CAIRO – Egypt announced on Tuesday that it will raise its minimum wage to the equivalent of eight U.S. dollars, exceeding the U.S. minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi says he hopes the new wage will attract American immigrants who would like to live in a country that “knows how to take care of its citizens.”
“I’m not saying that our current political situation is perfect,” said Sisi. “But I am saying that if I were struggling to survive on the U.S. minimum wage, I wouldn’t hold my breath for the U.S. Congress to raise it.”
Although Sisi has framed the wage increase as a way for Egypt to bolster its image during a time of violent unrest, some see the move as a subtle “screw you” to the United States afterPresident Obama recently angered Sisi by canceling exercises with Egypt’s military over its violent crackdown.
“I suspect that Egypt wants to distract the international community from its current human rights abuses by highlighting a problem in the United States,” said Harvard economic historian Niall Ferguson. Ferguson predicted in July that unrest in Egypt could lead to civil war, and currently predicts that Egypt’s latest announcement will lead to an “international pissing contest.”
Recent events in the U.S. – including protests by low-wage workers and Wal-Mart’s temper-tantrum over a super-minimum wage law in D.C. – have highlighted both the inadequacy of the U.S. minimum wage and the corporate resistance that prevents it from growing. Earlier this summer, journalists criticized a McDonald’s sample employee budget as evidence that the company is clueless about what it means to live on minimum wage.
According to White House aides, President Obama was “totally pissed off” by Sisi’s latest announcement. Obama responded by calling a press conference in order to praise Egypt for its new minimum wage while also dispelling the notion that Egypt can take better care of America’s lowest-paid workers.
“We might not always pay our citizens enough to feed their families, but we also don’t initiate mass killings in the streets,” said Obama, adding, “General Sisi, I’m looking at you.”
Obama predictably ended the press conference by affirming that he will continue to fund the violent military regime whose abuses he insists he opposes.
“But you know, watch out Sisi, because I might change my mind,” Obama concluded.