Robert Samuelson omitted three important points in his Sunday column (“The minimum wage muddle”). First, workers earning the current minimum wage — $7.25 per hour — are worse off than those who earned it 40 years ago. Adjusting for inflation, the federal minimum wage dropped 20 percent from 1967 to 2010.
Second, unlike tax cuts for millionaires, raising the minimum wage will put money into the hands of people who really need it and will spend it, thereby helping businesses and growing the economy.
Third, as economist Paul Krugman pointed out on the same page (“Rich man’s recovery”), “95 percent of the gains from the economic recovery since 2009 have gone to the (top) 1 percent,” and “more than 60 percent of the gains went to the top 1 percent, people with annual incomes of more than $1.9 million.”
We are living in a time of great economic inequality — with a few super-rich people and many people struggling to make ends meet. Is this the kind of society we want?