Volume 4, Number 15 - June 17, 2014

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Tomás Monzón
Tomás Monzón
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Seattle’s Minimum Wage Is a Push for Income Equality

By Tomás Monzón

Good morning, Seattle! How does it feel to be the only city in the United States that’ll have a whopping $15 minimum wage in 2017? 

According to a New York Times article written by Kirk Johnson, Seattle Approves $15 Minimum Wage, Setting a New Standard for Big Cities, new ground has been broken in the push to counter income inequality in the United States.

“The unanimous vote of the nine-member Council,” writes Johnson, “after months of discussion by a committee of business and labor leaders convened by Mayor Ed Murray, will give low-wage workers here — in incremental stages, with different tracks for different sizes of business — the highest big-city minimum in the nation.”

I don’t have as in-depth an understanding of macroeconomics as I should – in fact, I’m taking an intro college course at the moment – but I know enough to know that a higher minimum wage stimulates the economy. People with a larger disposable income increase their support of the business cycle by purchasing supplier’s goods with their higher disposable income, thereby accelerating a cycle of prosperity that means higher competition between businesses, higher economic output and an higher overall standard of living.

Seattle’s push for a higher minimum wage – already accomplished to a smaller scale in cities like Washington, where the minimum salary is $9.32 - appears to stand on that philosophy with steady footing.

On a day like today, Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under the Bill Clinton administration and current professor of a popular Wealth and Poverty class at UC Berkeley, must be smiling at what he sees in his copy of the Times. 

In the film, Inequality For All, (directed by Jacob Kornbluth), Reich makes a passionate argument for cutting the income gap between the typical middle class wage earner and the overly compensated CEOs of big companies. 

Clearly, a move like increasing the minimum wage to a double digit figure is done in that spirit.

Just like Reich, I too am glad that such a feat has been accomplished. My slowly expanding knowledge of macroeconomic policy tells me that the more money people have to spend on goods, the better off we’ll all be. If that perspective is naive or one-sided; well, maybe naïveté is healthy sometimes. If it raised the minimum wage, it’s certainly got some value.

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