PLEDGE NOW
Poverty Wages In America

Solving America’s low wage conundrum. Looking for a way up and out of the poverty wage trap. Plus

Colorado Walmart employees and supporters join nationwide protests, in front of a Walmart store in Lakewood, Colo., Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, for Walmart to publicly commit to improving labor standards. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is the nation's biggest shopping day of the year. (AP)

Colorado Walmart employees and supporters join nationwide protests, in front of a Walmart store in Lakewood, Colo., Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, for Walmart to publicly commit to improving labor standards. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is the nation’s biggest shopping day of the year. (AP)

Low-wage America is a big country, and it’s not an easy place to live.  The nation’s grown a lot richer over the decades, but retail wages have fallen by almost a third. America’s minimum wage, as a percent of average pay, is now the lowest of any OECD country but Mexico.  We all know the stories of McDonalds and WalMart workers on food stamps.  It can make you feel guilty just buying a burger.  But what to do about it?  There’s a new push on to raise the minimum wage, even if just locally.  And then what? This hour On Point:  America’s low wage crisis, and what to do about it.

— Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Reid Wilson, senior political policy blogger for The Washington Post. (@PostReid)

Jason Fichtner, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. (@JJFichtner)

David Cooper, economic analyst at the Economic Policy Institute. (@metaCoop)

Tiffany Beroid, 29-year-old married mother of two who works at a Wal-Mart in Laurel, MD.

From Tom’s Reading List

Washington Post: Push for minimum wage hike led by localities, Democrats — ‘Efforts in Congress to raise the national minimum wage above $7.25 an hour have stalled. But numerous local governments — including those of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, and the District — are forging ahead, in some cases voting to dramatically increase the pay of low-wage workers. The efforts, while supported by many unions, threaten to create a patchwork of wage rates that could mean workers in some areas will be entitled to vastly less than those working similar jobs nearby. The campaigns reach from coast to coast.’

Bloomberg Businessweek: What a Higher Minimum Wage Does for Workers and the Economy — “Raising the minimum wage is neither as wonderful as its advocates claim nor as dangerous as its detractors warn. On the upside, it would increase pay for millions of Americans, not only those earning the minimum but also those at fixed increments above it. These are people who could really use a raise. Contrary to what generations of students were taught in freshman econ, new research finds that minimum-wage increases at the state level have caused little, if any, harm to employment. ‘Outside of the simple Econ 101-type environment, increasing workers’ pay can improve the functioning of the low-wage labor market,’ Arindrajit Dube, a University of Massachusetts economist, testified before Congress in March.”

America: Francis’ Multi-faceted Reflection — “As has been amply reported and commented upon, Francis sees the need for a more diverse and less centralized and clericalized Church. He dreams of a poor Church living a fundamental option for the poor. He also critiques an economic system in which profit prevails over persons, violating their dignity and legitimate aspirations. Pope Francis has derived important elements of this pastoral vision from the writings of his predecessors mentioned above, upon which he gratefully and extensively draws. However, the powerful and personal synthesis and program is unmistakably his own.”

Pope Francis’ Anti-Capitalist Creedo

Eric LymanRome-based freelance writer who covers the Vatican for USA Today and the Religion News Service. (@EricJLyman)

The Washington Post: Pope Francis lays out a blueprint for his papacy in ‘Evangelii Gaudium’ — “Francis blasted the ‘idolatry of money’ in the world financial system, which he called ‘an economy of exclusion and inequality.’ He also called on the church itself to work from the trenches: ‘I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting, and dirty because it has been out on the streets rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confirmed and from clinging to its own security.'”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
May 25, 2016
This April 29, 2014, file photo, shows an Exxon sign at a Exxon gas station in Carnegie, Pa. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

How will the oil giants do business in the climate change future? Shareholders at Exxon, Chevron and more want to hear their plans. So do we.

May 25, 2016
Police gather in a cordoned off area where a possible murder suspect fired shots at officers surrounding a South Side home where he is barricaded Thursday, May 12, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

Predictive policing. With violence on the rise, Chicago has turned to big data to predict gun and gang violence.

RECENT
SHOWS
May 24, 2016
Activist and author Gloria Steinem. (Carly Romeo / Courtesy Gloria Steinem)

Feminist icon Gloria Steinem explores how violence against women drives global instability in her new show, “Woman.” She’s with us.

 
May 24, 2016
U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Vietnamese Communist party secretary general Nguyen Phu Trong at the Central Office of the Communist Party of Vietnam in Hanoi, Vietnam, Monday, May 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Obama’s in Vietnam and Japan. The G7, Hiroshima and his pivot to Asia are all on the table. We look at the big picture. Plus, President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Gloria Steinem Explains Her ‘Bernie Boys’ Comment
Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Feminist activist Gloria Steinem explains why her apparent diss of female supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders was anything but.

More »
Comment
 
‘Best Of’ 2016 Commencement Speeches
Monday, May 16, 2016

Excerpts from a few of the best commencement speeches delivered to the graduating class of 2016.

More »
Comment
 
Caller: Trump is a ‘Yankee moron,’ but I support him
Tuesday, May 10, 2016

“I’m a working man. I’ve worked 13, 14 hours every day. I got two jobs. I got three kids. I got a wife. You know, I’m not a misogynist.”

More »
Comment