Politicians misspeak. It happens.
If you followed me around all day asking for my opinion on stuff, I’d probably mess up a few times. Like, maybe I’d accidentally say something nice about a CBS sitcom or reveal that I have come to enjoy soccer (and call it futbol). You know, stuff you wouldn’t want anyone to ever hear you admit.
Pete Ricketts didn’t misspeak when he was talking about minimum wage. In a verbal sparring session with Chuck Hassebrook, Ricketts toed the GOP party line in asserting that “raising the minimum wage hurts businesses and the economy.” We’ll take a look at that in a minute. That’s not where Pete the Billionaire royally biffed it. No, that came when he said this:
“Many of the Nebraskans receiving the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour are high schoolers who need the entry-level positions to gain work experience and training.”
With one sentence, one VERY REVEALING sentence, Pete the Billionaire confirmed a few things.
- He is, in fact, completely out of touch with the average Nebraskan.
- He has absolutely no life experience he will be able to use as governor.
How did one sentence reveal so much? Come friends, let us unpack that awful statement before looking at why Nebraska DESPERATELY needs to raise our minimum wage!
First off, the average age of a minimum wage worker isn’t “teenager.” It’s grown-ass adult. The average age is 35. And more than 88% of workers who make minimum wage are over 20 years old. So…if by “many” Pete actually meant “very few,” he was spot on. It’s not Pete’s fault. I mean, that information literally took me several minutes to Google. But I’m not running for governor, so I have the time to actually be informed in what I say.
Okay, some more fun facts about minimum wage workers, just in case someone in Pete’s camp wants to let him know:
- A quarter of them are parents
- Most are women (55%)
- The average minimum wage worker…provides HALF or more of the family’s total income
- Parents who earn the minimum wage typically bring home 60% of the family’s income
- There are 32,000 families in Nebraska that fall in this category
So…basically, when Pete made it sound like “Aw shucks, you don’t wanna hurt them there businesses by makin’ em pay kids extra money that they’ll blow on the marijuana at their high-school parties,” he could literally have not been more wrong.
And that’s interesting, considering that the ONLY quality Pete seems to trumpet about himself is that he’s a “businessman.” I mean, technically, he’s not. He’s a guy who spent some time working for his FATHER’S business. Using his logic, the time I spent working at a video game store makes me a graphic designer. But let’s pretend for a minute that he actually has the business acumen that he claims.
Dude, how did you not know something as basic as the makeup of our work force?
In one quick statement, Pete showed that (A) he will defend at all costs the profit lines of his corporate buddies before giving struggling Nebraskans a living wage and (B) he has very little actual information at his disposal.
Because if he did, even as a conservative, he’d want to raise the minimum wage. Let’s see why!
Reasons to Increase the Minimum Wage or “Somebody Forward This to Pete Ricketts”
1.) It would create a HUGE boom in the still fragile economy – 25 million workers in America (and 32,000 here in Nebraska) make the minimum wage. That’s roughly 20%. Now, if you give a billionaire like Pete a chunk of money, like a million dollars, he’s not going to spend it. He’s going to save it or invest it. Folks who make minimum wage? Oh, that shit is gettin’ spent before it sees the inside of a wallet. What this means is that for all the fear these companies have about having to shell out more money is silly because the employees are just going to give it back by spending it. Don’t believe me? Why do you think McDonald’s, who would arguably stand to be hurt a LOT by this using Pete’s logic, is in support of the hike? Hint: It’s not because they suddenly don’t care about profit.
2.) It won’t hurt jobs or businesses – The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office studied this. As did, like, every economist in the history of ever. The consensus is that there MAY be a SMALL job loss, but that is grossly overweighed by the impact it would have on the other workers. Basically, they conclude that AT WORST, 500,000 jobs may be cut because employers don’t want to pay the new wage. However, 24 MILLION people would benefit. Again, letting people who are WAY smarter than me explain it is always best. So here’s what A HUNDRED ECONOMISTS FROM PLACES LIKE YALE AND HARVARD said:
“Opponents of minimum wage increases frequently argue that such measures will mean fewer employment opportunities for low-wage workers because businesses will be less willing to hire workers at the increased wage level. But the weight of evidence from extensive professional literature has, for decades, consistently found that no significant effects on employment opportunities result when the minimum wage rises in reasonable increments.”
“The economy overall will benefit from the gains in equality tied to the minimum wage increase and related policy initiatives. Greater equality means working people have more spending power, which in turn supports greater overall demand in the economy. Greater equality also means less money is available to flow into the types of hyper-speculative financial practices that led to the 2008-2009 Wall Street crash and subsequent Great Recession.”
Shit, Pete…when you’re wrong, you’re like…REALLY wrong…
3.) Nebraska, in particular, needs to raise the minimum wage – The following map is from Oxfam in a report called “The Working Poor in America,” which is such a depressing title. I want to say this before you look: The blue is bad. The darker the blue, the worse things are. Okay, now take a look at our fair state.
OH DEAR GOD the entire state is crazy dark blue. Not good. NOT GOOD AT ALL! That means more than a third of workers in MOST of our state are low-wage or minimum wage. NO ONE ELSE IN ANY STATE AROUND US IS CLOSE TO THAT! Missouri has to be like “Hey, Iowa. Have you seen what Nebraska pays its workers? What do they think they are, Mississippi?! Bahahaha!”
The recent proposal that got stalled in our state by people who claim to have your best interests at heart only would have raised it to $9. That’s less than the $10.10 proposal that the economists above studied. In other words, Pete and his Nebraska GOP buddies won’t even put a band-aid on the bullet wound.
4.) It’s really popular…so if Pete represents us, shouldn’t he support it? – Nationally, 76% of Americans are in favor of this. So, since this is a democracy, let’s just sit back and wait for the people who are supposed to listen to what we say make the change we’re asking for, right?! In our own state, it’s not quite as popular, mostly because conservatives tend to not want it…because their party tells them it will hurt the economy when it won’t. Still, 55% (a majority) are in favor. If more than half of the state supports something seen as a traditionally Democratic proposal, that number actually feels more like a billion percent.
So, to recap:
- A minimum wage hike will help families (not teenagers)
- A minimum wage hike will HELP the economy, not hurt it (so say 100 economists)
- A minimum wage hike is needed MORE IN NEBRASKA than in surrounding areas
- A minimum wage hike is supported nationally by an overwhelming majority and by a regular majority here
Pete’s not alone in his way of thinking about this. The whole of the GOP hates this idea for one simple reason: It’s taking money from corporations and CEOs and giving it back to the people…temporarily, until they spend it and it goes right back to the corporations and CEOs. Basically, they don’t want you to even temporarily come near their money.
What I look for in someone who represents me is just that: Someone who wants to actually speak on behalf of the people in my community. Chuck’s response to Pete’s gaffe-tastic lie fest?
“Half of the workforce that makes minimum wage in Nebraska are over the age of 25, which means there are thousands of adult Nebraskans that work in jobs where they are not earning a living wage. People who work hard every day ought to be able to support themselves without needing the help of public assistance programs like food stamps or housing assistance.
“Twenty years ago, the average CEO earned 20 times the average worker. Today, the average CEO makes 275 times the average worker. At McDonalds, the CEO makes 1,200 times the average worker. We’re in the midst of the largest gap in earnings in history.
“Many studies show that increasing the minimum wage has little or no effect on employment prospects of low wage workers. An increase in wages actually stands to benefit employers through reduced costs associated with employee turnover.
“In fact, in the first four years following the last minimum wage increase the U.S. economy created more jobs than were ever created in any four year period.
“A majority of Nebraskans support increasing the minimum wage, which just goes to show how out of touch Pete is with average, hardworking families. There is no reason that our tax dollars should go to subsidizing businesses that do not pay their workers a living wage.”
Uh…that guy. I want to vote for that guy. Sorry, Pete. I’m just a big fan of people who use actual facts to support things that benefit real, average Nebraskans. I’m quirky like that.
UPDATE: I feel really guilty this wasn’t in there the first time, as it’s been in my head all day.