November 16, 2006

Keith Ellison - for the middle class?

On Kare 11 Tv’s website Keith Ellison, the newly elected Democratic Representative from Minnesota, is quoted as saying “Middle class prosperity is a crucial issue to me -- that means tax justice, a livable minimum wage, the right to organize a labor union.” Click here to link to the article.

Let’s evaluate his statement a little further. “Middle class prosperity is a crucial issue to me.” Wonderful, I wonder what his definition of the middle class is? The Drum Major Institute for Public Policy defines the middle class as families with incomes between $25,000 and $100,000 per year. Since the Drum Major Institute typically support Democratic measures I’ll use their definition for the remainder of the article.

The first statement is “tax justice.” Again, I ask what is tax justice in this case? Fair taxes I suppose. Are the middle class workers paying too much or not enough taxes? He doesn’t specify. Typically, the Democratic party raises taxes which affect most people. Is Ellison for the middle class? I am not sure yet.

The next statement is “a livable minimum wage.” Currently, the federal minimum wage is set at $5.15 per hour, although many states have increased their own minimum wage standards. How many people in the middle class make minimum wage? Let’s see, $5.15 per hour x 40 hours per week x 52 weeks per year equals $10,712. That’s not middle class, even with two adults working in the household it is still not middle class ($10,712 x 2 = $21,424). By increasing the minimum wage you simply shift the middle class distribution, not improve it. Is Ellison for the middle class? Not with this statement.

Finally, the last statement, “the right to organize a labor union.” Middle class workers are usually white collar or lower management type positions. Why would they need a labor union? Unemployment is currently around 4.6%, we are close to full employment in the United States. If you don’t like your job, find a new one! I realize some areas of the country are worse than others, but labor unions will not solve those problems! In fact, labor unions would increase unemployment, hurting the middle class workers Ellison claims he wants to prosper! The current unemployment rate in Minnesota is around 3.8%, even better than the national rate.

In conclusion, is Keith Ellison for the middle class? I don’t think so, but I guess we’ll see thanks to the voters of Minnesota. Just my thoughts! Let me know yours!

No comments: