Bless our hearts as Edmund Burke quoted: The only thing necessary for the triump of evil is for good men(and women) to...

Minimum wage increase needs consideration


Sunday, March 24, 2019

The minimum wage is now less about pay and more about inequality.

As a practical matter, the minimum wage doesn’t apply to the vast majority of workers. In North Carolina in 2016, only 38,000 out of 2.5 million workers earned exactly the minimum wage. (Another 52,000 workers — mostly youth workers, workers with disabilities and tipped employees — earned less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.)

Nonetheless, the minimum wage is an important indicator of how much a state or local government cares about rising income inequality. The broader significance of increasing the federal minimum wage — the last increase was in 2009 — isn’t what it does for minimum wage earners, but how it creates a pressure to increase the wages of all hourly workers.

And upward pressure is needed. Income inequality is now the greatest in the U.S. since the 1920s. The richest 1 percent now hold 40 percent of the nation’s household wealth. In the 1950s , a typical CEO made 20 times the pay of the average worker in his or her company. Now it’s more than 360 times.

Other states are pushing to narrow this gap by increasing their state minimum wages. On Jan 1, the minimum wage rose in 18 states through ballot measures or an annual adjustment for inflation. Twenty four cities and counties also increased their local minimum wage. North Carolina and states across the South, except for Florida and Arkansas, are holding out against approving a minimum wage above a federal minimum that long ago stopped being a living wage.

But that resistance may be cracking in North Carolina. The Republican-led General Assembly last year agreed to a $15 minimum wage for state employees. UNC Health Care has done the same. Gov. Roy Cooper has called for a minimum wage increase and on Tuesday a group of Democratic state lawmakers introduced legislation. to make it happen.

The bill would increase the minimum wage gradually to $15 an hour by 2024. Thereafter, it would be indexed to inflation. The bill would also gradually increase the minimum wage for tipped workers.

Rep. Susan C. Fisher (D-Buncombe), one of he bill’s sponsors, said the increase is needed to restore the minimum wage to its original purpose — the minimum needed to meet basic needs for food, housing and transportation.

“The minimum wage when it was first passed was not meant to be something you could survive on. It was supposed to be something you could plan with, not just make it. You could plan to buy a car or a house. Nowadays, $7.25 an hour is not going to get you anywhere near that,” she said in an interview.

For example, Fisher said, a minimum-wage worker now would have to work 122 hours a week every week all year to afford a modest apartment.. “People are not surviving on what they are being paid these days,” she said.

A truly representative government would be responsive to that reality, but some lawmakers worry that raising the minimum wage will lead to job losses and higher prices. The experience of states that have raised the wage has shown mixed results, but the overall effect is a healthier wage structure for those just above minimum wage. Fisher estimates that raising the minimum wage to just $12 would benefit 1.3 million workers in North Carolina.

It’s encouraging that Republican House leaders sent the minimum wage bill to the Finance Committee. There may be a hearing, possibly even a floor debate about how to help those at the bottom of the page scale.

And the more lawmakers learn about the minimum wage, the more likely they are to agree on the need to raise it.

The News & Observer of Raleigh


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.


July 21, 2019

“Send her back!”

The racist refrain, soft at first, crescendoed as the crowd at President Donald Trump’s “Keep America Great” rally on Wednesday in Greenville emphatically picked it up. On live television, sitting stage right of the President at East Carolina…


July 04, 2019

As the story goes, our Founding Fathers declared their independence from their mother country 243 years ago today, that the “united colonies are, and of right, ought to be free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown.”

It is a day that…

07-04-19 July 4th Flag2

June 10, 2019

As the election results became clear in 2016, financial markets rose amid a surge of economic optimism. That surge continued for two years as Donald Trump and Republicans pursued a pro-growth agenda of tax reform, deregulation and encouraging domestic energy production. But with Democrats now…

June 08, 2019

Keith Cox served the residents of Virginia Beach in the public utilities department for 12 years.

Well-liked by co-workers, he spent his final moments on Friday working to protect them from a gunman in the municipal center — sacrificing his life in the process.

The remembrance of Cox,…

APTOPIX Virginia Beach Shooting-6

June 04, 2019

Give Harry Smith credit for being willing to do his homework and change his mind.

Smith, the usually outspoken and politically conservative chairman of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors, emerged from a recent board meeting and told reporters that his thinking about what to do…

Confederate Monuments-5

June 03, 2019

Vice President Mike Pence came to Charlotte this week for a 2020 Republican National Convention kickoff event. The visit was a reminder of the discomfort many feel in this progressive city about the 2020 RNC — an uneasiness so deep that Mayor Vi Lyles said last summer that she wouldn’t…

RNC Charlotte 2020-4

June 01, 2019

A state budget is a spending plan, but the proposal the state Senate’s Republican majority presented Tuesday is better described as an anti-spending plan. It is an unalloyed version of Senate leader Phil Berger’s iron-rule of government: Cut taxes and spend the absolute minimum. If…

State Of The State North Carolina-3

May 28, 2019

Around the turn of the last century, the steel magnate Andrew Carnegie paid to build 1,689 libraries across the United States. Many are still in use, celebrated as monumental works of philanthropy.

They should be seen as monuments to the failure of public policy. The United States could have built…

May 27, 2019

If you’re a member of the LGBTQ community — or perhaps anyone who has lived in North Carolina the past decade — you were probably surprised to learn that Thom Tillis is a “pro-LGBTQ Republican.”

It’s true, according to the American Unity Fund, a conservative gay…

Border Security Tillis-2

May 25, 2019

Want to understand how the tariffs on China work? Don’t take President Donald Trump’s word for it.

Here’s what he’s had to say. We’ll follow with why he’s wrong, who really pays and who really suffers (hint, it’s not China or Trump).

First, from…

China Trade-2
39 stories in Editorials. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 4
        Next Page»   Last Page»