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Fight for $20

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Yesterday’s bill in Los Angeles to ease in a $15 minimum wage is great. But it isn’t enough to live on in Los Angeles because housing is so expensive. A $15 minimum wage really just needs to be a first step in the larger fight for living wages for working people.

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  • CP

    I remember reading somewhere that if the minimum wage had continued to be properly adjusted to account for rising cost of living since when it was first introduced, the current MW would be around forty dollars an hour.

    My God, would THAT be beautiful. Although I confess that fifteen an hour already sounds like paradise to me.

    • UserGoogol

      If you adjust for inflation you only get up to like $10/hr. There’s more to cost of living than just inflation, but since $40/hr at full time is more than the per capita GDP, (in principle a massive increase in the minimum wage might increase GDP, but that would be quite a lift) that number don’t really make much sense.

    • Brett

      I’ve read it’s about $25/hr if you increased it to match economy-wide productivity growth. Not that that’s necessarily a good thing – different sectors in the economy have had differing productivity rates.

  • UserGoogol

    Part of me is vaguely pissed off that all the energy to get a living income is being put behind minimum wage increases and not like, a basic income guarantee or wage subsidies or whatever. In an idealized wonk universe it should be easier to implement since you have more flexibility about where to get the money, but of course in the world we live in it’s a hell of a lot easier to expand what people are used to than create a whole new thing, especially since minimum wage laws don’t go on the budget. Plus, with the fight for $15 you can pressure employers directly while with other policies the government is really the only game in town.

    So I mean yeah, increasing the minimum wage is good.

    • Johnny Sack

      Well, as much as I’d like to see a UBI, at the end of the day I’m a pragmatist. Lots of bitching and moaning about minimum wage increases from the usual assholes. But it’s happening, if slowly and modestly.

      Whereas a UBI would be DOA. I’m not happy, for example, that we got the ACA instead of single payer. But I am happy that we got the ACA instead of nothing. It would sure be nice-I think we could pretty much stop worrying about a minimum wage. But it’s at least a generation out. You’d need a filibuster proof number of Democrats who are all or at least mostly to the left of where the median Democrat is today (and even with no filibuster 51 votes for a UBI is still a pretty tall order I think).

      I think I’m overstating that a bit. But you’d need a lot more Browns and Warrens and a lot fewer Manchins and McCaskills. And that takes a while, especially considering the states that the more conservative Democratic Senators are coming from. And then you have the House, which is untouchable in terms of gaining a Democratic majority until at least 2022. Probably 2024, considering how bad we seem to be at voting in midterms.

      If the issue gains traction like healthcare did leading up to the 2008 election, we might be, with a lot of organizing and public awareness, be able to get an ACA-esque UBI compromise in 15 years. I dunno.

      • Redwood Rhiadra

        I’m pretty sure neither Warren nor Brown supports a UBI. Which means you actually need 51+ Senators to the left of *them* (assuming no filibuster). Which isn’t happening any time this century.

        (Currently, I think Sanders is the only Senator supporting a UBI).

        • UserGoogol

          Yeah, but it’s a weird issue, ideologically. Matthew Yglesias supports a UBI, so it can’t be that left-wing. Hell, even libertarians will sometimes support the idea. So it’s not so much that it’s left wing (although a UBI of any significance would be a rather serious expansion of the welfare state, so it’s definitely not right wing) but that it’s just so extreme and weird an idea that politicians don’t want to touch it.

          But yes, making a UBI seem less extreme is much harder work than asking for a big increase in the minimum wage.

      • UserGoogol

        Oh, I’m definitely a pragmatist. It’s just… it’s a really good idea, why don’t more people talk about it beyond wonks on the Internet?

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