I was fortunate enough to attend Sage Dixon’s town hall meeting on Saturday, Jan. 28, in Ponderay. It was my first time meeting with Rep. Dixon, and I really appreciated that he takes the time to meet with his constituents.
I was at the meeting to voice my concern about global climate change. But mostly I listened as Rep. Dixon mentioned his opposition to raising the minimum wage, and I listened to the teachers and parents in the room describe their firsthand accounts of the burdens facing our public schools, many of those burdens a direct result of our public schools having to serve a growing number of children with needs rooted in the common stresses of working poor families. It became clear to me that Rep. Dixon believes that neither business nor government are responsible in ensuring that an American citizen working 30-40 hours a week receive a living wage. My simple definition of a living wage is an income that covers the most basic human needs: food, shelter, transportation and health care. The current minimum wage in Idaho and throughout most of this country does not come close to covering rent, utilities, groceries, car ownership and certainly not health care expenditures.
In the past, I’ve participated in campaigns to try to raise the minimum wage. Of course, the arguments against it are the burdens it will place on small businesses. Fine, I agree, if increasing the minimum wage puts an unfair burden on small businesses then it is the job of our legislators to hash out the details and mitigate the unfair burden but in the final analysis ensure that all American citizens are earning a living wage working 30-40 hours a week. That’s American decency!
The large corporations in this country, such as Walmart, have successfully convinced our elected leaders that any legislation that impacts their profit line is bad for the whole country. Well, I don’t buy it (literally).
If all the hardworking Walmart employees earned at least a living wage, they wouldn’t have to rely on federal and state subsidies such a food stamps and Medicaid. Walmart has the American taxpayer in the palm of its hands. Sorry, Walmart, I don’t mean to single you out but you are any easy target in this discussion.
Can’t most us agree that Americans who work 30-40 hours a week deserve an income that covers the basics? If so, let Sage Dixon know because he needs some persuading.