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Thursday, June 9, 2005 12:39 am

common sense 6-9-05

art2141

It’s good to have Republicans in charge of several state governments, as well as our national government, because we can always count on them to take care of our country’s big problems — such as making sure that the wages of working people stay low.

Of course, President George W. Bush and the congressional GOP have done their part on this score, rejecting an effort earlier this year to increase the national minimum wage, which has been stuck since 1997 at a paltry $5.15 an hour. That’s $10,500 a year gross for full-time work — a poverty wage that mocks moral decency.

But I was particularly impressed by the extraordinary move recently made by Georgia Republicans to enforce this low-wage ethic on their state’s people. Gov. Sonny Perdue has now signed legislation barring any city in the Peach State from requiring that corporations that get city contracts to pay higher wages than the poverty pay set by the federal government.

How peachy of Perdue! This means that the state’s so-called conservative leaders have come out flat-footed against local control, forcing local elected officials to comply with a federal low-wage standard.

Of course, the governor and his gang are corporatists, not conservatives. They were acting at the behest of contractors who were apoplectic that the city of Atlanta has been considering a living-wage ordinance that would have required government contractors to pay at least $10.15 an hour to workers. That’s hardly lavish pay — about $21,000 a year — but it would allow working families a middle-class possibility and would restore some integrity to the promise of America’s work ethic.

Luckily for the corporate powers, they’ve got stalwarts such as Sonny Perdue ready and willing to abandon any pretense of conservatism, usurp local authority, and stiff working families.

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