BRUSHING OFF MINIMUM WAGE - Of Principalities and Powers

(08/19/2006)

By Tony Russell OPINION & COMMENT

Crawford, Texas, August 17

[Concerned] “Mr. President, don’t you think you ought to stop? It’s 105 degrees in the sun, and you’ve been cutting brush for nine hours straight.”

[President, wiping brow with a bandanna] “Has it been that long already? Listen, Ken, I can’t knock off yet. I need the overtime.”

“Why do you have to push yourself this way, sir?”

“To tell the truth, Ken, our family counts on the extra income. I actually get paid minimum wage out of the ranch’s weed eradication fund for every hour I ‘m whacking brush.”

“With the Middle East sliding into chaos, and North Korea testing missiles, and hurricanes and heat waves battering us, and the budget falling off a cliff… Well, just let me say that I’d be glad to float you a loan if you need it, sir, so you could concentrate on your presidential duties.”

“No thanks, Ken. That’s not the way we do things in the Bush family. We don’t take any handouts. I’ll earn this on my own. It’s just that Laura hasn’t had a job for a few years, and things have gotten sorta tight. Another $5.15 an hour makes a difference to the Bushes, but even that’s not enough for folks like us with a family to support. Pass me that canteen, will ya?” [Stuffs bandanna back in pocket]

[Light of understanding dawns] “Oh! Well that explains a lot, Mr. President. So that’s why you come down here every chance you get, calling it ‘vacation,’ and then get in some moonlighting. [Realizes he’s rapidly broiling under the Texas sun] Make that ‘sunlighting.’”

[Takes another swig, then screws top back on canteen] “You got it.”

[Doing some quick mental calculations] “So if we figure you make…what, at $400,000 a year as president, that figures out to almost $8,000 a week—call it a little under $200 an hour for a forty-hour week….”

[President interrupting] “It’s actually only $192.31 an hour.”

“Okay. So if you’re double dipping and add your $5.15 minimum wage to it, that makes it $197.46 per hour. Wow! Even with the full $2.15 an hour raise, you’d be pulling in less than $200 an hour!”

[Bitterly] “It’s those damned Democrats, Ken. Me and the Republicans in Congress tried to get an increase in minimum wage approved, but the Democrats turned their backs on us working people.” [Sympathetically] “That must have really hurt.”...

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