Nearly a fifth of the population is now steadily moving towards a $15 minimum wage, thanks to laws enacted in California and New York this week. That is roughly double the minimum wage currently mandated by federal law, which might seem a bit pie-in-the-sky to some but actually the increase is staggered over a period of several years in order to ease companies into the new changes, especially small businesses. Progressives say this is a victory for lower wage earners who will now have more spending money, but Republicans are saying it will cause massive job losses and discriminate against lower skilled workers. But will this policy really help to fix the huge problems facing this country?
In states like California and New York, cost of living expenses, tuition and rents are higher than most other states, thus wage hikes are their answer to years of strikes, protests and unhappy citizens. Simply put, wages which are impossible to live on condemn a section of society to living in poverty. And while this single policy won’t heal all wounds, it’s a step in the right direction. This all comes against a backdrop of increasingly volatile anger in middle and working class voters which Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are seeking to capitalize on. That anger intensified in the face of successive governments which failed to address the underlying causes, partly from ignorance and partly from partisan gridlock.
Minimum wage hikes have been sweeping into force all across the country at state and local levels while conservatives in Congress have successfully stonewalled efforts by the White House to raise the federal minimum wage. It is acknowledged that there are some negative effects to legal wage increases, but whether it will be a boost or a blow to the state economy is yet to be determined. But during a current national debate about wealth inequality, this sort of ambitious policy, which goes a little bit of the way towards bridging the gap between income and opportunity, is well worth a second look.
Too much anger in your life? Maybe it’s time to grow up. Movie for your mood: Inside Out