Profits, minimum wages and the war on transparencyPosted July 23rd, 2012 by Donald Cohen
As wages of American workers continue to sag, campaigns to raise the minimum wage in Congress and in cities and states across the country are gearing up.
Business lobbies will bring out the same old arguments – that raising the minimum wage will kill jobs, will destroy the fast food industry and wreck the economy. They are wrong, as they have been since FDR signed the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938. We show how they cried wolf each time the wage was increased in Minimum Wage Doomsayers are Still Wrong After 74 years.
They can certainly afford it. A new report by the National Employment Law Project, Big Business, Corporate Profits, and the Minimum Wage shows that large retail and restaurant chains that employ most minimum wage workers are posting record profits.
The three largest low-wage employers in the United States – Wal-Mart, Yum! Brands (the operator of fast food chains Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and KFC), and McDonald’s – paint a real-life picture of what inequality looks like.
The War on Transparency
Senate Republicans successfully filibustered the DISCLOSE Act that would have plugged legal loopholes and required secretive organizations running political attack ads to name their their donors. Groups such as Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS are raising millions from wealthy Americans and corporations to elect conservatives and to fight popular clean air laws, consumer protections against predatory lending, and a host of other common sense safeguards for consumers, workers and the environment. Current law allows the donors to remain anonymous.
In 1987, Senator Mitch McConnell argued that we should reject limits on corporate campaign contributions and instead embrace public disclosure of contributions so “voters can judge for themselves what is appropriate.” Now he wants the contributions to be secret so that informed voters don’t reject the power grab of the already too powerful, just as consumers rejected unsafe and unhealthy food, dangerous toys and risky drugs once the ingredients and dangers were disclosed by earlier laws.
Mitch McConnell’s and the Corporate War on Transparency shows how each of these laws were adopted over the objections of industry and are now popular, common sense protections we all rely upon and take for granted.
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