The debate over raising the minimum wage is generally pretty straightforward: proponents, mainly on the left, argue that raising the minimum would help alleviate poverty and boost buying power, which in turn helps the broader economy. Opponents, mainly on the right, argue that higher wages discourages hiring and stunts growth.
It's led to a spirited dispute, but the resolution of the argument can be nearly as straightforward if we consider the evidence.
New data show that the 13 states that raised the minimum wage this year are adding jobs at a faster pace than those that did not.
State-by-state hiring data released Friday by the Labor Department reveal that in the 13 states that boosted minimum wages at the beginning of this year, the number of jobs grew an average of 0.85 percent from January to June. The average in the other 37 states was 0.61 percent, the Associated Press reports.
President Obama and congressional Democrats have fought consistently for a higher minimum wage, but have been unable to overcome opposition from congressional Republicans. But as we've discussed many times, GOP-imposed gridlock on Capitol Hill hasn't meant an end to the debate; it's simply shifted the debate to state capitols.
With this in mind, a variety of states, mostly under Democratic control, have approved wage increases, well beyond the floor set by federal law. In each instance, there were critics on the right in those states insisting that if their state passed a higher minimum wage, it would put their state at a competitive disadvantage. The result, conservatives argued, would mean weaker local economies.
Except, now we know they were wrong. States that raised their minimum wage have added more jobs than states that didn't.
On "Meet the Press" yesterday, Secretary of State John Kerry concluded his appearance with a big-picture assessment: "[T]he American people ought to be proud of what this president has done in terms of peaceful, diplomatic engagement, rather than quick trigger deploying troops, starting or engaging in a war of choice. I think the president's on the right track -- and I think we have the facts to prove it."
Soon after, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) appeared on the same program and called Kerry's perspective "ridiculous and delusional." The Republican senator added, "It scares me that he believes the world is in such good shape."
There's a lot of this going around. Many U.S. observers look at the world -- war in Ukraine, deadly violence in Israel, deteriorating conditions in Central America forcing unattended children north, civil war in Syria -- and see a planet unraveling. The turmoil, they insist, is not only terrifying, but also unlike anything Americans have seen in recent memory.
Indeed, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said last week that there's "greater turmoil" in the world now than at any time "in my lifetime." McCain's lifetime includes the entirety of World War II, Vietnam, and the Cold War.
There's no denying that the tumult is scary, and for those affected and confronted with bloodshed first hand, heartbreaking. That said, for those arguing that the entire world is unraveling before our eyes, some context is in order. This exchange on ABC yesterday between George Stephanopoulos and The New Republic's Julia Ioffe rang true:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Julia Ioffe, I was struck by a piece you wrote this week, where you said it was somewhat egotistical, I think it was our word, for us to focus on how great the turmoil is in the world right now. We have to put it in context.
IOFFE: That's right. You know, I talked to a bunch of historians. Every generation has this moment that they believe that they're the ones able to identify a moment of great change and great turmoil that is unique and different and worse than all other moments of turmoil and change that came before. I mean, just look at what happened in 2001, you had the second intifada in Israel-Palestine, you had the September 11 attacks, had the invasion of Afghanistan, that was a pretty bad year, too. And we're still alive. We're still here. We're still kicking.
First up from the God Machine this week is a story out of our nation's capital, where the prospect for a new museum is raising eyebrows.
Currently, the National Mall and its surrounding area offer a wide variety of history museums, science museums, and art museums. Is it time for a Bible museum? Hobby Lobby's corporate owners apparently believe it is.
The evangelical Christian family that owns Hobby Lobby, the chain of craft stores, made history two weeks ago when the Supreme Court overturned the Obama administration's mandate that family-owned companies must provide contraceptive coverage to their employees.
Now, the family is looking to build a permanent presence on the Washington landscape, by establishing a sprawling museum dedicated to the Bible -- just two blocks south of the National Mall.
It's a reminder of the Oklahoma-based Green family's broad ambitions. What started as a national arts-and-crafts chain has now ventured into legal and educational efforts, which includes school curricula and now a possible D.C. museum.
Some of the details of the museum plan are murky, but Hobby Lobby president Steve Green reflected last year on the ostensible goal, telling an audience last year, "This nation is in danger because of its ignorance of what God has taught. There are lessons from the past that we can learn from, the dangers of ignorance of this book. We need to know it. If we don't know it, our future is going to be very scary."
The reported target date for opening the Bible museum is 2017. As the New York Times' report added, the Green family's Museum of the Bible nonprofit organization bought a 400,000-square-foot space for the facility in 2012 for $50 million.
Rachel Maddow whittles away the unsubstantiated reports in the Malaysia Airlines plane crash investigation and points out that NATO warned the world on June 30th that Russia was training Ukrainian separatists on vehicle-borne anti-aircraft capability. watch
Nina Khrushcheva, professor of foreign policy and international affairs at New School University, talks with Rachel Maddow about how the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine complicates international relations for Vladimir Putin. watch
Rachel Maddow reports on the spate of conspiracy theories floated in the wake of the shooting down of flight MH17, spread by people with an interest in making accountability more difficult, some of whom are in control of the crash site and evidence. watch
Rachel Maddow reports on the widely scattered debris from the shooting down of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet and the access to the site by rebel fighters, media, well-wishers and others who make it harder for investigators to gather important... watch
Kathryn Higgins, former member of the National Transportation Safety Board, talks with Rachel Maddow about the difficult conditions investigators face at the site of the wreckage of MH17, and what conclusions those investigators can be expected to reach. watch
* Malaysia Airlines Flight 17: "At least one American citizen died in the Malaysia Airlines flight that was shot down in eastern Ukraine, President Obama said Friday at the White House. Obama called the crash an "outrage of unspeakable proportions" and expressed sympathy for the Netherlands, where Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 originated on Thursday."
* Related news: "The president confirmed that a surface-to-air missile launched from an area controlled by Russian-backed separatists downed the plane in Ukraine. The airliner was flying at about 33,000 feet when it last made contact with radar Thursday. Obama added that the U.S. is still gathering evidence on who ordered the attack on the flight and why. 'The shot was taken within territory that is controlled by the Russian separatists,' Obama said."
* Among the victims: "A number of AIDS researchers and prevention advocates, including pioneering expert Dr. Joep Lange, presumably perished on board Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which crashed Thursday in eastern Ukraine having been shot down by a missile. The activists were en route to Melbourne, Australia, for the 20th International AIDS Conference, due to begin on Sunday."
* Gaza: "Even as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday that he had ordered Israel's military to 'prepare for the possibility of widening, significantly,' its ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, troops operated mainly near Gaza's borders in what Israeli officials emphasized was a modest mission targeting tunnels into their territory."
* A poor start: "The United States is 'very concerned' that international investigators were only given 75 minutes to survey the wreckage of the Malaysian Airlines jet shot down over rebel-controlled territory in eastern Ukraine, the State Department said Friday."
* EU: "German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday it was too soon to move on tougher sanctions against Russia after the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17."
* LGBT: "President Barack Obama on Monday will sign an executive order banning workplace discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender workers of federal contractors and the federal government."
* Marriage equality: "The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday affirmed a second decision striking down a state's gay marriage ban -- this time in Oklahoma. The decision was expected after the court issued a similar ruling last month finding a gay marriage ban in Utah also violated the U.S. Constitution's Equal Protection and Due Process clauses. The decision Friday was stayed to give time for appeal, possibly to the Supreme Court, as Utah has done."