The federal minimum wage is one of the bulwarks protecting the working poor from exploitation and providing some guarantee of a living wage.
There’s a new movement in Congress now to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour to account for years of wage stagnation and inflation.
But conservatives have been trying for years to abolish it, and Trump has vowed if elected to make it a reality. It’s the cornerstone of his plan to create “thousands” of new jobs.
But what kind of jobs?
The nation has seen an outflow of jobs since the 1970s in part because of globalization and more compellingly cheap labor in underdeveloped countries.
In countries like China, where Trump and daughter Ivanka Trump have their clothing lines made, workers live in harsh Orwellian conditions and make only a few dollars a day laboring in sweat shops.
Critics complain that the federal minimum wage makes U.S. workers noncompetitive on a global scale and creates “distortions” in the marketplace.
They argue that corporations should be free to pay what they want for labor in the highly competitive world market.
While the plan may create more jobs, domestically, real wages would fall dramatically for the voters who are now supporting Trump– the white working poor.
Without a federal minimum wage as a guideline, individual states would be left to set their own minimum wage, or abolish it as well.
The situation would create a “race to the bottom” as state’s compete with each other to attract new businesses. The only winners would be large corporations, which already dominate the labor market.
Trump’s white working-class supporters would become a permanent underclass, working long hours at two to three jobs, without health care, barely making ends meet.
But corporate profits would soar, as the gulf between rich and poor widens even more.
Decades ago, trade unions provided a bulwark against exploitative wages and work conditions. Unions have been in decline for years, but Trump’s economic policy could return the nation to an era of violent union organizing and labor wars.
In his business dealings, Trump has already shown his disdain for American workers and honest wages. He’s repeatedly stiffed small businesses who did work for him on his construction projects.
Despite his strident anti-immigration stance, he’s employed illegal immigrants in his own companies.
He’s also flouted immigration laws to employ foreign models in the United States through his 85-percent owned Trump Model Management, according to models who worked for him.
In recent weeks, however, Trump has seen his vulnerability on the issue. He’s changed his position from the primary campaign to avoid alienating his base.
“I don’t know how you live on $7.25 an hour,” he said in a recent interview with NBC News. He said he would support “an increase of some magnitude” but would leave the decision up to individual states.
His comments are cruel doublespeak and one of the dirty tactics identified in an IM report Sept. 6. He says he supports an increase. But by leaving it up to individual states, he knows it won’t happen.
“I like the idea of ‘let the states decide,’” Trump told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “And the states compete with each other, not only other countries, but they compete with each other.”
The seems sound, but it’s fundamentally flawed because of the wide gap between Third World wages and the rest of the developed world.
The better policy is to let Third World wages catch up, not lower standards in the United States, still the world’s largest economy with the world’s largest middle class.
If states have to compete with Third World countries, the nation will become a Third World country like Brazil. It will have a tiny middleclass and a vast underclass at the mercy of Trumps of the world, the super-wealthy.
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