By Law: Alabama Low-Earners Can’t Earn 1/3 What State Workers Do



The state of Alabama, never known to be the most forward-looking of territories, has enacted a law barring cities, towns or whatever from enacting minimum wage laws exceeding the federal one, which now is $7.25 per hour. (At 40 hours per week, year round, that provides a worker an almost-impossible-to-live-on $15,080 a year.)

One objective of the law is to prevent Birmingham, the state’s largest city (pop. 212,237 or thereabouts) from mandating a minimum wage of a massive $10.10 an hour – still barely a living wage.

Why did the state legislature find it necessary to create, vote for and pass such a law (which the state’s governor signed an hour or so after it was passed)? Because, simply stated, some well-healed business people opposed Birmingham’s plan to push forward an almost-living-wage minimum wage law. You can assume those business people prevailed, in their lobbying efforts, thanks to their contributions to assorted elected officials – many of whom, you might also assume, are over paid.

I know this is apples and oranges, comparing something going on in one state to something going on in another, but I happened to learn today about the salaries being paid by a Virginia-based member of the House of Representatives to his staff.

Now I fully appreciate that the cost of living in my pretty-damn-rural part of Virginia are nothing like the costs of living in Washington. But not all of his staff members live in the over-priced District of Columbia.

The wealthiest ten percent of people in my town (pop. <4,000) probably earn less than $50k-$60k per year. The average family income, hereabouts, is closer to $30,000.

At least one of our area’s  Congressman’s based-outside-of-Washington staffers is paid more than double the higher of estimates of what our town’s highest earners do.

Doesn’t earn – is paid.

Like professional athletes don’t earn the massive sums too many of them are paid.

But get this: A 2012 report by Alabama’s state personnel department shows that the state’s employees – who more than likely earn less than the state’s elected legislators – pull in an average of $42,966 a year.

Why are taxpayers in Alabama supporting wages at that level for their public servants when they themselves – the poorest of them, anyway – don’t stand a chance of earning much more than one third as much as their public servants’ average wage?

Hamlet said something was rotten in the state of Denmark. I’m saying the same of the state of Alabama.