So far in this series of posts on reducing income inequality in America I’ve said that it would be good if there were less inequality, that greater unionization might help but probably isn’t in the cards (even if EFCA becomes law), that more and better education would be a good thing but isn’t likely to make much of a dent in the inequality problem, and that curtailing globalization is a bad choice for progressives even if it would help a lot. So what should we do?

Recall that there are two key components of the rise in inequality: slow income growth in the lower half (or two-thirds) of the distribution and soaring incomes at the top. Let’s start with the first of these two. I think a key component of an effective and politically feasible strategy is an enhanced statutory minimum wage and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

This year the minimum wage will increase to $7.25 per hour. I’d like to see it raised again in 2010, to $8.00. A more important change is to index the minimum wage to inflation. As the following chart shows, since the late 1970s the minimum wage has been allowed to languish for lengthy periods with no increase, resulting in large declines in its inflation-adjusted value. With increases in 2007, 2008, and 2009, it will be at a reasonably high level compared to the past three decades, though still below its late-1960s peak. Raising it to $8.00/hour and keeping it at that value would be a significant step in the right direction.

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How Mirka Got Her Sword/How Howard Lost His Stogie

by John Holbo on April 16, 2009

We’ll just make it webcomics week for me, here at CT. If you don’t happen to know, “Hereville, How Mirka Got Her Sword” is a great read. It’s a complete story, nice art, peculiar setting, apparently part of a larger graphic novel in progress. (Page 36 is particularly nice, compositionally.)

On the other hand, if you are like me, you probably figured they’d done about as much damage to the Howard the Duck franchise as they were likely to do, at least by means of that 1986 movie. We were wrong. The DVD [amazon] just got released – and they Photoshopped the poor guy’s stogey off the cover. Compare: [click to continue…]