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Friday, November 05, 2004

Another Bright Spot in a Dark World

While I have admittedly been in shock for the past two days over the vast ignorance of our national faith-based electorate, I was somewhat buoyed by the overwhelming supporting for the meager increase in the minimum wage here in Florida.

The amendment to Florida's Constitution passed with 71 percent of the vote, which truly is a landslide. It will immediately raise the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $6.14 an hour (with a similar increase for wait staff wages), and it will index the wage to inflation.

Most amazing about the victory was how it flies in the face of the massive propaganda campaign against it. Recall those constant TV ads showing hurricane damage and promising all sorts of catastrophes from the minimum wage increase?

The business community wanted people to think that raising the minimum wage one dollar would outsource jobs to other countries, force employers to substantially cut their workforces, and take health care away from the elderly, among other things.

The voters saw through it, and rightly so. The only objective study of the amendment showed it having a minor cost to business and a moderate but needed boost to the poor.

The study found that the costs to businesses in Florida would be $406 million, which sounds like a lot until you learn that this amounts to just 0.04 percent of the total sales of those businesses – which means business could cover the payroll increase with an almost invisible (to consumers) increase in the price of their goods or services.

Meanwhile, about 300,000 low-wage workers and their families will see an increase in their disposable income of at least $500 a year – about a 4 percent gain for families currently living below 150 percent of the official poverty thresholds. Meanwhile, that money will be spent, creating a ripple effect on the economy, according to the study.

Maybe voters are not as gullible as I think. Comments?

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