…famous populist spectator leads another parade – US minimum wage…

The US President speaks out forcefully and passionately in favour of a higher minimum wage and against growing economic inequality in the US. Truly, leadership you can believe in.

According to Paul Lewis of The Guardian,  Obama throws support to minimum wage movement in economy speech

Obama delivered the remarks in Anacostia, one of the most deprived neighbourhoods in the capital, the day before hundreds of fast-food restaurant workers in more than a hundred US cities strike in a major demonstration over low pay.


It has become something of a signature of the president’s speeches on the economy for him to deliver rousing remarks about the need to tackle entrenched inequality; critics argue he has proven far less effective at doing anything about it.

[Bold added for emphasis]

And to get better context, Lauren McCauley over at common dreams has her post, Workers Demand Livable Wage in Hundred-City Strike, from which we give a snippet,

What began with a series of actions led by roughly 200 workers in New York last November has grown into a national movement for a livable wage. Workers for such corporate giants as McDonald’s Corp., Burger King Worldwide Inc. and Yum! Brands (which includes Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and KFC) in over 100 cities are expected to walk off the job Thursday

[Bold added for emphasis]

For graphical context, using FRED data we reproduce that chart in a Krugman blog post of 1 December, Wreck the Malls. The chart shows the trajectory of average hourly wages of production and non-supervisory employees in retail trades, and measured in real (CPIAUSL, 82-84) dollars. As survival wage, not so hot is it? And for how many years? A ‘Dickens’ Christmas ahead for the multitudes?

Ave Hourly Wage Production Nonsupervisory Workers, Retail

So, to return to the story, the thing started in November, and instead of failing to fizzle out, only gathered momentum and is now national, and very public. So that was a year ago then? What to say? No one would dare suggest the appearance of a cynical opportunist to slow the momentum or claim ownership if the momentum succeeds. Nor suggest that all of Wall Street was fully represented in the US President’s first term. Nor suggest that the same president was only recently on a fund-raising trip in California, and doing so among its ricachones, his true ‘comfort zone’. Nor suggest that an increasingly non-mainstream Pope Francis had, just over a week ago, broached the long-festering issue of relentless greed and continuing deprivation of the voiceless, and was withering in his criticism at the human misery caused – with focus specifically on the US model of society.

…nothing like a parade, especially for that ever exuberant spectator who demands to lead the good ones…