Media Manic About Wage Increase
The federal minimum wage went up on by 70 cents July 24, to the delight of liberal politicians and many journalists.
CNNâ€™s Ali Velshi greeted the change calling it â€śunmitigated good newsâ€ť on â€śAmerican Morningâ€ť July 24.
â€śWeâ€™ve been underpaying minimum wage earners for too long,â€ť Velshi continued.
ABCâ€™s Claire Shipman also called it â€śgood news for thousands of low-paid workers,â€ť on â€śGood Morning Americaâ€ť July 24.
Jack Cafferty provided a little more cynical perspective on July 25. CNNâ€™s â€śSituation Roomâ€ť co-anchor said, â€śItâ€™s nice they increased the minimum wage, but, I mean, this [the Democratâ€™s rally to celebrate] is kind of overdoing it.â€ť
The minimum wage increase, which will continue to rise 70 cents per year until 2009 when it stops at $7.25 an hour, was a high priority for the new Democratic majority that took office in 2007. Some left-wing politicians began discussing further hikes just as the July 24 increase went into effect. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) is leading the charge to establish a $9.50 an hour minimum wage.
Democratic presidential candidates Sen.
While some politicians and members of the media have said this is good news for
Media merriment over the 13.5 percent increase was to be expected since CNN, PBS, ABC, USA Today and The Washington Post all showed support for an increase when it was on the Democrats â€ś100 hourâ€ť agenda.
On January 2, Velshi declared that â€śitâ€™s simply not fair that there has been a federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour. CNNâ€™s Andy Serwer, now running Fortune magazine, called arguments against a minimum wage hike â€śa lot of bullâ€ť on the June 24, 2006 â€śIn the Money.â€ť
Of course, even the increase wasnâ€™t enough for some people like CNNâ€™s Lou Dobbs who suggested to CBS viewers that there is much more to be done.
We Make Millions, But Weâ€™ll Pretend Weâ€™re Just Like You
Both CNNâ€™s Dobbs and CBSâ€™s Harry Smith were living the fantasy of the common man on July 24, pretending that the minimum wage increase has some affect on their lives.
The increase turns out to be â€śjust about a 10 percent raise for those folks on minimum wage, about two million of us,â€ť said Dobbs in his commentary during â€śThe Early Showâ€ť on CBS.
The article, titled â€śDream Jobs: News Anchor,â€ť interviewed CNN International anchor Jonathan Mann, who said anchoring â€śis probably one of the lucrative jobs in the television industry.â€ť In addition to anchoring, Dobbs also has had sideline operations including his latest book, â€śThe War on the Middle Class,â€ť and a financial newsletter.
In the same July 24 broadcast, â€śEarly Showâ€ť co-anchor Harry Smith also tried to sound like an average Joe. In an interview with home and garden expert Danny Lipford Smith said, â€śnow that the minimum wage is going up, maybe we can afford it.â€ť Harry Smith actually earns $3 million salary according to the July 26 TV Guide.
Dobbs was also wrong to say that â€śtwo millionâ€ť people make the minimum wage. According to Heritage Foundation policy paper, only 1.2 million Americans earn the minimum wage or less once tips are included in the figure.
Most [52 percent] of minimum-wage earners are between the ages of 16 and 24 and are working part-time before finishing their education, James Sherk and Rea S. Hederman, Jr. explained in the paper.
â€śWeâ€™re Still Sorry.â€ť
Even with the July 24 wage hike to $5.85 an hour, which will increase again in the next two years to $7.25 an hour, some in the media are dissatisfied.
â€ś[W]e found out if youâ€™re earning the federal minimum wage and youâ€™re working full-time in this country, weâ€™re still sorry,â€ť said co-host Christine Romans on CNNâ€™s â€śYour $$$$$ [Money]â€ť July 28.
Dobbs expressed a similar perspective on CBSâ€™s â€śEarly Showâ€ť July 24. In this weekly rant, he declared the increase â€śsimply isnâ€™t enoughâ€ť and then advocated a much larger increase.
Julie Chen asked Dobbs, â€śWhat do you think the minimum wage should be today?â€ť
Dobbs replied, â€śTo adjust to purchasing power, youâ€™re talking about nearly $10 an hour. And thatâ€™s a minimum wage to put us back to where we were 50 years ago. Thatâ€™s an insult.â€ť
Many economists argue that instead of helping poor low-skilled workers, the minimum wage increase could actually hurt them. In fact, a survey of the American Economic Association found that â€śover 73 percent of AEA labor economists believe that a significant increase [in the minimum wage] will lead to employment losses and 68 percent think these employment losses fall disproportionately on the least skilled.â€ť
Still, the CBS â€śMorning Newsâ€ť on July 24 shared Dobbs point of view. â€ś[M]any labor experts say itâ€™s not enough,â€ť said Alexis Christoforous without quoting or naming any of those experts. She didnâ€™t even mention economic experts who would say that the increase could mean fewer hours or even job loss.
Walter Williams, an economist and BMI adviser, has written: â€śif higher minimum wages could cure poverty, we could easily end worldwide poverty simply by telling poor nations to legislate higher minimum wages.â€ť
Economic perspective was completely missing from many of the networksâ€™ joyful reports about the wage hike.
CNNâ€™s Ali Velshi indicated on July 24 that another perspective existed, but then glossed over it in his â€śMinding Your Businessâ€ť segment.
â€śThere are lots of sides to this story. There is no question about that, but itâ€™s good news,â€ť concluded Velshi. The only nod to another perspective was when Velshi said small businesses are a little â€śirkedâ€ť about the increase.
In contrast, the July 24
Freedman said, â€śthe higher federal minimum wage could mean fewer hours for employees, fewer pay increases for other employees, benefits reductions, job losses and waning job creation.â€ť
â€ś[A]ny time you have to arbitrarily increase labor costs, they have to cover the costs in some ways â€¦ They have to pay more and get nothing out of it,â€ť he explained.