Sunday, June 5, 2016

Yes, The Minimum Wage Was Always Supposed To Be A Living Wage

Image Source: The Socialist 
Brandon Turbeville
June 5, 2016

Ever since the minimum wage was enacted in 1938, powerful industry and banking interests have lobbied against it and, logically, against the prospect of ever raising it. The reasoning behind such large corporations and banks’ opposition to the federal minimum wage statutes and the subsequent increase in wage payments is simple enough to understand. However, much of their public crowing over the issue has hidden the greed behind their arguments into carefully crafted propaganda that has unfortunately been eaten up by many members of the general public, themselves suffering under wage stagnation and the prospect of poverty.

Fear over loss of jobs, automation, and reduced profits have all been trotted out as a defense against the raising of the minimum wage and, in some more extreme elements, even against the concept of the minimum wage itself.

One of the more common rebuttals one might be accustomed to hearing from opponents in regards to the minimum wage is that “The minimum wage was never meant to be a living wage. It was originally meant to simply be an entry-level wage.”

In other words, according to these critics, the minimum wage was merely set to establish an entry-level wage so that a worker could gain some experience in a trade, but it was never meant to provide that worker with a livable wage by which he could support himself or a family. Such is the response repeated by many free market proponents and often generally well-meaning people who have been woefully mislead by Wall Street and corporate interests.

The argument, however, no doubt promoted by Wall Street and free-market fetishists, simply does not have any basis in reality. Whatever one may think about the minimum wage, there can be little doubt that the minimum wage was indeed meant to be a living wage. One need only look at the statements of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the father of the American minimum wage, to see such is the case.

In regards to the minimum wage, Roosevelt said:

In my Inaugural I laid down the simple proposition that nobody is going to starve in this country. It seems to me to be equally plain that no business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country. By "business" I mean the whole of commerce as well as the whole of industry; by workers I mean all workers, the white collar class as well as the men in overalls; and by living wages I mean more than a bare subsistence level-I mean the wages of decent living. 
Throughout industry, the change from starvation wages and starvation employment to living wages and sustained employment can, in large part, be made by an industrial covenant to which all employers shall subscribe. It is greatly to their interest to do this because decent living, widely spread among our 125,000,000 people, eventually means the opening up to industry of the richest market which the world has known. (1933, Statement on National Industrial Recovery Act
“Do not let any calamity-howling executive with an income of $1,000 a day, who has been turning his employees over to the Government relief rolls in order to preserve his company’s undistributed reserves, tell you – using his stockholders’ money to pay the postage for his personal opinions — tell you that a wage of $11.00 a week is going to have a disastrous effect on all American industry.” (1938, Fireside Chat, the night before signing the Fair Labor Standards Act that instituted the federal minimum wage) 
“Without question [the minimum wage] starts us toward a better standard of living and increases purchasing power to buy the products of farm and factory.” (see here)

On this idea, the first part of the Act proposes to our industry a great spontaneous cooperation to put millions of men back in their regular jobs this summer. The idea is simply for employers to hire more men to do the existing work by reducing the work hours of each man's week and at the same time paying a living wage for the shorter week. (June 16, 1933 – Presidential Statement on N.I.R.A.)

Without commenting on the crimes of Roosevelt in other areas, the minimum wage was a clearly beneficial statute that helped lift the United States out of a culture of gross overwork, low pay, and general impoverishment in which it had existed before its establishment. The minimum wage was a step in the right direction in the midst of many other mis-steps by the U.S. government. The minimum wage was, of course, largely brought about because of the tireless fight by the labor movement and workers who had suffered under corporate, industrial, and banking oppression but were not content to continue doing so.

Thus, whatever one thinks of the minimum wage – that it should be raised, kept the same, lowered, or even eliminated – there can be little doubt that it was indeed always meant to be a living wage.

Image Source: The Socialist

Brandon Turbeville – article archive here – is the author of seven books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 andvolume 2, The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria, and The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President. Turbeville has published over 650 articles on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s radio show Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. His website is He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact

This article may be freely shared in part or in full with author attribution and source link.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.