We need a livable wage

Arguments against raising New Hampshire’s $7.25 minimum wage are so tiresome. They’re nothing but myths written by spin doctors to justify the redistribution of wealth from the base of the economic pyramid – the hourly workers without whom businesses would collapse – to the increasingly privileged, isolated and tiny tip-top.

Many Granite Staters find one of the big myths particularly attractive: mandating a more livable wage is taking away our freedom. We should rather die. If this myth were true, why isn’t every other state in New England a communistic dystopia? Why aren’t desperate migrants pouring in so they can be “free?” And why aren’t my husband and I racing to rescue our grandchildren from the bleak wasteland of Massachusetts, where the minimum wage is $12, on its way to $15? It’s simple: economies don’t collapse and no one’s constitutional freedoms are stripped away because they’re paying an extra nickel for a cheeseburger (true story!) so the cooks and servers can feed their families. 

In reality, the current minimum wage is an insult to the very work we claim to value. It means hourly employees are “free” to work two jobs and/or multiple shifts to pay for basic needs; rely on public assistance (tax dollars) for food and housing support; or, as is the case for many Southern Tier residents, work in Massachusetts, where they can make a more reasonable salary.  We are no freer than our neighbors: we are in fact paying public dollars to help owners and shareholders underpay the many to fatten profits and bonuses for the few.

There were several bills considered in Concord. None proposed a truly livable wage, but they were a start, and we could support them as a first step. Then, because we are both free and fair-minded, we should regularly remind our representatives we want nothing less than a livable wage for all working people in New Hampshire.