Wednesday, August 26, 2009

80% of LBJ's median wage = 66% of Obama's median wage = the same [1968!!!] $10/hr minimum wage!

80% of $12.50 = 66% of $15.00 = the same [!!! 1968 !!!] $10 federal minimum wage

If LBJ was able to boost his minimum wage to 80% of his era's relatively generous (as in fair?) $12.50/hr median wage: to $10/hr (old figures adjusted) -- why can't Obama refuel his time's minimum wage to at least 66% of his era's relatively tight-wad $15.00/hr median wage (advanced only 20% as average income grew 100%): to the same $10/hr?

Why not do it in one jump as Eisenhower's (1956), LBJ's (1968) and Nixon's (1974) did? Seems plenty of headroom beneath plenty more headroom.

John F. Kennedy reportedly said (I believe I read it in "The Making of a President 1968"): "Who cares if the minimum wage is $1.00 or $1.25?" Yet Kennedy pushed $1.25/hr minimum for 1963 through Congress, expanding its real buying power almost 15% over Eisenhower's $8/hr minimum (in parallel with per person economic growth): to $8.75/hr.

Does today's more unequal sharing of labor earnings fairly reflect a lesser need for unskilled labor in a higher tech economy (should barbers get relatively -- or absolutely -- less)?

Let's guess that 90 percentile income level roughly equates to the 90 percentile IQ level (willingness to work and opportunity do count as much). The earnings of 90 percentile earners, all the way up to about the 97 percentile earners (and IQs?) have not grown more or less than overall economic growth over the past 4 decades. Who else might possess such extraordinary new productive powers?

Even the low end of top one percentile incomes (and IQs?) have not grown that much out of proportion (ask your doctor). If you ask Paul Krugman it is the ballooning incomes of the top 1/10th of one percentile and especially the top 1/100 of one percentile earners which have absorbed most of the 15% of income share lost by the bottom 90 percentile since 1973: ball players, news anchors, CEOs -- many earning 25 times what the same job skills paid 36 years ago (when "stagwagion" began its apparently too-slow-to-be-noticed creep).

If it would be economically comfortable in our labor market to return the minimum wage to a relatively weaker (in this century) $10/hr, then, it should be as equally doable for re-organized American labor (under sector-wide contracts -- only modern way -- versions in every modern OECD nation except US and Japan) to push the median wage all the way back to the overall share of 40 years ago: to as much as $25/hr.

The minimum wage could then bring up the rear at at least 50% of the resurrected median wage: $12.50/hr: end of the Crips and the Bloods -- who will thank us -- who wants to get shot and/or jailed to make $10/hr selling crack: the end of the most poverty in a modern economy that is twice as productive per person as it was in LBJ's time (he is looking down impatiently).