The Politics of Symbolism

The Politics of Symbolism - The Politics of Symbolism By...

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The Politics of Symbolism By Robert J. Samuelson Newsweek / Jan. 22, 2007 issue - Fulfilling their promise, Democrats in the House have voted to raise the minimum wagefrom its current $5.15 an hour to $7.25 by 2009. But before you count the big gains for low-income families, consider this fact: among the poorest fifth of U.S. households (their 2005 incomes: less than $19,178), only one in seven actually has a full-time, year-round worker. About 60 percent have no worker at all, says the Census Bureau. The rest have part-time or part-year workers. A higher minimum wage won't help most of these households, which consist heavily of single parents and the elderly. Among social scientists, it's no secret that the minimum wage is a weak weapon against poverty. Modest numbers of workers are affected; a lot are teenagers, often from middle-class homes; and many of the poor don't work. And a higher minimum may destroy some jobs. No matter. Democrats plunged ahead because raising the minimum wage is symbolically powerful. It says that you care about "economic justice." This is, I think, a metaphor for what ails our politics: it's mostly about gestures and giveaways; it's not about hard choices.
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This test prep was uploaded on 04/04/2008 for the course PS 123 taught by Professor Lane during the Fall '07 term at Saginaw Valley.

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The Politics of Symbolism - The Politics of Symbolism By...

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