New Orleans The Louisiana legislature joined the chorus and declared, Equal Pay Day. The day, acknowledged by some, notes the number of days in the year that it has taken women to do the work necessary to be paid the same as men. Irony is unknown to most legislators, but, trust me on this, their notion of equal pay is enshrined in the state minimum wage in Louisiana. The state minimum wage is very equal in the state and has been frozen even longer than the federal minimum wage, because in fact Louisiana has no set minimum wage whatsoever. An employer not involved in interstate commerce, triggering the mealy $7.25 federal minimum wage, could pay a worker any old thing they felt like without a worry in the world that the state would fine or enforce something different. The legislature is so certain that they want equal pay to be near zero, or at least as near as they can get, that they also passed a law years ago to make sure that no other jurisdiction, like a city or parish, could pass a minimum wage within their boundaries.
Was that a tangent? I hope not. Women categorically should be paid the same as men. Both should be paid better. There’s a lot of work undone on that count.
The United States Senate passed a bill, described as ending controversy, to make Daylight Savings Time permanent. Really? Was that a hot button issue up there in Washington? Or was some Senator cleaning up around their desk and noticed that they hadn’t changed their clock yesterday, so decided they would put this on their “to do” list?
If we’re cleaning out the cupboards, how about finally raising the federal minimum wage and strengthening the wage floor for all workers in the country?
The federal minimum wage has become one of the great public policy after thoughts. We are barraged throughout the year with news about companies and governments adopting $15 per hour standards. More recently as inflation soars, we read about companies boosting minimums to $18 and even $20 per hour.
Economists argue that fewer and fewer workers are making $7.25 as different actors raise wages. If this is the case, and certainly it must be, what’s the harm in finally raising the minimum wage? Why not make all boats rise, as the saying goes, including in Southern states like Louisiana where equal pay is arguably legally close to no pay at all?
In this moment there are more jobs than workers willing to take them. There can’t possibly be an argument now that raising the federal minimum wage will be a “job killer”.
There’s Daylight Savings Time and then there’s “it’s past time”, and raising the minimum wage is at the top of that list.