We recently reported on request by the people of Wisconsin to raise the minimum wage, put before
the Koch Brother Scott Walker administration. According to the petition, there exists an obscure Wisconsin law that requires the minimum wage to be a living wage; unsurprisingly, Walker’s administration shot the request down, stating that $7.25 is a living wage. Since Walker’s administration is more empathetic towards its fellow fecal flora than it is human beings, the stories attached to the petition were likely ignored.
The Huffington Post, however, hasn’t ignored them. And these stories paint a painful picture of what the future of Tea Party America will be if we don’t get out there and throw them out of office on Tuesday November 4th.
Linda Branch is a 50-year-old personal care worker in Milwaukee, and is one of 100 workers who filed the joint complaint that Walker’s administration shot down. She works a total of 20 hours a week and makes $11 an hour, or about $400 every two weeks. That’s barely enough, according to her, to pay for rent. She added that she had to recently borrow money to keep her electricity running, and that she couldn’t afford to send her grandson, who is living with her, to his homecoming dance.
Branch was interviewed by the Huffington Post recently, and said that she’d been working since she was 14 and she only receives government assistance for rent. She told the Huffington Post that she was 50-years-old and “should not be penny-pinching.”
The news that Walker had shot down the claim outraged many, like Branch, who called it “a bunch of bull.” She pointedly asked:
“How can you live on $7.25 when I’m making $11 an hour and I can’t?”
Walker described raising minimum wage as part of a “job-killing agenda.” His claim is strange to me, since as a man who knows all about job-killing, he should know that claim isn’t true. Meanwhile, the Department of Workforce Development tucked their tail between their legs and ran, offering no additional statement beyond their initial one.
Walker also claimed that “jobs that involve the minimum wage” are the purview of “young people starting out in the workforce,” a lie that was handily dismissed by PolitiFact. PolitiFact noted that no more than 55% of minimum wage jobs nationally are staffed by teenagers and young adults. A recent think tank reports found that, in 2013 , 25% of the workers in Wisconsin earned around or less than a “poverty wage,” which was classed at $11.36 an hour. The median age of a poverty worker in Wisconsin is 30 years old, according to the report.
Clearly, Walker’s worked miracles. The only man who knows economics better than Walker is Sam Brownback, from Kansas, where the state is so deep in debt they had to sell sex toys recently to make up for budget shortfalls.
The national deputy director for Working Families, Jon Green, made note of what we already knew:
If Governor Walker thinks anyone can really live on $7.25 he is out of his mind. This decision wasn’t guided by any sense or reason or fairness, but by political payback to Walker’s corporate contributors.
The number of people and the ways in which they were hurt by Walker’s decision may be incalculable, but a few have made their stories known and included them in the initial petition. Denise Merchant is fortunate enough to have her husband’s health insurance, since she wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford the test strips she needs as a diabetes patient. Merchant was told by her doctor to test her blood twice a day, but said in the complaint filed to the Walker administration that “It’s been a month since I last tested my blood.” She noted that it wasn’t good for her health, but that it was one thing that she felt she needed to “put off in order that the other bills are paid.”
Roman Flecher works 40 hours a week and lives out of his car. He makes $7.50 an hour as a fast food worker; he tried to donate plasma to make extra money, but his poor nutrition meant that his protein levels were too low for even that. To him, a living wage is enough to afford housing and food, and as he noted, $7.50 is not a living wage.
Julia Garcia makes $8.50 an hour as a retail worker. She’s also a single mother of three, and receives food stamps. Even with that, she’s often unable to buy enough food for her family. She and her family live in a damaged trailer with poor heating. The windows leak when it rains. According to Garcia, “I work long hours starting at 4 am every day but I still can’t meet my needs.”
I can’t be the only person who thinks “Eastern Bloc Country” whenever I hear these types stories, am I? If you look at it, what is the real difference between the Eastern Bloc and Modern America? Your freedom of speech and religion are subject to your corporate masters. Real wages have stagnated. Income inequality has created a powerful oligarchic ruling class. Housing and food is hard to come by, but not because of shortages — it’s because of cost. The result, however, is the same.
This is why we won the Cold War — to become the new Soviet Union.
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