MINIMUM DECENCY….Douglas MacKinnon, Bob Dole’s former press secretary, takes his fellow Republicans to task for opposing a small increase in the minimum wage:

I’m a Republican with a somewhat unusual perspective on this issue: I grew up in abject poverty and was homeless a number of times as a child. Poverty has never been an academic or partisan issue for me. It destroys the human spirit, creates crime, divides classes, fosters misunderstandings and, worst of all, crushes innocent children.

….Americans who exist below the poverty line do so mostly because of accidents of birth or circumstances beyond their control. Instead of the Hamptons, they were born in Harlem. Instead of order, they are surrounded by dysfunction. Until you’ve been there, you have no idea of the pain, humiliation and hopelessness. The poor in the United States are not “non-persons.” They have the same hopes, dreams, fears and integrity that the well-to-do have. All they lack is enough money to care for their children and themselves.

The minimum-wage hike is not much but, below the poverty line, every penny counts. The Senate should strip it out of the foreign aid authorization bill and approve it immediately. Morally, it is the right thing to do. As a Republican, I would say that to represent the majority, we must serve the majority. We must be there for those in need.

We, as a people, are better than this.

In any version of compassionate conservatism in which the “compassionate” part was more than 1% of the mix, this would be a no-brainer. Democrats eventually accepted the need for welfare reform, so why can’t Republicans accept the need to treat the working poor with minimal decency? Instead, they nod approvingly as the minimum wage drops 40% over the past 35 years.

These aren’t welfare bums getting huge government handouts that we’re talking about, these are the people who want to work, the people that conservatives are supposedly trying to encourage. So why don’t they put their money where their mouths are?

Can there ever be a decent Republican party while they oppose simple acts of decency like a (barely) livable minimum wage? I doubt it.

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