The Cheap Labor Conservative Who Cried Wolf

I’ve noticed the idea of increasing the minimum wage has been popping up recently. Awesome idea that’s long overdue, so you know what that means. Endless whining from conservatives about small businesses being forced to close their doors and layoffs for the people who we’re trying to help. To listen to them, you’d think a modest increase in take home pay for the working poor is the tipping point that lead us all into the gutter. Put aside the fact that these supposed advocates for the poor and small business owners only seem to show their love when it’s an issue that would cost their campaign contributors money, here’s the real reason why these arguments are garbage.

The Fair Labor Standards Act was passed in 1938 and set a minimum wage of $0.25 per hour. Here’s what FDR said in one of his fireside chats shortly after signing the bill :

After many requests on my part the Congress passed a Fair Labor Standards Act, commonly called the Wages and Hours Bill. That Act—applying to products in interstate commerce-ends child labor, sets a floor below wages and a ceiling over hours of labor.

Except perhaps for the Social Security Act, it is the most far-reaching, far-sighted program for the benefit of workers ever adopted here or in any other country. Without question it starts us toward a better standard of living and increases purchasing power to buy the products of farm and factory.

Do not let any calamity-howling executive with an income of $1,000 a day, who has been turning his employees over to the Government relief rolls in order to preserve his company’s undistributed reserves, tell you—using his stockholders’ money to pay the postage for his personal opinions-/that a wage of $11 a week is going to have a disastrous effect on all American industry.

Since then the federal minimum wage has been raised twenty five times. Yet if Republican doomsday scenarios are to be believed, does that mean we’ve had 25 economic crises? What about all of the state-specific minimum wage laws? Have more progressive states like California been bleeding jobs due to their fairer wages? We’ve had a minimum wage in this country for almost seventy years, so why are we still dealing with the save executive crybaby act?