Your front page chart of minimum wages for all the states was very informative (“States raising minimum wage,” Jan. 1). It showed that Washington, the most progressive state in the union, ranks highest at
$9/hour. Iowa ranks in the middle at $7.25.
I have friends and acquaintances who work at Walmart in Decorah for a measly $7.25/hour. This produces yearly earnings of only $18,000, if the workers are lucky enough to work full-time. This is barely above the $17,000 cutoff for the poverty level. They are among the working poor.
Sen. Tom Harkin, who cares about the poor, has introduced a bill in the Senate that would raise the minimum to more than $9 per hour by 2014. To date, Sen. Chuck Grassley has not supported the bill. I urge Iowans to write him a letter to support the bill.
The Walton family, who holds much of Walmart’s stock, is among the richest families in the world with a net worth of $103 billion. This is an amount equal to the combined net worth of the bottom 30 percent of American families (the poor and the lower middle classes). The median net worth of an American family in 2010 was only $77,000, mainly because of previous rapid drops in house values. This disparity is obscene.
What we need is an Occupy Walmart Movement. In December, scores of Walmart employees went on strike nationwide to protest their low pay. This is a good start.
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