Monday, March 07, 2005

Rick Santorum's Sweatshops

I've been kicking a Santorum and his sweatshop initiative around as a potential post for a while, but I didn't quite have an angle until this post on Amy Welborn's site.

She quotes the Labor blog, which points out that Santorum's proposal to raise the minimum wage by over dollar is phony because he includes a poison pill exemption for companies with revenues below a million dollars. So while a million or so people will see their wages go up, over six million will lose their current minimum wage protection.

Of course of interest to me is the compassionate, we-love-the-poor Catholic Right pro-life response and it is typical, i.e, Republican. For instance there's this:

The Labor blog is quite confused. The Santorum bill will indeed help over a million workers by raising the wage. However, to apply it to small businesses could be a death knell to those enterprises. Think about raising the wage for each worker $1.10 an hour. Adding that up over the course of a year and multiply by two or three employees, and that is a considerable sum of money for such a small business. Even Catholic Social Doctrine does not require increasing wages to the point where it would jeopardize the whole enterprise.

And the comments are coming in fast and furious.

I run a small business with four part time employees. I have never paid minimum wage which is $5.15 (?). From the beginning, it never struck me as the honorable thing to do. It was not the smartest financial business decision but it was right. Besides, there is no free lunch, and you pay the price for paying low wages. The closest I came to the minimum wage was when, for period of 6-8 months, I hired a couple of people at $5.50 to help bottomline issues and of course, I paid the price for that. One left three months later to find a higher paying job and the other left 7 months later for a higher paying job. After that, it was back to 6/6.25 an hour. It's not that I can afford it, but I've since learned that I cannot get the quality and stability I want at minimum wage.

I also know that what's going to help my business is not wages, but disposable income. Ultra high debt levels plus ultra high gas prices, plus a shaky job market, plus sky rocketing healthcare and prescription drug costs and other factors are the economy killers, not the hiring of people at levels above the current minimum wage. Raising the minimum wage increases the disposable income in the economy among those most likely to spend it. And that does the economy good.

Somehow, for the Catholic Right, it is okay for Bush to give trillions back to millionaires and pennies back to hardworking middle class and poor folk. How about a real tax cut to middle class and poor people who are being crushed under regressive tax burdens? No! no! no! No tax breaks, unless they go to the wealthy, who don't need them, except perhaps to buy another $3 million brooch (and not from my store).

BTW, Santorum is the poster boy for compassionate conservatism. At least with him at the forefront of this compassionate conservatism, the movement is no longer hiding the fact that it wants to gut the coffers of the middle class and break the backs of the despicable poor. Between gutting Social Security, destroying the minimum wage safety net, siding with corporations against bankrupt individuals, ensuring sky rocketing medical costs, I think we are getting our due of the Republican culture of life agenda. Oh, by the way, at least we'll keep those evil gays pervs from marrying.


Blogger Steve Bogner said...

Well, I'm a Republican small-business owner and see tremendous value - for business and society - in paying a living wage. I wrote about it a while ago on Solicitudo Rei Socialis in case you're interested in more ( but paying people a living wage is just good for everyone.

8:25 PM  
Blogger Ono said...

A friend of mine a couple years ago had told me that Santorum was working on a poverty bill when i claimed that Republicans weren't interesting in taking of the poor. As soon as she mentioned it, I was deeply suspicious and sure enough, as details emerged, it was same ol, same ol.

The Republican leadership is joined at the hip with big business. I heard many Republican workers, Republican small biz owners and Republican union folk, support living wages, but the Party itself, would have no part of it. There are many Republicans like yourself who would support a wage hike, just to even get on parr with inflation.

At some point, you'd hope the Party would do the math and see how working two $5.15 jobs barely make ends meet and btw, so much for pro-family life there. Anyway . . .

11:44 PM  

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