Workers in the fast food industry are going on strike across the country demanding that their wages be increased so that they can live on them. It is long overdue that the minimum wage be doubled to somewhere around $15 per hour. That would do more to end poverty than many of the anti-poverty programs that currently exist.
As William Domhoff shows in a detailed analysis, the level of income and wealth inequality in the US is a scandal and getting worse. There has to be a concerted effort at redistribution and doubling the minimum wage would be a good start.
The objection to this move is that it would hurt the economy. I am not an economist but I don’t buy it. It would mean that the rest of us would pay more for things, but the increase would be nowhere near as large as people imagine. Here is a look at some of the impact that doubling the wages of McDonalds workers would have on the cost of their products.
I would also like to see a doubling of the marginal income tax rates at the upper levels, with the top bracket being at least 70% (compared to the current 35%) but that seems impossible in the current political climate. Paul Krugman says that a Rawlsian model of justice would call for a top tax rate of between 73% and 80%. We should recall that the top rates have been over 90% in the past and even during the Truman and Eisenhower days was around 75%. This was a period of solid growth for the middle class. Starting in 1980 the top tax rates started decreasing from its then value of 70% and this also marked the beginning of increasing inequality.