Helping the Poor Is the Right Thing to Do, But Maybe Not Much of a Political Winner

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I don’t want to make too big a deal out of one comment from one guy, but here’s the response of a minimum-wage worker who got a big increase when Emeryville raised its minimum wage to $14 per hour:

Security guard Kenneth Lofton was among the workers who benefited last year when this East Bay city hiked its hourly minimum wage to nearly $15 for employees at large companies. The jump was almost 70% more than what he used to make in nearby Oakland when he was paid $10 an hour.

….”It’s somewhat better, but not much,” Lofton said Tuesday morning while eating breakfast and manning the security gate at an Emeryville parking lot. “The high cost of living here takes a big bite out of whatever monetary increase you get, so it’s like not getting an increase at all.”

But, he said, “at least they’re trying.”

This is crazy. If Lofton works full time, he’s seeing an increase of $160 per week. Call it $130 or so after taxes. That’s real money. But “it’s like not getting an increase at all.”

Raising the minimum wage—whether to $12, $14, or $15—is the right thing to do. But as a purely political matter, comments like Lofton’s make you wonder if this kind of thing provides any benefits for Democrats. It earns them plenty of annoyance from employers, along with at least some annoyance from consumers who have to pay higher prices, but it’s not clear if this is offset much by increased loyalty from the folks who are helped. Is Lofton more likely to show up at the polls in November because he got a raise? Hard to say.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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