Bureau of Labor data allow for a quick analysis of Maine paychecks. Median wages from the Occupational Employment Statistics show that 148,460 (27 percent) of Mainers earn $24,000 a year or less, approximately $12 an hour. Boost the minimum to $15, and we reach 238,460 Mainers, about 44 percent of us.

The wage distribution in Maine is skewed like in the U.S. generally — the majority earn a little, the minority a lot. The inequality we face is real. This newspaper should challenge the absurd assertion that raising wages destroys the economy while suppressing wages improves it — 50 years of stagnant or falling incomes for most of us have not led to prosperity, but it has confused our governor.

I reject Paul LePage’s anti-minimum wage statements. He demanded a raise for future governors beyond its current $70,000 — low compared to governors of more populous and prosperous states, but easily twice what a typical Mainer makes. He is already as richly paid as just 10 percent of us.

He uses his wife as proof for pity — saying her seasonal waitress gig is necessary to buy a new car. How they cannot afford a car on his current salary is baffling to those that do so with far fewer resources. One hopes that she will not compete too successfully for the tips that her equally hard-working colleagues need to pay skyrocketing rent, health care and education costs. I am sure they too dream of buying foreclosed coastal homes and new cars.

The governor should fight for overdue pay increases for Mainers, not merely himself. It is sad when one would deny the majority of working poor while seeking enrichment for themselves. This is an age of greed versus need, and LePage has it backwards.

Matt Hopkins


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