Archive for September 17th, 2010

The Minimum Wage

Please let me know if what I am saying here bores you. It is not on our subject, but it is general history that will die with me.

Obama has raised the minimum wage. In the debate over this, no one mentions where it came from.

After the Civil War the Northerners who then owned all the railroads made agreements that kept industry up North, especially in New England. These agreements were a major part of legislative history no one hears about, and they kept the center of American industry slightly NORTH of the center of industrial production in CANADA!

As these railroad rates were slowly being equalized after the Republican defeat in 1932, industry began to move south. Nobody but me remembers that that was where the minimum wage got its majority vote.

Unions have no minimum wage workers, so people wonder why they are the biggest force in favor of it. Now it is to keep two minimum wage workers from replacing one union man. But in 1935 it had to do with the evening of railroad rates.

Unions were afraid that a huge part of their jobs would move to the low-wage South. So with the South having all the chairmanships ruling congress — all the seniority from when most of the few Democrats in congress were Southern — the unions demanded that the competition be limited by a minimum wage for Southern labor.

Mommy Professor teaches that it was Idealists and Intellectuals like him who gave thought to the working poor that caused the minimum wage.

Unlike Mommy Professor, I have KNOWN a lot of working people.

The most fanatical opponent of a minimum wage rise I ever met was a black man who worked on our brick plant. He didn’t drink and he fired the kilns and supported a big family.

Normally the “fireman” had to stoke the kilns every half hour or every hour. So he just slept in between. He preferred being in the plant to his crowded home and his family could come see him at the plant nearby.

There wasn’t a lot of entertainment in Pontiac, South Carolina.

So he was happy to put in a hundred hours a week when the minimum wage was a dollar an hour. He got $1.50 for the other sixty hours. That was $130 a week.

When the minimum wage went up to $1.25 we could not longer afford his overtime. He went down to 50 a week and had nothing to do the rest of the time.

The unions were right. Their area has been known as The Rust Belt for a long time. The minimum wage was passed to keep the flow of industry to the South down.