Today’s edition of Forward Into the Past! (hat tip to Firesign Theater) is brought to you by the Missouri’s very own genius in hiding, Todd Akin. Mr. Akin took the opportunity last week to state his opposition to not only minimum wage laws, but also to the socialistic idea of paying women the same as men for the same work. Here is the following exchange that was recorded at a town hall meeting on September 27, 2012:
AUDIENCE MEMBER: You voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Why do you think it is okay for a woman to be paid less for doing the same work as a man?
AKIN: Well, first of all, the premise of your question is that I'm making that particular distinction. I believe in free enterprise. I don't think the government should be telling people what you pay and what you don't pay. I think it's about freedom. If somebody wants to hire somebody and they agree on a salary, that's fine, however it wants to work. So, the government sticking its nose into all kinds of things has gotten us into huge trouble.
Normally, one could classify this in the same category as a humorous exchange one might have with an elderly relative at Thanksgiving. When your grandpa is going on and on about how no one ever gave him nuthin and he only had cornstalks to eat (to poor for the actual kernals like them dol gone city folk) and he was glad to git it! Really, gramps?? Cause as long as I have known you I personally have never seen you glad about anything! However, what is not funny about this exchange is that this point of view is not only born of ignorance, it is far too prevailing in our society today. During the teacher’s strike in Chicago I heard far too many on the left complaining about the high salaries of the teachers.
What do the people who want to repeal the minimum wage think will happen if it were to be repealed? Do they envision a worker’s paradise in which hard workers are justly rewarded for their efforts and slothful workers are punished for their poor work habits? One does not need to imagine what would happen without a minimum wage, one only needs to read a little history. In 1933, as part of the New Deal, the first national minimum wage was established. It was challenged in court and ruled unconstitutional in 1935. In 1938 the minimum wage was successfully reinstated as part of the Fair Labor Standards Act (which also prohibited most child labor – exemptions being granted to agriculture – which too many on the right also want to see abolished). What is obvious to everyone who has ever worked a minimum wage job, is that without the law, wages would crash for everyone. Without the ‘floor’ of the minimum wage, all workers would see their incomes plummet. Can anyone honestly argue that the abolishment of a minimum wage would increase worker income?
When I hear someone say something so foolish it makes me sad. The lack of compassion shown in his statement is telling. The minimum wage should be indexed to the rate of inflation. The argument that this country should be having is not how to pay workers less, but how to pay workers an actual living wage. Embracing the return to sweat shops and child labor should be an idea that results in one being booed off of a stage, instead, it is an idea that passes for political discourse in today’s America.