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The Hunger Games: Up Minimum Wage and Keep Your Tax Cuts

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As Republicans advocate keeping tax cuts for the rich, why not raise the minimum wage for the least of us? Do both. How is that for a Congressional compromise?

Women especially have an important stake in this. Nearly two-thirds of all workers making at or below the federal minimum wage are women. Both parties are vying for the women's vote in November.

Chicago's Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) has introduced legislation to raise the federal minimum wage to $10 an hour from the current $7.25. It's on his website, The Catching Up To 1968 Act of 2012 - A $10 Per Hour Minimum Wage. Standing with him are Representative John Conyers (D-Mich.), Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, founded by Ralph Nader.

Also for those getting tips, the wage paid by the employer would be 70 percent of the minimum wage but not less than $5.50 an hour, and it would be adjusted annually.

It is not without significance that Jackson introduced this legislation on June 6th, the anniversary of World War II's D-Day. That's the day in 1944 when the Battle of Normandy began. It ended with the Allies liberating Western Europe from the control of the Axis Powers (Germany, Japan and Italy) later that summer. It wasn't the end of World War II. They would go on to fight another year. But it was a big turning point in our favor.

So on this historic anniversary, let's storm the shores and liberate our own people. If our country could win two world wars, we can win the war on poverty. Let's raise the minimum wage to a living wage. Stop the hunger games.

If this becomes law, the minimum wage would be raised immediately to $10 per hour 60 days after it is enacted, instead of incrementally -- drip by drip -- over a period of years as in the past with minimum wage hikes.

Most importantly, the minimum wage would be indexed to increases in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) which should have been done long ago. As the CPI increases, so would the minimum wage without having to go back and enact more legislation.

Representativ Jackson maintains to fix the underlying weakness of our economy, we must boost aggregate demand and increase the purchasing power of low-wage workers. According to Jackson, research from the Economic Policy Institute, has shown no job losses from raising the minimum wage even when the economy is struggling.

If this bill were passed, it could affect some 30 million workers.

Says Jackson, "I want to especially thank Ralph Nader for encouraging me to introduce this legislation. While he has not been able to secure the presidency, he has been right on the issues and for his vast contributions to the betterment of our country, every American should be grateful.

Nader and Jackson point out historically raising the minimum wage to keep up with inflation, has been quite popular. Polls show support by 70 percent of the American people. That's a lot of voters. Just make sure they are all registered and know where their polling places are. Doesn't hurt to carpool too on Election Day.

With all the Republican hollering about not touching tax cuts, saying they can't afford it -- you can't afford to have people starving in the streets either. If for no other reason than they might break into your homes or stores to get some food to eat. Then your insurance rates would go up. Or you might have to spend some money on a security system. Oh, I forgot. You have guns.

What do you think the Occupy Movement has been all about? Starving people. Families deciding whether to make the mortgage payment or put food on the table. Whether to put food on the table or pay the kids' tuition? The protests continued this weekend in New York City. The Occupy Movement is not over.

It seems as if anyone advocating for the people -- especially the poor, the hungry, the dispossessed -- ends up getting forced from office or we watch them being paraded in handcuffs on their way to jail. As to the latter, I'm talking about the March arrests of comedian Dick Gregory and George Clooney with father Nick among others.

What a trio. Wouldn't you have loved to be a fly on the wall in that jail cell? They should have recorded themselves and sold it on eBay to raise money for food for the poor. Titled "Musings from a DC Jail Cell."

How much did their arrests cost taxpayers? That money could have been given to feed the poor, too. Why not raise the minimum wage so the poor can feed themselves?

Is it simply a coincidence that the wildly popular film and books, The Hunger Games about kids killing each other for food, have surfaced at this time in our nation's history?

"We live in a land of the absurd", says consumer activist Ralph Nader founder of the Center For The Study Of Responsive Law. "The richest one percent controls as much financial wealth as the bottom combined 95 percent."

Nader cites a Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago study from 2011 finding for every dollar increase to a minimum wage worker, the result is $2,800 in new consumer spending from that worker's household over the year.

This is buttressed by a 2009 study of the Economic Policy Institute finding raising the minimum wage to $9.50 would raise consumer spending over a two year period by an additional $60 billion which means more jobs.

African Americans and Hispanics would also greatly benefit from upping the minimum wage. African American employees make up 15 percent of minimum wage workers but only 11.6 percent of the labor force (not counting the military).
Same for Hispanic workers "who comprise 15 percent of the civilian labor force but make up nearly 19 percent of minimum wage workers."

Let's stop the hunger games. This is the Congressional compromise Washington should make. Let the one percenters keep their tax cuts and raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour. Just in time for Flag Day.