Raise the Damn Minimum Wage

I’ve written before about the pressing need to raise the minimum wage for workers and today, a new poll from Hart Research Associates shows that a large majority of Americans—across income, regional, and even political party differences– would support its increase.


It’s a policy no-brainer. If we want to encourage people to seek work, allow them to escape poverty, and reduce the burden on social services, paying people closer to an amount of money necessary to live healthy and productive lives is an excellent start.

As Lawrence Mishel at the Economic Policy Institute notes, raising the minimum wage is critical to improving the condition of workers and reducing the growing income gap in the U.S.:

The last decade has produced no improvement in real wages of a broad range of workers, including those with either a high school or college degree. It has also produced a widening divergence between overall productivity and the wages or compensation of the typical worker. In addition, wage inequality has continued to grow between those at the top and the rest.

The declining value of the minimum wage has played a key role in these trends. Setting the minimum wage at an appropriate level can help spur broad-based wage growth and move us toward an economy where workers benefit from productivity growth.

As Montana Democrats search for candidates to run for the House and Senate, one of the first questions we should be asking is their position on the minimum wage.  A candidate who can’t support a sensible, popular, and absolutely necessary component of economic justice simply isn’t the candidate for me.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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    • Nonsense. The real danger to the “house of cards” is the increasing concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. Want to stabilize the American economy? Give workers enough money to live.

      • You’re right Don. What was I thinking.

        There’s tons of employers out there right now just waiting for higher mandated wages to massively increase their workforce.

        • Imagine that. Employers don’t want to raise wages. Astonishing. A lot probably also don’t want to contribute to Social Security, too.

          Hardly an argument against giving workers a livable wage and boosting the economy overall.

            • You dropped off down below Ingy. Let’s leave the evidence-free environment now. Please give us your view on Detroit’s problems, causes and possible remedies, short and long tem. Also explain how anything going on there has anything to do with minimum wage, the subject of thismthread. If you want to reinforce your view with a link, fine, but if you want to link and call it your view, p,ease spare us.

  • And on and on Ingy. Odd as it is, there’s never been a valid study or experiment that supports your view that raising the minimum wage harms employers, employees or the economy. Never. There’s been papers written to that effect and postulations about why it should work that way, but it doesn’t.

    I would postulate the opposite, that raising the MW increases demand as those wage earners tend to spend everything they make, and so gives the economy a shot in the arm. There is evidence to support that, though in a chaotic situation as an economy produces, it can never be said that data is conclusive.

    • ~wink~ Don’t mince words, Mark. There is very strong evidence that raising entry-level pay/minimum wage promotes employment, social satisfaction, decreased crime, production of goods and service and economic growth. That would be all the things America needs right now. The only people hurt are over-paid CEOs and market speculators. Oohhh, I’m so concerned for their well being, having to buy yachts, chalets in the Yellowstone club and such that the government not take tax dollars from their hard earned booty.

      • I do weep on occasion when dealing with you, Ingy. You’re right about that. You did what you always do – google until you find one article that supports you, or in this case, that you thinks supports you. Here’s a revealing sentence from your link:

        “Sometimes, unsophisticated observers will point out that the last time the minimum wage went up, the local McDonald’s was not observed to lay off any workers.”

        “Unsophisticated” apparently means that when reality trumps theory, reality must be changed. In this case, your authors merely changed reality to mean that McDonalds would have hired more workers without the minimum wage increase. That, of course, is unknowable, and so is a perfect fit for neoclassical economics, once called “Voodoo” by an adherent.

        I know of one study that had a laboratory opportunity, an increase in the minimum wage in one state but not the neighboring one. It’s called Card Krueger, and is worth your time.


        (Rob, if raising the minimum wage has a positive outcome in terms of increased demand, then CEO’s are not hurt by it either, it would appear. )

        • My link trumps your googled link Mark.

          “4. Sometimes, unsophisticated observers will point out that the last time the minimum wage went up, the local McDonald’s was not observed to lay off any workers. This of course ignores the question of how rapidly McDonald’s will hire new workers, and the even more important questions of how many McDonald’s there will be in the long run, and how they’ll eventually adjust their production methods so fewer workers are needed.”

          An example of this would be our local McDonalds where they recently did an upgrade to the pop dispensers. Instead of having a new worker run and get a Mountain Dew the order computer signals the dispenser to feed a cup into a holder add ice and then liquid. The only labor part is installing the lid and handing over the order.

          Fast foods do absorb these increases. But that doesn’t mean down the road a machine become a more viable economic option.

          • My link was not “Googled.” I’ve known about Card Krueger for over a decade, even had a mail exchange about it with then-Governor Racicot about it when the minimum wage was on the ballot. He supplied a counter-study of the same data saying that Card and Krueger had misrepresented the results. However, the authors of the counter-study refused to release their data sets and methodology, unscholarly, and so could be dismissed.

            Sorry, Ingy, but I’ve offered evidence (not proof) that increasing the minimum wage had none of the negative outcomes you ascribe to it. You have offered nothing substantial.

            Stay down, Luke. Yer beat.

              • Fool! this was the study I mentioned where the authors refused to share their data sets or methods – that’s SOP as it allows others to replicate the results. It is therefore not valid evidence. Card and Krueger made all of their work transparent and stood behind their work.

                Got anything else? Having never heard of C&K before today, I am quite surprised at your familiarity with their orifices.

              • I might add that there has been furious debate over the matter in the ensuing years, but my initial statement remains: There is no demonstrated correlation between minimum wage and negative employment figures. If you were to argue that the MW is kept so low as to mute any effect when it is finally raised now and then, you’d have something. Then we could do a real impact study.

                But then I’d be making your argument for you. Wouldn’t I.

                • I have troubles with the K/C data set Mark.

                  First of all it was a small sample and it was based on interviews not payroll hard data.

                  Here’s another one with more conclusive data.

                  K/C study mention @ the bottom of page 8, full conclusion on page 30.

                • Good grief, Ingy – this is all stuff that has been covered in depth in the subsequent years. The overarching point is that there is no study that supports the idea of a negative correlation between employment and minimum wage. There is a study that supports the idea that it has no effect, CK. When CK came out it was immediately attacked by the right wing neos, and that’s the source of your 1996 study. Since that time the idea that has resonated more is that our minimum wage is just like a lot of our politics, an illusion. Democrats will raise it in a catch-up fashion, bringing it to where it will go anyway, but never to living wage standards. That’s how it works in our one-party system.

                  The real debate here is whether a high (living) minimum wage deters economic growth, and for that we have to go to countries that have minimum wages two to three times ours, isolate variables and then determine whether their economic indicators are better or worse than ours. The answer turns neoclassical economics on its head, but just about every other part of the real world does too. No surprises.

                • San Francisco has a living wage of 10.55 an hour now for 3 years. the city is exploding with new businesses and Jobs. they have already proven what the Neocons will never even experiment with. that living wages bring prosperity to all

                • Right Ingy???? San Francisco continues to outperform the U.S. economy and all of California. San Jose has followed SF economy and is now considered the fast, hardest working city in the USA. Berkley is implementing it now.

                  The average salaries of workers have jumped to around 60,000 a year and new companies are moving to the larger metropolitan areas there in Droves

                  so what happened to that raise the minimum wages and companies will shut down Bullshit you righties keep spouting?????

                • Budgeism! Ingy is now saying that even though SF is doing OK, it will fail in the future, unprovable, so not subject to debate That’s the usual dodge, a safe harbor for right wing economics.

  • Does anyone on the right not understand the more money in people pockets the More Items bought, the more hired to build Items…. it is pretty damn simple economic plan.

    Then again I keep forgetting the right wing doesn’t like schools who teach arithmetic, history, or critical thinking. they just keeps closing down school systems limiting the school administration budgets of those who are still open, and paying lower wages to teachers.

    That’s their Idea of making economics work. Dumber folk need less if they aren’t smart enough to see they are getting screwed…. Just saying.

  • The fundamental problem of the political Left seems to be that the real world does not fit their preconceptions. Therefore they see the real world as what is wrong, and what needs to be changed, since apparently their preconceptions cannot be wrong.

    A never-ending source of grievances for the Left is the fact that some groups are “over-represented” in desirable occupations, institutions, and income brackets, while other groups are “under-represented.”
    -Thomas Sowell’

  • No thats the rights problem Ingy. its like you didn’t even grow up with the same public education as the left, Nor do you center your lives in any realistic way.

    As a group of Republican controlled states, you have already proven yourselves as horrible economists your still in the red, and in need of more federal handouts than the rest of the country health wise, and money wise. Democratic states have broke even since the 2008 crash or now find themselves in the black. they have typically paid federal dollars to cover your asses in red states.

    And the majority of those democratic states people are far wealthier, breath better air, have far more clean water, and a healthier lifestyle. they have health insurance. the people who want to own guns still do. you can see the mountains around LA now, while the air Quality of Texas is so bad at times. they ask even in the rural areas for people not to venture outside their homes.

    So Ingy the reality for you is you have none, and if given the chance your party will kill Montana water, air, and heritage for hunting to make it just like the poison pit Texas has become, and has poorly educated and sick as its people.

    News flash Ingy the rich in Texas are buying their retirement homes here, and they are fishing our rivers, cause their isn’t much left of that state for nature.

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