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Missouri: 'Livable' wage goal worthy of achieving
Daniel Ballard

June 11, 2011
View the Original Article

Why are we so obsessed with the minimum wage? We must have a minimum wage, but by any rational standard it should also be a "livable" wage. One that will keep a full-time worker above the poverty line. We let our state and federal representatives embroil us in emotional debates about raising or lowering the minimum wage a few cents, but we never talk about a "livable" wage.

Instead of quibbling about minimum wage, we should be promoting all forms of education and technical training. Administration, teaching, communication and health services, as well as skilled trades. There will always be demand for skilled craft technicians. Currently, most of the training for higher skilled technical workers is either directly provided by, or financed through, trade union apprenticeship programs.

A companion issue is child care. It must be more accessible, higher quality and more affordable. Perhaps even subsidized. This would lighten a heavy burden on working parents and provide more incentive to work.

As we are improving our skilled work force, let's give the unemployed population a leg up by creating jobs in the form of public works. How to fund them you say? Simply reverse the tax reduction currently granted to the top 10 percent of our population back to the Clinton era tax rates. Then, use the revenue recovered to fund public works for the first two years, and afterward to reduce the deficit.

If history has taught us anything, it is that "middle class" families will spend virtually everything they make. They tend to live from paycheck to paycheck. As desperate and futile as it sounds, the fact is that this cycle has, and will, kick-start and maintain the economy quicker than any other "stimulus" ever attempted.

Socialistic? Maybe, but the fact is, this ridiculously simple plan would lower unemployment, raise our collective standard of living, stimulate the economy and start the repair and rebuilding of our national infrastructure.

Now is the time for action. I truly hope our representatives can see to do the right thing for us "constituents," and move to get the country back to work. Because failure, without question, will result in their replacement in the next election.

Daniel Ballard lives in Springfield.