The opinions expressed in the following column do not necessarily reflect the views of WVUA-FM.
By Rich Robinson
I don’t like opinion page scuffles. They too often seem contrived and forced like a bad date or Mitt Romney. But in this instance I must be the one to throw an elbow at one Mr. Cruise Hall, the author of a piece in the June 11th edition of the Crimson White titled, “ Obama should drop current minimum wage.” I’ve never met Mr. Hall and find his column to be well written, but alas, it misses the mark. In the piece, Hall calls for President Obama to drop his attempts to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour from the current $7.25- a large increase that would then tie the rate to inflation in the future. Mr. Hall does not say that he ideologically opposes an increase in the minimum wage, but rather sees a better way to help those who are struggling in a tough economy. Unfortunately Mr. Hall does not focus his efforts on looking at real ways to help those who make less than the federal poverty level, he just pushes the merits of the Keystone XL pipeline and calls to lower energy costs by bashing in the head of the EPA. These are dodges that are largely unrelated to the working poor.
While I support increasing the minimum wage, I also don’t think it’s a silver bullet to fixing the underlying issues facing a working mother on a fixed income. It’s still going to be real tough to make it earning $21 thousand per year versus $15 thousand (if you work 40 hours per week for 52 weeks). We need to create better paying jobs in this country by growing our economy and increasing our educational standards. We need to redouble our efforts in training a new generation of workers in technical trades and by widening opportunities found at community colleges while fighting the rising cost at other institutions of higher learning. These are long term investments that can make the difference in a person’s life and earning potential.
Speaking of long-term investments, we should absolutely try to lower the cost of energy as that impacts the bottom line for millions of Americans. But the Keystone XL pipeline won’t do much to lower the cost of gas in America (it may even increase the price at the pump due to changes in the global supply chain), and only creates 50 long-term jobs. Mr. Hall seems to balance his overall argument for a hands off government approach to poverty alleviation to the strange notion that poor people might save some money on the backend with cheaper gas. Since the average used car payment is $352 a month, it seems illogical to think that all people earning a minimum wage would benefit from a drop in fuel costs since some don’t have cars. The real way to lower the cost of gas is to continue to wean our nation off of fossil fuels in the long term while shifting to cleaner burning alternatives like natural gas now. We should also continue to lower domestic demand for fuel by bettering our systems of public transportation, especially in states like Alabama.
If we truly want to help the working poor or those just starting out, then we should build a real economy that looks out for all Americans. And let’s stop the political gimmicks.
Rich Robinson is the news director for WVUA and a senior.
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