Once considered a front runner as the Republican Presidential Nominee in 2016, events in 2014 may have derailed his hopes. Statements in the last week indicate that Chris Christie just doesn’t get it. The Governor of New Jersey displayed a solid Republican attitude which ignores the plight of the poor, the rights and needs of women, and the working class.
His year began with ‘Bridgegate,’ and although Christie was not directly named in the incident, those closest to his administration were. Recently he made known his attitude towards the working class and the nation’s lowest wage earners. While speaking to a group of businessmen in Washington, D.C., he said he was ‘sick and tired of hearing about minimum wage.’ There was no applause from the group. Governor Christie is out of touch with workers who struggle the most to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves and their families.
As he continued talking about the subject, it was obvious that he believes minimum wage is only paid to part time young people who work in the fast food industry. In his own state 24 percent of those earning the state’s minimum wage of $8.25 an hour are working parents, and 45 percent of them have attended college. Good jobs simply aren’t there; they exist in other countries.
After hearing Christie’s comment, Labor Secretary Tom Perez responded that he ‘has his head in the sand.’ Responses by others noted that those who are earning minimum wage are the ones who are tired. Many of them work two jobs in an attempt to obtain one livable wage.
The federal minimum wage is $7.25; President Obama has proposed that it be increased to $10.10. Perez pointed to the sad fact that the United States is third from the bottom regarding the minimum wage standard. Nations more advanced include most of Western Europe, Australia and Mexico.
Is it possible that our nation could elect someone like Christie who has no knowledge of how the American economy works? Once a nation which thrived on manufacturing, our economy has become dependent on the service industry and consumer spending. Raising the minimum wage would result in increased consumer spending.
The financial reports from the fast food industry and retailers reveal record-setting profits. Paying a higher wage to their employees is the right thing to do. It is highly unlikely that they would experience a drastic change in their annual profit margin. Unhealthy though it may be, our lowest paid workers are more likely to purchase meals from fast food establishments. Possessing an income which is adequate for acquiring necessities may also result in disposable income. Stores of all types would see an increase in sales.
Why doesn’t Chris Christie get it? It’s simple economics. Christie lives the good life. His base salary is $175,000 a year, not including benefits and ‘perks.’ His associates have incomes comparable to his or greater. Minimum wage earners in New Jersey earn about $17,000 a year. And they can’t afford to take time off, have little or no benefits, and vacations are out of the question.
By James Turnage