Former First Lady Hillary Clinton, who campaigned frequently in Kentucky for U.S. Senate candidate Alison Grimes, initially urged voters on Oct. 24 to reject the notion “that it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs” – a theory “that has been tried, that has failed” and that “has failed rather spectacularly”— only to walk it back less than a week later to “our economy grows where businesses and entrepreneurs create good-paying jobs.”
Was Clinton wearing a Halloween mask of President Obama, who once spewed “if you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that,” when she made her first statement?
Since that group apparently is confused about how free-market capitalism operates, it’s understandable how its members, including Grimes, demonstrate such passion about increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 as the way to grow Kentucky’s middle class.
But readers should exercise their basic math skills in the face of such asinine claims: How are paychecks adding up to $21,000 annually even remotely going to lift someone out of poverty?
Fortunately, a growing number of Kentuckians seem unsatisfied with such minimalist solutions.
“We don’t want to sit and draw a check and wait for the mailman to arrive at the mailbox, you know, at the first of the month,” Russell Springs resident Terry Morrison says in a new Bluegrass Institute video.
Morrison’s husband, Claude, found out in April that he would be losing his job at Fruit of the Loom – where he’s worked for 30 years – when the manufacturer closes its Jamestown plant by the end of the year and moves its operation to Honduras.
The issue here is more than some underwear maker leaving Kentucky for cheaper labor elsewhere. Such “creative destruction” – as economists call it – is always going to happen in a capitalistic society.
Rather, the question: Where are the government do-gooders when it comes to really caring about the plight of the Morrisons and 600 other former Fruit of the Loom workers who want good jobs rather than taxpayer-subsidized handouts favored by big-government types?
According to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Michigan – which in December 2012 became the 24th, and most recent, state to implement a right-to-work law – workers in states with such laws have 4.1 percent higher per-capita incomes than those in states like Kentucky that lack such protections for individual workers.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, wages have gone up in all of the states that most recently passed a right-to-work law.
In Oklahoma, average weekly wages have increased from $539 in 2001, when the Sooner State passed its right-to-work law, to $801 in 2012. Indiana, which passed its right-to-work law in 2012, saw average weekly wages increase from $774 to $793 in just the first 11 months after the law was signed by then-Gov. Mitch Daniels.
Those are not minimum wage-size paychecks.
“We’re not stupid people,” Terry Morrison said. “We’re highly educated, we’re hard workers and we do have a right to work.”
When Terry Morrison couldn’t find employment in Russell County – even with a master’s degree – she ended up taking a position more than two hours away that pays barely minimum wage and that requires her to be gone from home 21 days each month.
It’s a shame that the economic futures of good people like the Morrisons are subjected to the whims of incompetent and ideological politicians or their wannabes, who haven’t even earned their GEDs in economics and thus are utterly clueless about how economies grow and jobs are created.
“I sincerely hope that our government and legislators will let our voices be heard because we deserve to be heard because we do want to work,” Terry Morrison said.
You, Terry, and a multitude of your fellow Kentuckians.