Opinion Columns & Blogs

Ferguson’s fear of ‘socialism’ is misplaced and will hurt the nation’s working folks

“This socialist one-size-fit-all approach ignores the needs of rural America.”

— Rep. Drew Ferguson, on HR 582, the Raise the Wage Act

Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-Ga., issued a press release explaining why he voted against the Raise the Wage Act, ignoring the purpose of the bill (providing a living wage for working stiffs) and instead pivoting to potential lost jobs, supposed ignorance of rural needs and that old boogeyman, “socialism.” Rep. Ferguson, you apparently use that right-wing catch phrase “socialist” to disparage anything you don’t agree with ideologically. And, that’s factually incorrect according to every accepted definition of the term.

According to Ferguson’s unique definition, we have been a socialist nation since 1938. That’s when the Fair Labor Standards Act, which included a minimum wage, was first enacted with both GOP and Democratic congress members voting for it.

The current bill, which passed the House and is stuck in the “Grim Reaper’s” Senate, is just a modification of the 1938 law in order to keep up with the changing economic situation. This has been done 22 times before by the Republican and Democrat socialists running our nation since 1938.

Our nation has more income inequality than virtually any other democracy. Further, wage inequality is now considerably worse than it was 50 years ago (using the minimum wage as a percentage of the average wage, per the Congressional Research Service).

Having a reasonable minimum wage decreases inequality while encouraging those at the margins of our society to get a job. Frankly, with the constantly rising cost of living and failure of the mandated wage base to keep up, that just seems logical and entirely reasonable, especially when we consider that minimum wage legislation was last passed in 2009. And, the HB 582 increases are gradual, starting with $8.40 per hour and only increasing to $15 a full six years after the amended act takes effect. For teenagers and the disabled, the mandated hourly base is considerably less.

As for the rural areas being hurt argument, Rep. Ferguson, do you believe rural people don’t work just as hard as city folks? Why should they get paid less? Frankly, as a former county commissioner from a rural area, I can tell you that a lot of rural residents are leaving because cities pay more. Do you want to push even more rural folks out the door?

Rep. Ferguson, do you truly believe that setting a minimum wage is a socialist plot? If you do, then in your opinion many of our most revered GOP leaders were socialists. President Dwight W. Eisenhower, that well known socialist, gladly signed a minimum wage increase. So did that other far left-wing radical, George W. Bush. You remember him; he’s the same guy who appointed those lefties John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.

Representative, I’ve always been a capitalist. I worked for several corporations, retiring as a senior vice president at 55. But I wasn’t always well off.

Before I got my degrees by going to night school, I remember working for minimum wage with a stay at home wife and two infants. I remember how hard it was to make ends meet.

Evidently, Rep. Ferguson, you never had the same experience on your way to becoming a well-paid dentist. If you had, you would not be calling a bill to help the working man/woman to avoid exploitation and poverty “socialism.”