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Ralph Nader: Raise the Minimum Wage
Posted on Feb 27, 2012
By Chris Hedges
Nader believes that the call to raise the minimum wage has the potential to divide the Republican Party, which has not been split on any major issue in Congress since Obama took office. He says that the economic suffering of low-income Americans is so severe that some Republican candidates running for office would be loath to ignore a groundswell in their districts calling for an increase in the minimum wage. But the pressure has to be exerted between now and the November elections. Once the elections are concluded, nothing will be passed that is not orchestrated, funded and authored by corporate lobbyists.
Past campaigns to raise the minimum wage have proved very popular. ACORN, in 2004, organized a statewide referendum in Florida to raise the minimum wage by a dollar. Once the proposal was on the ballot, corporate forces launched a lavishly funded assault against the initiative. The battle to defeat the measure was spearheaded by fast food corporations such as McDonald’s and Burger King as well as chain stores such as Wal-Mart and Kmart. There was no money to fund ads to counter the corporate propaganda or support the proposal. The initiative, despite the public relations onslaught, won by 71 percent. To placate his corporate backers, the Democratic presidential candidate, John Kerry, refused to support the ballot initiative, although he desperately needed Florida to win the election.
“How much political courage does it take to stand up for guys making $7.25 an hour while the head of Wal-Mart is making $11,000 an hour?” Nader asked. “What medieval period had that kind of wealth disparity?
“This campaign, if successful, would make the Occupy movement the chief movement in the country,” Nader said. “It would be a movement that got something done. It could build on this.
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“To be able to spearhead a coalition that includes the AFL-CIO, minority groups and local community groups will show that the movement can leverage power,” Nader said. “It has not shown this so far. The most accessible bastion of corporate power, the most sensitive of the three branches of government, is the legislature, and not just Congress, but state legislatures. This is a winnable issue. It fulfills the 99 percent motto. And the movement can be very effective because it has developed a unique ability to carry out daily demonstrations. If the movement can get the minimum wage raised, it will gain enormous power. Who has gotten anything on the progressive agenda through Congress in the last few years? A victory would permit the Occupy movement to fill this power vacuum. Once you win a battle in Congress, you produce a penumbra of power. This penumbra stops bad things from happening. It curtails the arrogance of the Republican Party. It empowers new and fresh leadership.”
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