April 21, 2015

Three numbers for 2016: 67, 3, $10

Those are three numbers that are key for my presidential vote.

First, I don't want any neolib Democrat, let along a Republican, raising the age of full Social Security eligibility any higher. And, of course, I don't want any privatization talk. Instead, try making all income subject to FICA taxes. And, we can use that to better means-test Medicare. (Which could be a backdoor way to do single-payer national health care as "Medicare for all," but that's another story.)

Second, if not like Europe, we need to at least be like Canada, and guarantee employees above certain age and experience three weeks of paid vacation a year. Given the tumult of the US economy, this shouldn't be chained to specific jobs. The sad part is that this isn't even on the radar screen of many Americans, whether their work collars are blue, white or gray. And it should be.

I'm sure wingnuts would say "We can't afford this." Well, it's more affordable than people burning out on jobs, eventually to take early Social Security, and maybe even, especially if their collars are blue, to find the need to file for SSDI.

Third, we need to raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour. That's in line with what it was at its peak in the 1950s 1960s. It's never been more than $11 an hour, even in Eisenhower Johnson-era prosperity, when far fewer married women, especially with kids, were working. So, and I've blogged about it before, while $15/hour might (even then, I'm not sure) be OK as a local minimum wage in pricey places like Seattle, it's way too high as a national standard. You'll kill red-state and blue-state rural areas alike.

But, $10 is needed. Then, let's make a COLA for the minimum wage part of the bargain, like Social Security, so the minimum wage doesn't start lagging again. We get both liberals and conservatives of various degrees and stripes to do this and take it off the table afterward.

And, I'm not alone in this!

Arindrajit Dube, an economics prof, says the same thing. Move to $10 an hour, then implement a COLA and take this out of the realm of politics. He discusses the issue in detail here.

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