The Norman Transcript

Opinion

April 28, 2014

Ban on wage increases is mark of hypocrisy

NORMAN — What rationale would Gov. Mary Fallin, who has championed smaller government and local control, use to explain her hypocrisy in banning individual Oklahoma cities from raising minimum wages in their jurisdictions?

Fallin can’t bear all the blame for this dictatorial behavior. Rep. Randy Grau, who sponsored the bill in the House, claims that “an artificial raise in the minimum wage could derail local economies in a matter of months.”

Dan Newberry, the Senate co-author, offered the usual reasoning behind wage increase opposition: It will allow Oklahoma to remain economically competitive and see continued job growth.

How compliant would Newberry would be if President Obama managed to ram through his federal minimum wage hike? We suspect Newberry’s support would sink like a rock with a brick tied to it.

Minimum wage is one of the most divisive topics on the current agenda. Many Americans are staunch in their support of, or opposition to, raising that rate, and an endless stream of studies, polls, statistics and testimony before panels is not going to change their minds.

On the one hand, only the most out-of-touch elitist in a gated community would think a person can support himself, much less a family, on $7.25 an hour. Fallin’s assertion that most minimum-wage workers are “young, single people working part-time (or) high school or college students living with their parents” doesn’t take into account the hundreds of thousands of well-paying jobs that were lost during the Great Recession.

Lots of those folks have been forced to take entry-level jobs until something better comes along, and many of those people have turned to government assistance.

On the other hand, Fallin is right when she says raising the wage will not lift people out of poverty. When corporations or small businesses expect a level of profit, and a wage increase is suddenly forced upon them, they’re bound to make up the difference.

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