I received an e-mail from Business for a Fair Minimum Wage earlier this week, and it just about made my hair stand on edge.
And that's not an easy thing to do if I don't use a lot of hair product or Elmer's Glue.
Business For a Fair Minimum Wage is, I guess, exactly what it says, a national network of business owners and executives who believe a fair minimum wage makes good business sense. Check it out at businessforafairminimumwage.org.
Its basic logic is this: If people earn more money, they'll spend more money. That, of course, is good for all businesses.
What's not to like about that?
Except for one thing.
It ignores the fact that there are literally millions of Americans in the middle class who haven't seen a raise in four or five years, have seen the strength of the dollar decline, have seen prices on most consumer goods and services increase substantially each year and are trying to balance their budgets at home by cutting back on their spending, all at a time when government sends us farther and farther into debt by spending money it doesn't have and borrowing money to pay its bills.
Now I know this is going to make me sound like a whiner -- I don't care. And I know this is going to make me appear selfish and vindictive and self-centered and stingy and piggish, but -- well, I don't care about that, either.
The truth is those of us sitting in the middle are getting hammered. And no one seems to be looking out for our interests.
Here's the thing: The rich are only getting richer. That's a fact. America's wealthiest citizens have seen their net worth go up in the last five years because they had the disposable income to invest as stock market prices dropped and then started to rise again.
The top 1 percent has seen its worth go up even more.
In the meantime, middle America has taken it on the chin -- the buying power of our income decreased, because we haven't gotten pay raises that would allow us to keep up with inflation as the economy started to rebound.
And on the other end of the economy, we've seen lots of government agencies and business organizations screaming about the validity of increasing the minimum wage to improve the buying power of low-income workers.
Which might not be such a bad thing if you don't put yourself in the shoes of the person in the middle -- those of us who pursued a higher education, those who have job experience on their side, those who have patiently worked themselves up the ladder, always keeping their eye on the prize, and those who have made the sacrifices necessary to afford a decent standard of living -- only to have the rich widen the income gap above them and the poor narrow the income gap below them without having to do much of anything to earn it.
I'm sorry, but those of us in the middle are slip-sliding down that slope leading to prosperity, only we're heading in the wrong direction.
And I don't hear anyone crying the blues for us. I don't hear anyone calling for a minimum wage for the middle class. I don't hear anyone saying it would benefit the economy by providing a raise for those of us in the middle of the pack.
Because, after all, some of us -- if we actually had more money -- might spend it, too. Or we might save some of it. We might take a vacation. We might use it to send our kids to college. C'mon, throw some of that money our way.
But Business for a Fair Minimum Wage can't see the forest for the trees. It somehow sees the benefit of increasing the minimum wage for those at the bottom of the stack, but doesn't see the benefit of increasing wages for those in the middle of the pack for all of the same reasons.
It's almost like they think our incomes are high enough already. We don't deserve more.
Well, phooey on that.
"Business owners urge a minimum wage increase to strengthen the economy as today marks four years without a raise," according to the press release.
Well, I have news for them. There are a lot of workers in the middle class who haven't had a raise in four years, either. And maybe they're the lucky ones, at that, because a bunch of middle class workers have lost their jobs and they either haven't found a new one or are working for significantly lower pay at the job they have.
Yes, it's true, "today's minimum wage workers have far less buying power than their counterparts did in 1968, when the minimum wage was at its highest value of $10.74, adjusted for inflation."
I might also suggest the buying power for those of us in the middle class is a lot less today than it was 10 years ago.
So any time someone wants to stand up and rally the troops in favor of pay raises for the middle class, I'm all ears.
Don't worry, I won't be holding my breath waiting for that to happen.
Because the rich keep getting richer, the poor could be getting richer and the rest of us, as usual, will be left holding the bag.
So what's new?
Columns by Larry A. Hicks, Dispatch columnist, run Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. E-mail: email@example.com.