The Minimum Wage Debate
There are many governmental issues being discussed today, but I believe the debate on minimum wage hikes is one of the most critical ones. There are many political candidates who have been on the fore front of this debate, but I believe the Governor of New York, Andre M. Cuomo is the only leader willing to set an example of how this issue should be handled. Andrew M. Cuomo is the current and the 56thgovorner of New York. He is a member of the Democratic Party, and he has been in office since January 1st, 2011 after he won elected in office in the 2010’s New York’s gubernatorial race. This is the same position that his father, Mario Cuomo, held between 1983 and 1994. Andrew M. Cuomo has been very bold and outspoken more so when to issue affecting common American citizens more so in his state of New York. During his tenure in office, he has been able to achieve many things such as legalization of same-sex marriages, introduction of the strictest gun control rules in the whole of U.S, legalize use of medical marijuana and currently introduction of minimum wage hike policy among many others.
Minimum wage can be defined as the lowest wage at which any person can sell labor to their employer. There are other parties who prefer defining it as the lowest hourly, daily or even monthly remuneration at which an employer may legally get to pay for his/her employees’ labor (Rycroft 17). Minimum wage rates are usually set by the jurisdictions in question; hence they tend to be different depending on the laws governing a particular district, state, or country. This diversity however, does not hinder differences in opinions that emanate from the existence of minimum wage. There are people who are of the opinion that minimum wage reduces poverty, improves the standard of living, boosts morale of workers, reduces inequality as well as making businesses more efficient (Beland, Daniel & Waddan 82). However, there are parties who are of contrast opinion saying that minimum wage promotes unemployment, increases poverty as well as damaging business, which is an overall negative impact to our economy. Last week I watched a debate on Television that comprised of New York policy makers, employers and employees, seeking to discuss whether the state of New York should increase minimum wage from the current $9 to the much proposed $15 by many workers in the state. This paper will discuss the views that were expressed by different people who were in attendance of this show from the side of those supporting the increment as well as from those opposing it. It will also discuss the view of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in the matter, and what his government is doing about it.
Back in 2015, the state of New York made headlines when Governor Andrew M. Cuomo directed the state legislature to put in place a $15 minimum wage for all fast food workers at large chains (McKinley 01). He also went ahead and mandated it for state workers (estimated 10, 000) in November 2015. This year, he has also continued to push for the payment of higher wages for public-sector jobs. On Jan 4th 2016, he announced a plan that is devised to raise the minimum wage for state university workers to $15 per hour. His plan is estimated to include about 28,000 hundred people according to the estimates from the office of the governor, and it includes students who use work-study programs to pay their bills as well as their tuition while attending classes. Many of these jobs pay minimum wage which rose by $1 at the beginning of this year. The $15 minimum wage is expected to be attained by end of 2018, and when fully enacted it is estimated to cost the state about $28 million (McKinley 01). Administration officials say that this money will be drawn from university system of the state, but there are many people within the state who have concern about the governor’s intentions as this meeting made me discover. Minimum wage laws were introduced nationally in the United States in the year 1938 (Crane & Tim 67). Today, minimum wage rates are different, although not that much different, in the United States of America across different jurisdictions. However, the ongoing debate in this country is due to calls by the public to increase minimum wage at in all states. As a result, policy makers in this country are trying to gauge what would be the effects of increased minimum wage in this country and what that would do to this country.
When I watched this debate on TV, I understood the notion of those supporting increment of minimum wage to $15, and also of those opposing this move. There is a notion that if minimum wage rates were to be increased, low paid workers living standards as well as the economic well being of this country would improve. This is more so direct to poor families that are run by single mothers, most of who have been relying on minimum wage, as well elevating the economic status of this gender in this country (Beland, Daniel & Waddan, 2012). This is why there is a heated debate and calls to increase minimum wage at all levels ranging from local, state and even federal levels. Currently, there is a proposal from congress democrats headed by President Barrack Obama to see minimum wage in this country raised from $7.25 to at least $10.10 per hour or labor in every state in the US. There are other campaigners seeking to get even higher rates at a local level in more than 23 states in the United States. For instance, there is a mayoral panel seeking to have the minimum wage rates increase from $7.25 all the way to $15 an hour for implementation over a number of years, and as this research shows it has already been set in motion in New York.
However, even with all these campaigns for minimum wages increment, economic libertarians and many business groups who have been against these hikes arguing that they may have a negative effect on the American dollar, negatively affecting this nation’s economy drastically (Rycroft 23). Those who are supporting minimum hikes proposals say that on the contrary, they would help stimulating consumer spending as well as easing this country’s worsening income inequality. In fact, in December of 2013, there was a report released by the Progressive Economist Policy Institute saying that the proposal by president Obama would help in creating at least 85,000 jobs in the U.S. following this report, more than 600 progressive economists went forward to writing an signing a letter supporting increase in minimum wages the following month from $7.25 to $10.10.
According to these progressive economists, they felt that hiking these wages would have a stimulating effect on the United States economy. They also feel that these hikes would help in raising the poverty level in this country mostly experienced by single women, who have been relying on these minimum wages, food stamps as well as other welfare programs in this country that have already failed in serving their purpose. These progressive economists feel that minimum wage hikes would also help in trying to stabilize the inequality of income levels in the United States of America. They also cite that most people who are against minimum wage hikes are the top earners in this country who have been controlling the economy and they do not want to lose that which is of benefit only to them (Rycroft 213).
Many factors cause income inequalities such as general inequality, race and gender disparities, education, and taxation and transfers. Inequality is measured both before and after taxation and transfer payments. With respect to market income, or the income before transfers and taxation, work experience, expertise, race, gender, inheritance, and productiveness all influence the distribution of personal or individual income in the U.S., as well as other countries. However, reducing the progressivity of transfers and income tax system leads to more inequality. According to the U.S. Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the equalizing force of transfers plummeted during the period between 1979 and 2007 largely due to reduced progressivity in the distribution of transfers. There was also a decline in the normalizing effect of the federal taxes due to the shrinking of federal taxes in relation to the market income and due to progressivity changes in the federal tax system. The inequality in income in the U.S. corresponds to those of other developed nations before tax and transfers. However, it is rated the worst (last) among twenty-two developed nations after taxation and transfers (Crane & Tim 78). This indicates that the public policies in the U.S., and not market factors, contribute to the disparities in income inequality.
These were all facts that were raised in this debate, and by the time it was over, I was convinced that regardless of what the people against minimum wage people argue, it should be raised to $15. I was also convinced that what America need is good policies that would improve our healthcare systems, education systems and assure equality in status among its citizens. This is achievable through developing strategies that would ensure elimination of poverty is a constitutional right to every American citizen. We also need policies that would elevate the living standards, and promote children independence over a long period of time other than on the welfare basis. Minimum wages hikes are one of the ways of elevating the life of single mothers, indigenous communities in this country as well as an average American. We have also established that living off minimum wages is significantly hard especially for single mother and every American living in abject poverty, for even programs that were meant to help them get through are not any effective any more. We have also established that hikes in minimum wages can elevate our economy through creating more jobs as well as elevating the livelihood of poor indigenous communities in this country, single mothers and every other American. Therefore, I can say that after all this research, I believe that the Governor of New York, Andrew M. Cuomo and the Obama administration are setting an example of what should be done in relation to the issue of minimum wages.
Béland, Daniel, and Alex Waddan. The Politics of Policy Change: Welfare, Medicare, and Social Security Reform in the United States. Washington: Georgetown University Press, 2012. Internet resource.
Crane, D R, and Tim B. Heaton. Handbook of Families and Poverty. Los Angeles: Sage Publications, 2008. Internet resource.
McKinley, J. Cuomo Lifts Minimum Wage for Workers at New York Universities.2016 Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/05/nyregion/cuomo-to-lift-minimum-wage-for-workers-at-new-york-universities.html?_r=0
Rycroft, Robert S. The Economics of Inequality, Poverty, and Discrimination in the 21st Century. Santa Barbara, Calif: Praeger, 2013. Print.