Income inequality has become a major issue in politics and around the country. The disparity between the rich and poor has grown to an alarming new high. Some chief executive officers of companies make hundreds of times what the other employees in the business do. This has made life incredibly difficult for a large number of Americans. Wages have been stagnant for some time even though corporate profits are at record highs across many different industries. Although inflation has been low, it is still raising the price of things from year to year. Average workers are no longer making a livable wage in the country.
One of the solutions that many economists talk about is raising the minimum wage in the United States. The minimum wage is the lowest amount that a nonexempt person can make per hour when hired by a business. All states must abide by a set federal minimum wage. Individual states across the country have sometimes tinkered with that amount by increasing it to match the cost of living in the area. Unfortunately, those increased state minimum wages vary wildly from one location to the next. People are being left behind in the economy. Some individuals are being forced to work two to three jobs just to be able to afford housing, food and utilities.
People like President Barack Obama and Robert Reich have attempted to address this issue nationally. There are now many politicians and advocacy groups calling for a hike in the federal minimum wage. Workers have even held massive simultaneous protests in cities all around the United States asking for higher hourly wages. The problem is that there is also a strong opposition to raising the federal minimum wage. The opposition is led primarily by Republican lawmakers and Conservative business organizations like the Chamber of Commerce.
Stuart Varney is a host on the Fox Business Network. He hosts a daily show where he talks about politics and the economy. Varney has been an outspoken and vocal opponent of raising the minimum wage. He has even said that a minimum wage should not be necessary believing market forces would drive up pay. Varney is also well known for shaming the poor for having things like refrigerators instead of living in cardboard boxes. Varney recently had economist Jack Hough on his show to talk about the recent action President Obama took to extend overtime pay to a larger pool of people.
Varney touted the classic line that expanding overtime pay would suddenly lead to millions of lost jobs since companies will not pay the extra costs. The other guests on the show agreed and made derisive comments about poor people. Hough made a very strong argument back. He talked about how not paying a livable wage means workers are forced to use federal benefits and the earned income tax credit. Those programs are paid for by taxpayers. He argued that it was a form of corporate welfare because the businesses were passing the cost of employment onto the country. Expanding overtime pay and increasing the minimum wage puts the burden of paying employees squarely back on the companies and not taxpayers.
Although Varney and his guests were rolling their eyes and laughing, they stopped when Hough finished his statement. One guest looked over and even acknowledged that it was a good point. Hough was subtly pointing out that Varney and his guests usually spout vicious rhetoric about average people who use federal benefits. They do not, however, seem to have problems with corporate welfare in all of the forms it exists in today. It is a hypocritical and contradictory position. It is not likely that his core views will change much considering Varney has made a career out of shaming the poor, advocating for the rich and attacking the underprivileged.