WASHINGTON, DC — Green Party leaders today called for a liveable wage for working Americans, in contrast to President Obama’s proposal in his 2013 State of the Union address for a $9 minimum wage to be enacted by 2015.
“Instead of a minimum wage, working people need a wage they can live on. Anyone who works 40 hours a week should be able to afford a home, provide for others, and save money for the future. People who work hard deserve to enjoy economic security and prosperity,” said Mark Dunlea, a member of the Green Party of New York Executive Committee and long-time director of a statewide anti-hunger organization in New York.
“The $9 minimum wage is an inadequate improvement, not enough to lift many people who work hard at full-time and multiple jobs out of poverty and debt. Two generations ago, wage-earners could provide for a family of four on the minimum wage. Today, it’s difficult to provide for one person on the minimum wage, even on President Obama’s $9 minimum, which falls far short of the 1968 federal minimum of $10.50, adjusted for inflation. While worker productivity has increased, wages keep sinking,” said Mr. Dunlea.
The Green Party’s national platform endorses the liveable wage and the guaranteed basic income:
“All workers, temporary or permanent, must be paid a living wage… We support the enactment of living wage laws that apply to all workers. A major consequence of this law will be the lessening of the ever-widening gap between CEOs’ income and workers’ pay… We also support other programs such as a universal basic income (known also as a guaranteed income or Citizen Dividend, as described in True Cost Pricing and Tax Fairness) that will provide for those who nurture the next generation — work that is of incalculable importance to our society.” (http://www.gp.org/committees/platform/2012/social-justice.php#1001797)
Green Party activists noted that a minimum wage that matched current productivity growth would be more than $16.50 an hour (http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/cepr-blog/the-minimum-wage-and-economic-growth) and said that this figure should factor into the calculation for a liveable-wage guarantee.
Greens said that enacting a liveable wage would boost the economy by providing millions more Americans, especially low-income families, with spending power. Establishing a single-payer national health care program (“Medicare For All”) would further ensure individual and national prosperity — while slashing Social Security and Medicare, as President Obama has proposed, would have the opposite effect.
The Green New Deal, advocated by Green candidates including 2012 presidential nominee Jill Stein, calls for the creation of millions of new green jobs that pay liveable wages (http://www.jillstein.org/summary_green_new_deal).
“Democrats and Republicans and media commentators tend to measure the health of our economy according to Dow Jones, profit margins of top corporations, GDP — how much the rich are getting richer. Greens judge the economy by how many Americans have living-wage jobs with benefits, enjoy financial security and good health care, and are moving out of poverty,” said Cheri Honkala, the Green Party’s 2012 nominee for Vice President (http://www.jillstein.org/cheri_honkala).
When Barack Obama campaigned for President in 2008, he promised to raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour. But when the Democrats controlled both houses in Congress, he took no action to raise the wage. Greens said that President Obama’s call for a minimum wage in 2013, when he’s unlikely to get such legislation passed in Congress, seems more about scoring political points than actually raising wages.
“While Wall Street may be celebrating record high stock prices, real wages for average Americans continue to stagnate and decline. The political opposition to liveable wages for people who work hard is not only an admission that unrestrained capitalism doesn’t work. It’s a confession that they don’t really want it to work, except for the One Percent,” said Barry Hermanson (http://www.notmypriorities.org/about-us), member of the California Green Party’s Coordinating Committee and former co-chair of the San Francisco Living Wage Coalition. In 2003, Mr. Hermanson co-authored San Francisco’s minimum wage initiative that improved wages for 54,000 people.
“Obama’s Back-Handed Response To Minimum Wage”
By Ralph Nader, Eurasia Review, February 15, 2013
“40% of Americans Now Make Less Than 1968 Minimum Wage”
By Dave Johnson, The Contributor, February 20, 2013
“Minimum Wage: Who Decided That Hard-Working Americans Should Fall Behind?”
By Dean Baker, February 19, 2013
Universal Living Wage
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