You can chalk up the 66% of Americans who support raising the minimum wage as yet another sector of the United States that Fox News “patriots” don’t respect. In a “Happening Now” discussion on the subject today, Fox News contributor Angela McGlowan sneered, “I think the Americans that were actually polled did not make a payroll.”
Not surprisingly, McGlowan never considered how raising the minimum wage could lift millions of Americans out of poverty. Instead, she argued that a raise would do little more than provide more taxes to the government. She even suggested that that’s the real motivation behind Democratic officials’ support for the measure.
No, McGlowan’s real concern was for business owners, the only sector of society that seems to deserve consideration in Fox land.
If you raise the minimum wage, that will create more burden on the employer. If you create more burden on the employer, that’s less profability (sic), that means less growth and it could mean job loss and a hiring freeze.
Or it might not. Media Matters has a roundup of studies showing that minimum-wage raises harm neither employers nor employment.
But host Jon Scott seemed more interested in agreeing with McGlowan than providing any balance to her unsubstantiated conjecture. He provided what purported to be an inspiring story of overcoming minimum-wage earnings back when he was a teenager mowing lawns at the University of Denver:
I figured out that I could make more money buying my own lawnmower and the next summer I went out with a buddy of mine and, you know, we mowed lawns for people individually. I increased my wages by, you know, going out and doing it myself. Is that what other people might want to think about doing?
Of course, the real message of this story is that if minimum-wage earners would just show a little gumption and try, they could make more. Plus the suggestion that it's low-paid workers' own fault if they don't.
It has obviously been a long time since Scott was a teenager. He said he thought he earned “a buck, thirty-five” before buying his lawnmower, which means that was almost certainly before 1974 (or earlier), when the minimum wage went from $1.60 to $2.00 an hour. But while Scott suggested he had made do on a much lower minimum wage than today's workers, the opposite is true when adjusted for inflation.
Bloomberg reported in 2011:
(A)fter adjusting for inflation, the federal minimum wage dropped 20 percent from 1967 to 2010, even as the nominal figure climbed to $7.25 an hour from $1.40, a 418 percent gain.
“Hardship is increasing for lower-income levels, and the minimum wage reflects those at the lower end of the payroll spectrum,” said Ellen Zentner, a senior economist at Nomura Securities International Inc. in New York.
But instead of giving that information to the “We report. You decide” network’s viewers, Fox went even further to persuade its viewers that support for the minimum wage is misguided - in this case, by suggesting it is unnecessary. Large graphics on the screen during the discussion read, “63% OF WORKERS WHO WOULD GAIN FROM FED MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE ARE SECOND OR THIRD EARNERS IN THEIR HOUSEHOLDS,” and “ABOUT 85% OF MIN WAGE EARNERS ARE TEENS LIVING WITH WORKING PARENTS, ADULTS LIVING ALONE, OR DUAL EARNER COUPLES.”
Instead of real balance, viewers got seemingly different perspectives that all pointed to the same conservative conclusion.
As for Mr Scott, Ellen’s probably right about when he earned his “dollar, thirty-five.” A quick Google search of “jon scott fox news” turns up the very same man described here. And guess what? He was born on Nov 5, 1958 which means that Ellen’s 1974 guess is probably spot on. Of course, if he was working “for himself”—pretty much how most teenagers mowing lawns do—he probably wasn’t getting minimum wage anyway. When you’re going around the neighborhood offering to mow lawns, you have to gauge the price that the people are willing to pay. Maybe we could all send a petition to FoxNoise and suggest they pay Mr Scott a mere “dollar, thirty-five” an hour since he has such fond memories of making that much as a teen. I’d be willing to bet that FoxNoise would like that while Mr Scott might be a lot less happy about the severe pay cut.