Corporate Greed Fuels Resistance to Minimum Wage Hike

by David T. Bruce

Many analysts and columnists are insisting that the economy is getting better. The state of the economy is a relative condition, however, as over 12 million Americans remain unemployed, with long-term unemployed men and women accounting for 38 percent of that number. At any rate, this perceived economic recovery has prompted President Obama to offer up an increase in the federal minimum wage over the next two years.

minwageThe arguments against raising the minimum wage are predictable, as they are consistent. Business owners contend that an increase in the minimum wage would force them to pass that cost on to the consumer. As well, the costs associated with paying employees more would limit the number of employees that they could hire, thereby further impacting the unemployment rate. This may be the case, certainly for small business owners who are trying to earn a living, but for those larger corporations that are doing well, these arguments amount to pure greed.

The current minimum wage of $7.25 amounts to $15,080 a year; this places a family of two below the poverty level. This is recovery? To pay rent in 1960, a person would have to work 71 hours at minimum wage ($1); a person would have to work 109 hours at the current minimum wage, to afford rent. This is recovery?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (unaffectionatly referred to as Obamacare by dissenters) compels business owners employing over 50 people to provide those employees with healthcare benefits. Companies such as Wendy’s (in Omaha, Nebraska), Papa John’s and Walmart are systematically structuring their workforce to avoid providing benefits. This is greed. And the bottom line of the argument against increasing the federal minimum wage is greed.

Business owners regularly raise prices to keep pace with inflation. Local utilities and governments do likewise. When will big businesses and governments realize that at some point, prices will be raised so much that they will lose money? The federal government does understand this, as government employees have historically received a cost-of-living allowance to help offset inflation.

The unemployed and underemployed Americans cannot give what they do not have. At some point, everyone will suffer. There is plenty of evidence to support that an increase in minimum wage would be a good thing, and the numbers demonstrate that big businesses continues to prosper while the middle class deteriorates. Every time you read or hear that the economy is improving, you can bet that Wall Street is doing very well, while the rest of us are worse off than we were yesterday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Credit Debt is the Enemy of Financial Health

by Shadra Bruce

Living in debt has become the norm. Credit has involved into one of the most profitable industries in the country. Credit card companies in particular prey on those who are least likely to be able to repay their debts as well as those who feel they must have what they cannot afford.

There is no doubt that accumulating credit debt is the enemy of financial health. Creditors make it possible to live above our means, spend what we don’t have, and create an illusion of wealth.

The path to true financial health begins with seeing through the illusion of credit.

  • We have to start changing the way we look at how we accumulate stuff. We must begin changing the reality of wealth in America.
  • We can’t lease BMWs when all we can afford is Hyundais
  • We can’t buy 50-inch big screen TVs with credit cards when all we can afford is 22-inch
  • We can’t charge $8,000 vacations and hope we get them paid off before we plan the next one
  • We have to change the way we live.

erCredit debt is the enemy of financial health.

The items you have hold no value because of the money you now owe (and the interest you now pay) to have them. You might have only charged $4,000 on your credit card, but if you make minimum payments on a card with 18% interest, you will end up paying $25,010 in interest – and it will take you 40 years to do so.

It is impossible to be financially healthy when you rely on credit. The steadily increasing rate of debt is part of why we were unable to survive the housing collapse and the recession.

To truly gain financial health, credit debt can’t be a part of your life. Any purchase is less inexpensive when it is done without loans or credit, avoiding the interest rates and fees. By living within your means rather than above them, you will be in a position to create financial health.

  • Live simply
  • Live within your means
  • Barter and trade
  • Ignore marketing ploys designed to part you from your money and make you want things you don’t need
  • Work only enough to survive; thrive by volunteering, being part of your community, and encouraging sustainability
  • Get rid of the extra cars, cable subscriptions, unlimited cell phone plans, and unnecessary debt
  • Pay off your credit cards and stop using them unless you pay off immediately what you charge
  • Leave big banks and move to credit unions
  • Donate extra money to Rolling Jubilee to help others
  • Teach your children to be smart consumers and self-sufficient citizens
  • Grow as much of your own food as you possibly can

Changing the Reality of Wealth in America

by Shadra Bruce

There was a time when we thought the growth would never stop. The housing market was thriving, jobs were everywhere, and money was plentiful. Unfortunately, we forgot that the economy is cyclical, and many of us did not realize (or did not pay attention to) how precariously we were balanced on the brink of ruin.

We pushed the limits of the American Dream, convinced that we needed to own more and more, bigger and bigger.

The United States  is considered one of the richest countries in the world, but underneath that thin sheen of wealth lies a thick layer of poverty. Even those considered part of the ever-dwindling middle class often have no source of savings. The American Dream evolved from the big house and the white picket fence to a big screen television and a BMW.

We have officially reached our spending limit, and the only direction that remains is down.

It is time to wake up and see reality.

Everything happens in cycles, and we are in the midst of the biggest financial crisis that this country has experienced since the Great Depression.

As a society and as individuals, we forgot how to be frugal. We love to have, and none of what we desire was or is sustainable. Middle-class America bought more house than they could afford, and now many are stuck with homes that will never regain their value. There are difficult choices to be made.

Our resources, both natural and artificial, are exhausting themselves.

 It’s not too late.

We haven’t completely failed yet, and we still have the means to recover. The biggest change that everyone must undergo is to realize that it is not about how much you earn. You have to change your mindset, because it’s really about how much you spend.

It used to be simple to have a home, buy a car, and to buy everything that piqued your interest. Everyone had lines of credit, because we never dreamed that we wouldn’t be able to fulfill our debts. But with nothing to fall back on, things have to change.

The reality of America’s wealth is that it is incredibly superficial.

You must start by clearing away the illusions and realize that the way forward begins with being smarter with the money you have now and realizing you don’t need to have it all.

  • Live simply
  • Live within your means
  • Barter and trade
  • Ignore marketing ploys designed to part you from your money and make you want things you don’t need
  • Work only enough to survive; thrive by volunteering, being part of your community, and encouraging sustainability
  • Get rid of the extra cars, cable subscriptions, unlimited cell phone plans, and unnecessary debt
  • Pay off your credit cards and stop using them unless you pay off immediately what you charge
  • Leave big banks and move to credit unions
  • Donate extra money to Rolling Jubilee to help others
  • Teach your children to be smart consumers and self-sufficient citizens
  • Grow as much of your own food as you possibly can