The Daily Astorian, Jan. 16: West Coast in the right place on minimum wages:
When it comes to the minimum wage, Oregon is in the right place. With our West Coast neighbors, we have the highest minimum wages in the nation. A large majority of economists agree that raising minimum wages is smart.
Oregon voters made this decision in 2002 by ballot initiative. The striking thing about Oregon’s statute is that it indexes the state’s minimum wage to the consumer price index. We were ahead of the nation in doing so.
Oregon’s minimum wage is $9.10, Washington’s is $9.32 and California’s will jump to $9 by midyear. Meanwhile, the federal minimum wage is $7.25. President Obama’s proposal to raise the federal minimum wage is strongly resisted by Republicans.
It is striking that not all rich people are in lockstep on holding down the minimum wage. The Christian Science Monitor reports this week the comments of two prominent executives who argue the need to raise wages. Josh Strauss is a portfolio manager for the Appleseed Fund. Bill Gross is known as “the most powerful bond manager of his generation.”
“We’re not just experiencing a new Gilded Age,” said Gross, “but a Bitcoin Age. Artificial money, corporate K Street and Wall Street interests are producing one world for the rich and an entirely different world for the working class.”
It proves nothing for America to race to the bottom — to compete with Third World countries for low wages. We are building an unhealthy social-economic structure. It must change.