On Monday, members of the Senate voted down "dueling proposals" to raise the $5.15-an-hour minimum wage. The paltry rate has not seen an increase since 1996. Currently, a person making minimum wage for the once typical forty-hour workweek earns $10,712 a year, before taxes.Most newspaper stories have addressed the differences between the two partisan proposals, but let's look at the disgusting facts left unmentioned in most accounts:Outrageously, those very same Senators earn $78 per hour (Senate leaders earn $87 per hour) or $162,100 per year (leaders making $180,100 annually). They have also voted to increase their own pay since 1996 by 21 percent, using the taxes of minimum wage earners to help foot the bill.Then there's the benefits: Typically, those making minimum wage cannot afford health insurance and their slave-wage jobs most certainly don't provide such care. But U.S. Senators are covered by federal employee insurance programs where the government (ie. Taxpayers) pays 72 percent of the average premium, there are no pre-existing condition limitations and they can pay for their portion through pretax salary dollars.I urge every person reading this to call their Senators and remind those bastards just who they are working for. Demand a living wage and universal healthcare!And make it a collect call!Actually posted by ITT intern, Christopher Burrow
Brian Cook was an editor at In These Times from 2003 to 2009. He now works on the editorial staff of Playboy magazine.