If you can work full-time on the minimum wage and still be in poverty, the minimum wage has FAILED. The Minimum wage first appeared in the National Industrial Recovery Act, but was called out by the Supreme Court. It would be defeated here, and reappear 5 years later in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.
The background of the M.W. is actually fairly interesting. It was part of the N.L.R.A. in the beginning but was called out not due to the wage itself but due to the pressures Roosevelt was trying to put onto businesses for not conforming too the wage, because it wasn’t a required wage but rather one that if used would enable the businesses to have an edge in determining various aspects of business. The Supreme Court ruled the law unconstitutional.
But he’d get it through, by giving his suggested wage to government workers beginning in 1937, forcing private businesses to also begin to use the same wage in order to retain employees. He managed to get it in one state, Washington, and then a federal bill got passed.
F.D.R. once said : “In my Inaugural I laid down the simple proposition that nobody is going to starve in this country. It seems to me to be equally plain that no business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country. By “business” I mean the whole of commerce as well as the whole of industry; by workers I mean all workers, the white collar class as well as the men in overalls; and by living wages I mean more than a bare subsistence level-I mean the wages of decent living.”
F.D.R. believed that the Minimum wage was a living wage. And so do I. Do you?
We need to know the history and purpose of the minimum wage. We need to remember that history. The minimum wage is meant to be a living wage. Not a wage that entraps workers in poverty.