the minimum wage here has gone up less than 100% since the eighties; yet a house I bought for $35,000.00 in 1985 would go for around $200,000.00 today. Gas was eighty cents a it's over $3. Twenty years ago, health insurance was a free or very inexpensive, count on paying at least $5000 a year for anything approaching decent coverage. For ONE person.

Yeah, I think the Congress that has ridden to power on the backs of the increasingly destitute masses deserves a big fat raise... :P

June 28, 2007 12:46 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

I don't have a problem with raising the minimum wage. Beyond part time workers, teenagers, retirees and restaurant and bar servers, I don't think there are really that many people that only make the minimum.

I know a lot of business owners that have a story similar to Lisa. They say it's not possible to hire someone with any kind of work ethic for anywhere near the minimum wage.

As to Congress, our representatives are for the most part a disfunctional and ineffective group of glad handers. Their purpose is to stay in office. That accomplished, if some good can be done, within what each considers good, so be it, but it isn't a priority.

June 28, 2007 5:50 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

June 28, 2007 5:51 PM  
Blogger don't eat alone said...

Letting Congress vote their own raises is leaving the foxes in charge of the hen house. The working poor have to wait for a raise until Congress votes for it. Perhaps the converse should also be true.


June 28, 2007 9:35 PM  
Blogger emmapeelDallas said...

As if the minimum wage being so low weren't bad enough, there are all these people without health insurance...and for years, when my kids were little, we were some of them. Something has to change...


June 29, 2007 12:05 AM  

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