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The Next Experiment
Doing The Math
- Health Care Now a Human Rightin Vermont | Labor Notes
Vermonts health care unions and grassroots activists celebrated Thursday as the governor signed into law the nations first bill authorizing health care for all residents as a human right.
- Raise The Minimum Wage
RaisetheMinimumWage.com is a project of the National Employment Law Project. Working with state and national advocates and legislators, the National Employment Law Project is committed to rebuilding the wage floor for low-wage workers in the US.
- 2011 Poverty Guidelines, Federal Register Notice
This notice provides an update of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) poverty guidelines to account for last calendar year's increase in prices as measured by the Consumer Price Index.
- UniversalLivingWage.org--Universal Living Wage Formula
The concept is simple. It is based on the premise that if a person works 40 hours a week, then he/she should be able to afford basic housing. We use two existing Federal guidelines to determine what the Universal Living Wage should be.
Laboratories of Equality?
The American Right, perhaps due to the infatuation that many of them have with the Confederate States of America, like to claim they are proponents of letting the States make their own decisions. When those decisions are to bust unions, or harass voters , there are cheers and toasts of 'Tea'.
But what about when a State decides to pursue a policy that advances justice and equality. We've seen how the American Right and it's fundamentalist allies respond when states decide to make same-sex marriage legal. I can only imagine what Beck and Limbaugh had to say when Vermont passed legislation to potentially bring Canadian-style 'single-payer' health care to the US, even if it's only in one state.
But what should be the next great experiment? Why not have some forward-thinking state pass a law calling for a living minimum wage?
Under the current minimum wage of $7.15 an hour, a person would make about $14,300. That does not account for taxes or other deductions. And with much of the 'bottom' of the US economy consisting of low-wage, service-sector, 'McJobs', there are likely a lot of people and families barely surviving at this level.
The first thing that a state would need is a formula to determine what the living wage should be. Universal Living Wage may have a solution to this. Their formula actually defines the wage based on the fair market price of a one-bedroom apartment and that no more than %30 of ones income should be spent on housing.
For example, for my current county of residence, the fair market price for a 1-bedroom apartment is $627. Based on that, my monthly income should be $2090. Multiplying this by 12 months yields an annual gross income of 25080. Dividing this figure by 2080 annual hours, an attempt to account for those months where there are five weeks, gives an hourly wage of $12.05.
There are questions that arise from this. First is, how often should the wage be adjusted? I believe that it should be adjusted annually, and indexed for inflation. A second issue is those under the age of 18? The idea of being able to make over $25,000 a year working at a Wal-Mart or McDonalds could encourage young people to drop out. Those under the age of 18, or those who do not have their diploma or GED would be paid a lower wage, perhaps something closer to $8-$9 an hour.
Resistance to this would come from those who stand to lose the most from this legislation. The company's that make up the 'McEconomy'; Wal-Mart, Target, etc. They'd surely put pressure on any state's legislature and legislators who would advance this idea.
But that resistance would likely show where those companies, and their CEO's loyalties lie.