Monday, May 11, 2015

The (Absolute) Least We Can Do

While other states, mostly those that aren't busy trying to dictate women's reproductive health and make sure there are guns in every home, business and classroom, have increased the minimum wage, our legislators are still mostly not sure if that's necessary.  In 2015, there are 29 states which have increased the minimum to wage to levels above the federal minimum wage.

Now, the fact that we have to do that anyway really reflects just how out-of-touch our Congress is with the needs of its citizens.  Not only do our elitist senators and representatives assume that their extraordinary wages and benefits (and extra goodies) are well deserved, they just can't see a need for their constituents to be making a living wage.  Of course this represents the philosophy that what goes into the pockets of American workers is going to come out of the pockets of the millionaires and billionaires who are the people they really truly work for.  Out-of-touch meaning really far away from the rest of us, and pretty much holding hands with guys like the Kochs.

But it is what it is, and it's good that states have recognized that waiting for Congress to do the right thing is decidedly the wrong thing.

And here in South Carolina, there is a bill in the Senate, S 146, which proposes to put the question of raising our state minimum wage on the 2016 ballot.  We don't want to rush into anything here, because those who are struggling to try to live on the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour sure wouldn't have a problem waiting.  And of course raising the minimum wage to $1 an hour over the federal rate would hardly be called providing people with a livelihood.

We've heard all the lame arguments about why idiots like Jim DeMint (remember him???) are opposed to increasing the minimum wage:  it's only kids who live at home that make the minimum wage, it would be so costly to employers that they would have to cut jobs, it's anti-American for the government to set a minimum wage.  DeMint may be hiding out at the Heritage Foundation instead of wasting space in Congress, but folks like Tim Scott are happy to fill his expensive shoes.  So we aren't going to see a reasonable federal minimum wage anywhere in the near future.

And the fact is, it takes so long to move our federal lawmakers to increase the minimum wage that by the time it goes into effect it is still too low to make a dent.

But we got what we got, and what we got here in South Carolina is S 146.  And on Wednesday, May 13, at 10 a.m., the bill will go before a Senate Labor, Commerce and Industry Subcommittee.  Here are the members of the subcommittee, and their phone numbers:

Kevin Bryant, Chairman (R) -- 803-212-6320; 864-202-8394
Glenn Reese (D) -- 803-212-6108; 864-592-2984
Shane Massey (R) -- 803-212-6024; 803-480-0419
Kent Williams (D) -- 803-212-6000; 843-362-0307
Lee Bright (R) -- 803-212-6008; 864-576-6742

Or you can send an email by going to, click on "Senate" and then click on "email" and then click on the senator's name.  Unfortunately, you can't do it as a group but you can copy and paste your message in each email.  Put S 146 in the Subject line, and be sure to begin the message by 1) saying if you are a constituent (you don't have to be a constituent to write, but if you are you should let the guy know) and 2) saying "Please support S-146, to allow South Carolina voters to decide on whether there should be an increase in the minimum wage."

Then you can add a sentence or two stating that people can't live on $7.25 an hour, a raise in the minimum wage would take people off the food stamp rolls, an increased minimum wage would put more money into the economy and be good for business in South Caroline, etc.  Don't worry about your literary skills, some of these guys are minimally literate anyway.  They just need to see how many of us are behind this ballot measure.

This is what I just sent to each member of the committee (yeah, even Lee Bright):

I am writing to urge you to support S 146 which would allow voters to decide whether the minimum wage in South Carolina should be raised.
Raising the minimum wage would be a boon to the economy, as the increased wages would be spent in businesses throughout the state.  It would make employees less dependent on government assistance to survive.
Please vote Yes on this bill.

And here's another thing you can do:  you can go to the Statehouse on Wednesday to lobby for a raise in the minimum wage.  Nothing makes a legislator want to say yes than having to look a constituent in the eyes.  If you are able to make it up to Columbia, would like to sign up for a ride, or would like more information, contact Loreen Myerson at: or 415-637-9119.

Our legislators can do this, but they need to know we are watching.

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