Raising the minimum wage

Updated: Friday, February 21, 2014
Raising the minimum wage story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The White House effort to raise the minimum wage nearly three dollars-an-hour over the next two years has drawn huge criticism from the right.

But our Tom Van Howe, who tonight is back in his corner, says once you get past the rhetoric, a wage hike for some of our poorest people is an idea that’s long overdue.

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Are there problems with this new wage proposal? Sure. There are with any new law.

But getting straight to the heart of the matter: getting by--assuming you’re working full-time--on less than $15,000 a year is no picnic. This proposed wage hike would put a substantial amount of cash--something like $100 a week--in the pockets of more than 16 million workers.

It would move roughly a million people out of poverty.

And guess what those workers will do with that extra money? They’ll spend it. They’ll pump billions of new dollars back in to local markets.

One writer for a national magazine says those billions don’t mean that much in our $17-trillion dollar economy; that it’s hardly worth the effort.

He’s missing the point.

It would mean working people, young and old, would get a 30 percent wage increase. These are working people. These are not people on the dole. We’re not talking about handouts or welfare fraud.

And while twenty grand a year is hardly the American dream, it’s a step toward dignity...Toward a tiny bit of breathing room.

Republicans are citing a Congressional Budget Office report that says a wage increase will cost us a million jobs.

Well, that’s not quite what it said. The CBO report  was vague  and said the hike could cause the loss of somewhere between none and a million jobs. Many economists are leaning toward the White House  view that job loss will be at the low end of the spectrum.

Some job loss is probably inevitable. It’ll push some employers to cut back, others to accelerate automation. But that’ll happen eventually anyway.

And before you absorb all the anti-wage hike rhetoric, take a closer look at the growing disparity between the people we’re talking about here and the incredibly rich.

  • Even at $10.10 an hour, the U.S. minimum wage will be lower after adjustments for inflation that it was in 1975.

  • The 85 richest people on earth have the same amount of wealth as the lower half of the world’s population.

  • Those 85 people are just a handful of the richest one percent who have 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the population. Sixty-five times!

  • American corporations have more than $2 trillion tucked away in off-shore and foreign banks to avoid the reach of the IRS. Actually, its probably more than that. We don’t know for sure.

  • In this country, since the start of the recovery four years ago, 95 percent of the gains have gone to the top 1 percent. No trickle down. They got two great tax cuts in the last decade, but nothing trickled down.

  • CEO's are still taking home 300 times the earnings of the average worker.

So can someone please give me a convincing argument that those who struggle most don’t  deserve $2.85 an hour more than they’re getting now?

In this corner...I’m Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on July 06, 2015 17:13 GMT

GREECE-BAILOUT

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- A top Greek official says the government is "moving immediately"" to reach a deal with its creditors "as soon as possible" in order to stave off economic collapse.

Government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis said Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has sought support from all political party leaders and that the government is "fully aware of how crucial the situation is."

Tsipras met with rival party leaders a day after Greeks soundly rejected a proposal by creditors for more austerity measures in exchange for rescue money.

Sakellaridis said the leaders couldn't ignore the people's message for a viable deal that would be fair to the poor, deal with Greece's massive debt and restore liquidity to the hobbled banking system.

GREECE-BAILOUT: IMF

ATHENS-Greece (AP) -- International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde says the fund stands "ready to assist Greece if requested to do so."

Her statement is the IMF's first reaction to Sunday's decision by Greek voters to reject further austerity measures in return for bailout loans.

Greece is in arrears to the IMF, having failed to pay a 1.5 billion-euro ($1.7 billion) loan due last Tuesday. The IMF said it couldn't get involved in a further bailout of Greece if the country remained in arrears.

The IMF last week also said that Greece would need debt relief as well as new financing worth more than 60 billion euros through 2018 to avoid financial collapse.

Greece is expected to meet with its creditors tomorrow.

GREECE-BAILOUT-REACTION

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- On the streets of Athens, Greeks are proud of their toughness and defiance after Sunday's landslide "no" vote against creditors' demands -- but they acknowledge there's still plenty to worry about.

George Papadokostakis, a 34-year-old coffee shop owner, says he's very happy with the referendum result. He says "something happened last night with the Greek people. ... we were in a dead-end situation (but) with the `no' vote we believe there may be something better."

Shoe store worker Nicky Zachary thinks Greeks are tough and united in rejecting austerity. She says "we can live with very little and we can live through difficult situations. And I think after the referendum, the Greek people are united."

GREECE-BAILOUT-TSIPRAS

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Greece's defense minister says three opposition parties have signed a declaration backing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (TSEE'-prahs) in bailout negotiations with creditors.

That makes a total of five parties behind the prime minister, who already had the support of his own Syriza (SEER'-ih-zah) party and the junior party in the governing coalition, the Independent Greeks.

Defense Minister Panos Kammenos says the support heralds a "new era" in Greek politics and would boost Athens' chances of reaching a deal with European and international creditors.

Tsipras convened a meeting of party leaders today, a day after winning a bailout referendum that rejected creditors' previous demands. Following the vote, Greece's finance minister resigned, and he's already been replaced.

GREECE-BAILOUT: FINANCE MINISTER

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- The Greek government has named Euclid Tsakalotos as the country's new finance minister, a day ahead of an emergency meeting with creditors in Brussels.

The 55-year-old economist was Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' lead bailout negotiator in talks that halted last month before Tsipras called a bailout referendum. In that referendum, Greeks overwhelmingly voted against recent creditor proposals required for bailout cash.

Tsakalotos replaces fellow-economist Yanis Varoufakis who quit earlier Monday, saying his departure would help bailout negotiations reach an agreement.

GREECE-BAILOUT: FITCH

UNDATED (AP) -- Credit ratings agency Fitch says Greece's `no' vote in Sunday's austerity referendum "dramatically increases" the risk of the country leaving the eurozone.

Fitch said a deal between Greece and its creditors remains possible but that there's little time. The agency said the resignation of Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis signals the Greek government's desire to again start talking with its creditors.

It said creditors could make stronger commitments on easing Greece's huge debt but were unlikely to make big concessions on austerity measures. In addition, Fitch said the European Central Bank may find a way to provide hobbled Greek banks with additional liquidity while negotiations continued.

Markets steadied on the news of Varoufakis' resignation to not register further falls. Germany's DAX ended 1.5 percent lower, while the euro was up 0.8 percent on the day just below $1.11.

ECONOMY-SERVICES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. service firms grew at a slightly faster pace in June, as business activity and new orders increased.

The Institute for Supply Management says its services index edged up to 56 in June from 55.7 in May. Any reading over 50 indicates that services firms are expanding.

Steady hiring over the past year has fueled a consumer spending rebound from a winter slump. Many economists say the economy will expand at an annual rate of 2.5 per cent in the second quarter, after shrinking during the first three months of 2015.

Still, the index's hiring component slipped in June to 52.7 from 55.3 in May, which indicates that the rate of job growth might slow.

JAPAN-HONDA

TOKYO (AP) -- Honda's new CEO is promising to take more time in product development, and to bring his company together as a team to avoid the quality lapses that have led to shrinking profits at the Japanese automaker.

Takahiro Hachigo, an engineer who has worked in the U.S. as well as China, talked to reporters today after his appointment was approved by shareholders and the company board.

Honda's brand image has suffered after a series of massive recalls for popular vehicles in Japan, as well as for defective Takata air bags in global markets.

Hachigo's promise to turn the company around centers on raising the efficiency of global manufacturing and delivering on what he calls Honda-like products. But he's been a little short on specifics.

SKINNY OREOS

NEW YORK (AP) -- These Oreos are for adults. That's what the parent company of the Nabisco treat is saying about the new "Oreo Thins."

Mondelez International says Oreo Thins still have the same cookie to cream ratio, but they're thinner. And each cookie is 140 calories as opposed to the 160-calorie regular Oreo cookie.

Mondelez calls Oreo Thins a "sophisticated" snack for grown-ups that isn't meant to be twisted or dunked.

The thinner cookie joins the permanent lineup of Oreo cookies starting next week in the U.S.

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