It's the wages, stupid

Gene Nichol nails it again.

Writing on chronic poverty in North Carolina, where it was recently revealed that four of the ten cities in all of American with the worst poverty increases are in (SURPRISE!) North Carolina.

Standard & Poor’s piled on last week, concluding that the gap between rich and poor in the U.S. has become so extreme it’s damaging the entire economy. S&P declared such intense disparity markedly hampers economic growth and has slowed our anemic recovery. And that’s Standard & Poor’s, not The Nation magazine. North Carolina has among the worst economic inequality rates in the country. Over the last three decades, the top 1 percent of Tar Heels saw their incomes grow by 98.4 percent, while the bottom 99 percent inched up only 9 percent.

And what has been the response of our leaders to this unfolding parade of horrors? Nary a word, of course. Either they don’t know we’re sliding over the precipice or they don’t consider it worthy of comment. One wonders if the governor has a fiddle.

After reminding us of Pat and the Tilllisberger's immoral laws:

On the policy front, we continue our path-breaking experiment to redistribute resources from the distressed to the well-heeled. It is hard to believe a government could respond to the landscape described above by denying Medicaid to hundreds of thousands, enacting the largest unemployment compensation cut in history and ending the earned income tax credit – to pay for bold tax cuts for those at the top. Either the bottom third doesn’t count, or our legislators actually believe in an occult economic strategy that defies logic, data, history and common sense. I’m guessing it’s the former.

Gene infuriates the right-wing nut job talking heads who presumably expect him to advocate for what they would call "government handouts". Instead, Gene makes the eminently sensible argument that good jobs are they key to fixing this disaster.

I’ve been surprised, though, in recent conversations with folks across the state living in or near poverty, how consistent the perception of problem is. In Charlotte, Durham, Raleigh, Salisbury, Hickory, Rocky Mount, Lumberton, Winston-Salem and Goldsboro, residents have explained that assistance is important but what they really crave are jobs that pay wages they can live on. You can’t do that at $7.25 an hour. They want the chance to advance when they work hard. If they could make a decent, humane wage, they explain, they wouldn’t have to worry about food stamps or rent subsidies or bus passes or being able to buy the basics for their kids. They’d “do it on their own.”

"Do it on their own". That's one of the primary conservative talking points. And now Gene Nichol has exposed how the tea party loons are intentionally denying people the opportunity to do precisely what the wing nuts claim they want.

We could fix this.

Charlotte and Raleigh are strong enough to move forward on their own [with local minimum wage increases] if (when) the legislature balks.

The politics are tough, I concede. But when you talk to Tar Heels living at the edge, the refrain recurs: “It’s the wages, stupid.”

Comments

The wing nuts

have been silent about jobs for a few months now. After a couple of months of crowing about unemployment rate decreases (that occurred mostly because people dropped out of the workforce), the unemployment rate has creeped back up, NC is clearly lagging the nation, the few jobs that are created are low-wage and the workforce keeps shrinking.

The well oiled NCGOP lie machine can't even find a fake silk purse in the sow's ear of employment in NC. It's really bad and everyone knows it and it's a turd they can't polish.

Meanwhile, the slightest mention of increasing the minimum wage sets them frothing at the mouth, with Thom Tillis injecting his brilliant idea that there shouldn't even be a minimum wage.

Too bad people aren't paid what they're truly worth to society. The NC GOP would owe all of us a fortune.

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"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014

But if there were no minimum wage

the ebbing tide would lower all boats. Isn't that the GOP plan? A permanent, easily exploitable underclass filled with people who can't fight back?

But make no mistake. People will fight back. They always do, eventually.