“Forty percent of American workers earn less than $15 an hour and about 5 percent of full-time American workers earn the minimum wage or less, which is certainly not a living wage. Forty percent of Americans don’t have $400 to deal with unexpected expenses, such as medical bills or car repairs.”

Ahhh, yet another quotation about income inequality and fraying American dreams. Who would say such a thing? Upstart Ocasio-Cortez? Old Bernie Sanders? The right Rev. Al Sharpton?

Actually, this quote is from Jamie Dimon, the CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase and an oligarch of high finance. Dimon recently advocated for higher wages, funds to repair America’s infrastructure and an end to a widening income gap.

“That may very well mean taxing the wealthy more,” Dimon explained. “If that does happen, the wealthy should remember that if we improve our society and our economy, then they, in effect, are among the main winners.”

I wish our state legislature was owned by an oligarch who talks like Jamie Dimon. Unfortunately, our state legislators get their campaign cash – and their marching orders – from local oligarchs who approve of low wages and a vast disparity between executive compensation and median employee pay.

This may explain why our legislators are trying to undo Proposition B, which state voters passed with 62 percent support on Nov. 6. A modest proposal, Prop B provides for a gradual raise of the state minimum wage to $12 an hour over several years. Nevertheless …

– Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin, R-Shelbina, has filed a bill to exempt religious schools from Prop B guidelines. Instead religious schools could pay workers the old $7.85 hourly minimum wage.

– Missouri Sen. Mike Cunningham, R-Rogersville, has a bill for workers under age 18 to make 85 percent of the state minimum wage. He would freeze minimum wages for tipped employees.

– Rep. Robert Ross, R-Yukon, has filed a bill to completely repeal Prop B. Even the 75-cent hourly hike that took effect in January would be rescinded.

At a time when the richest 400 Americans have more wealth than the 160 million Americans in the bottom 60 percent, do we really have to nickel and dime working people over a minimum wage of $12 per hour? Or even a $15 minimum wage in St. Louis, which the state legislature saw fit to nullify?

Conflict of Interest?

Of course, I must admit to a conflict of interest writing about pay. I am in the journalism field, which is struggling these days with furloughs, wage freezes, downsizing and layoffs. Our local daily just had another round of buyouts. Who’s left to put out the paper?

One of the best books on income inequality and minimum wage woes is by a journalist Barbara Ehrenreich, who titled her book “Nickled and Dimed.” We in the journalism field sometimes joke that we give each other lots of awards in lieu of adequate pay.

Recently Jo Mannies and Wiley Price, two well-known names in local journalism, received awards from the St. Louis Media History Foundation. They were inducted into its Hall of Fame along with TV, radio, advertising and public relations veterans.

A nice touch at the March 30 media event was the induction of the St. Louis Fire Department into the Hall of Fame. Firefighters were recognized for their efforts to save priceless journalism memorabilia from the horrific fire at the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum at 3524 Russell Blvd. on March 26.

The next round of journalism honors will arrive when the Gateway Journalism Review annual soiree takes place at 6 p.m., April 25, at the Edward Jones headquarters in Des Peres.

Tony Messenger, columnist for the Post-Dispatch, and Lauren Trager, investigative reporter for KMOV News 4, will get Freedom Fighter Awards for their journalism excellence.

Messenger covered the Ferguson protests and has crusaded to end the “jail board” bills keeping poor people incarcerated. Trager broke the Gov. Eric Greitens extra-marital affair story, leading to impeachment proceedings and his eventual resignation.

For more information on April 25th’s event visit: www.gatewayjr.org.