Huffpost Black Voices
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Rev. Al Sharpton Headshot

Minimum Wage vs. Maximum Greed

Posted: Updated:

If anyone believes even for a brief moment that corporations are in the business of hiring more people, he/she just might be temporarily delusional. Let's be honest and keep it real: businesses are consistently looking to grow their profits. And there's nothing wrong with that, we live in a capitalist society after all. But the problem arises when workers keeping those businesses running cannot even afford to keep the lights on in their own homes. When CEOs and those in charge argue that they do not want to raise the minimum wage so that they can hire more workers, nothing could be further from the truth or more insulting. It appears that we're locked in a battle of minimum wage vs. maximum greed.

The Economic Policy Institute released an eye-opening report in 2012 which indicated (among other things) that even in periods of recession and high unemployment, minimum wage increases do not cause job losses. The report, like others, also highlights the fact that raising the minimum wage is a job creation tool because low-income families who make those wages almost immediately spend that money on basic needs and goods. Corporations on the other hand, are likely to hold on to that money and not spend it, and therefore do not help grow the local economy. If raising the minimum wage is a win-win situation for workers, families, job growth and the economy, why in the world would we hesitate to do it?

If we can deregulate banking, provide tax breaks for big businesses and other incentives, than we can push for worker's rights. The inequality gap in the nation is simply out of control. We have more and more people working two or three jobs just to make ends meet (and in many cases, still unable to do so), while we have millionaires and billionaires sitting in their penthouses and luxury homes looking down upon the rest. There is nothing wrong with amassing wealth and being successful, more power to you. But it cannot be done on the backs of those who do the tough daily work for such little pay. There should be absolutely no reason why an individual that is working full-time still has to collect food stamps in order to survive. It is unconscionable and just sickening.

According to a piece written by Gene Sperling and Alan Krueger last year, women make up 60 percent of those who would benefit from a minimum wage increase. As more and more women are the main breadwinners and the head of households across the country, how can we not fight for their right to provide for themselves and their children? If a child goes to school hungry, do we really expect that child to be able to pay attention and get a good education? In a nation as powerful and advanced as ours, we are leaving far too many behind -- especially in the next generation.

If you ask Americans, most of them are in favor of increasing the minimum wage, and many states have already led the way. Maybe if corporations and those in charge of them were honest about their reasons for not raising the minimum wage, we could at least have a real dialogue. But let us quit playing ourselves: employers are not fighting this struggle so that they can hire more people. They want to maximize profits, bottom line.

It may seem like a daunting task when you have the marginalized worker going against the massive conglomerate. But remember that people have the numbers, and tremendous power when they unite behind a cause. There is possibly no cause as urgent at this moment as raising the minimum wage. If we would like to keep America as the land of opportunity and upward mobility, then that reality needs to exist. We cannot be a country where only those born with a silver spoon in their mouths go on to live in gated mansions. After all, this nation was founded by the disenfranchised who wanted to ensure that it would be a place for the pursuit of ideas and dreams.

In this battle of minimum wage vs. maximum greed, I'm rooting for the underdog.