State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.
During 1919, Wisconsin became one of the first states to enact a minimum wage. It was 22 cents per hour. Today, the minimum wage is $6.50. This week, Senate Democrats voted to increase the minimum wage to $7.60 by June of this year, and to index it to inflation every year thereafter. It is only fair; they say poor families are losing ground to inflation.
Well, let us take a look. During 1919, our minimum wage was 22 cents per hour. Adjusted for inflation, according to the bureau of labor statistics, that today would be $2.70. Today’s actual minimum wage is over twice that amount.
During 1956, the minimum wage was increased to 70 cents per hour. Indexed to inflation, that would be $5.47 today. During 1989, the wage became $3.65; today, that would be $6.25. Again, growth in the minimum wage outstripped inflation.
Moreover, it is still outstripping inflation. June 1, 2005, Wisconsin’s minimum wage went from $5.15 to $5.70, nearly an 11% increase. June 1, 2006, one year later, it was increased another 14%, to $6.50.
This latest increase, if it becomes law, will be another 16.9% increase. That will be a 47.6% increase just since 2005. Inflation has not been anywhere close to that increase.
Clearly, this is not about lifting people out of poverty, or keeping up with inflation as proponents say. It is about power, government power, and the power to take money from one person, and give it to another person. To stick government fingers deeper and deeper into other people’s pies, and set the stage for even more government power by pitting groups of citizens against each other.
Proponents of increasing the minimum wage hope to convince us that the government must act, and act big, to save us all.
It is likely we will see that strategy replayed repeatedly during this session of the Wisconsin Legislature. To save us all from the rising cost of health care, Democrats are already pursuing policies that will force increases in the cost of health insurance. As those costs rise, more people will be unable to afford health care, and government health care will be the only answer!
To save us from a bad economy, Democrats will spend billions upon billions of our dollars and create a lot of debt burdening us, our children and grandchildren, and convince us that government action alone saved us from the recession! Never mind that their own government policies of high taxes, constant regulation, and a new bureaucracy for every problem create a bad economic environment and prevent businesses from using their dollars to build business and add jobs in our state and in our country.
The irony is, if lawmakers during 1919 had been able to see the path they were starting with their 22-cent minimum wage, they likely would not have done it.