Minimum Wage Op-Ed Was BS
Sal Circosta’s guest column “Minimum Wage, Maximum Rage” (Dec. 26, 2013), though written from the viewpoint of a small business owner, is unfortunately a regurgitation of the talking points most commonly found on conservative blogs and cable TV. These ideas are simply manufactured rhetoric designed to scare the masses into doing what we have been doing for too long: supporting the elite class of society on the backs of the most vulnerable. The numbers behind the idea of lost jobs, massively increased prices and closed businesses are shady at best and a bold-faced lie at worst. Circosta may call that “bullshit,” but we call it facts.
While Circosta may believe that the minimum wage is intended only for “students and non-professionals,” the truth is that at the beginning of this year, 73 percent of the nearly half a million workers who make minimum wage in the Commonwealth were over 20 years old, and 69 percent of those had at least a high school degree (massbudget.org). Sixty-three thousand of those people were parents, with a combined 124,000 children. These families deserve a living wage for their hard work, and our economy needs their spending power restored.
According to Circosta’s math, the minimum wage increases would amount to an extra $95 a week after taxes for a minimum wage employee working 40 hours a week. Using those numbers, that is almost $5,000 a year. While to Circosta $5,000 may be just “a few extra dollars,” to a family struggling against poverty, $5,000 makes a difference. It’s groceries, school supplies and winter coats for the kids, gas to get to work, medicine, money for insurance, and a step towards moving beyond poverty.
While it may cause Circosta “maximum rage” to pay his employees a living wage, over 259,000 citizens of Massachusetts signed the petition to place a minimum wage increase on the ballot, and polling by the Public Policy Polling group showed 61 percent of those polled in Massachusetts support a raise in the minimum wage, including 32 percent of Republicans. Despite what the right wing and big business would like us to believe, we need a raise in the minimum wage, and working families deserve one. Let us reject the fearmongering that has held us back for too long (the minimum wage hasn’t kept pace with inflation or productivity since 1968), and let us press forward to a fairer, more equal and successful society.
Cold for Animals, Too
During the “polar vortex” that sent temperatures tumbling throughout the country earlier this month, countless animals suffered and died because they were left outdoors. A pit bull who was chained to a tree in Texas froze to death, and in New York, a stray cat appeared to have frozen mid-stride.
With another round of frigid temperatures forecasted, it’s crucial to keep our animal companions indoors, where they will be warm and safe, and to look out for neighbors’ animals and strays. Left outdoors, animals can suffer from frostbite, hypothermia, and dehydration when water sources freeze. At minimum, animals who are forced to live outdoors need increased food rations and proper shelter—a wooden doghouse elevated off the ground, stuffed with straw and covered with a flap. If stray or feral animals visit your property, do everything you can to get them safe indoors (shelters will often loan out humane box traps).
Animals are no better equipped to survive bone-chilling temperatures than we are. If you see an animal deprived of adequate shelter, food, water, or other necessities, please notify authorities immediately. For more tips on protecting animals in cold weather, visi www.PETA.org.