It is hard to believe that being paid a living wage is actually a “stance” in the United States of America. I mean, it’s not in just about every other developed nation, but here, one of the richest countries on Earth, yes…there are “sides” to this argument.
I could understand if people were talking about getting raises when they are already making enough or more than enough to live on. But we’re talking about being paid enough to live. That’s it.
Some of the arguments against raising the minimum wage are sad and others, downright laughable. Like, you really said that with a straight face? funny. People really do believe some of this stuff.
But here are a few of those arguments and my “humble” way of destroying them:
Argument #1: “Fast food/minimum wage jobs were meant to be entry-level! People aren’t expected to stay at these jobs!”
Says who? Really; who exactly decided this? I don’t mean when your cousin, best friend or that celebrity you worship posted it on social media. I don’t mean what you or others “think.” When was this officially determined?
The problem with this argument is a number of things. First of all, who interviews someone for a job with the expectation that they will only be there for a short period of time? I am not talking about a position that is determined ahead of time to be temporary. If a potential employee said, during the interview, “I only plan to be here for a few years and that’s it,” however accurate that might be, what would that put into your head as the person interviewing them? The person is already considering when they will be done before they start. Whatever sounds good, that just isn’t the reality. Employers don’t hire people for a full-time position even thinking about when that person will leave. Otherwise, they would probably just move on to someone else.
Also, who decided that this mainly applies to fast food restaurants? For starters, I already cannot stand how society views those who work in fast food. Yes, many of them are teenagers and/or young adults. Sure, they might not have the best manners (not justifying). But there are people who are not teens or young adults who work in the fast food industry. Should they be grouped in with the “worst of the worst”?
Not to mention, this country already has thing with people feeling they are “too good” for certain jobs; fast food being one of them. So a person decides that they are not too good to work in fast food. Not only do you believe they should be grouped in with the teenagers and young adults who don’t show much pride in their work, but they should also NOT be paid a living wage, just because of who YOU think that type of job was intended for and how long they should stay there? That’s pretty rude and selfish.
The truth is that most teenagers cannot work full-time because of school and other school activities. That is what part-time is for. But not every person who works in fast food falls into this category. There is no reason they should be treated as though they will plan to leave in short time, or in the other foul ways we treat those who work in this industry.
I know of people who have stayed in fast food because they enjoy serving others. Ever think about that? Some actually do, *gulp*…enjoy the job. Of course, middle-aged folks are far removed from when they worked in fast food (if they ever did in the first place), so it may “beneath” them a bit. But some stay and become managers, which pay much more than the $15 an hour people are asking for. I even know of a few instances where some have ended up owning a restaurant where they originally worked. It happens.
Minimum wage actually was enough to live on at one time, back when gas wasn’t 100 bucks a gallon. But with everything going up except for minimum wage, it isn’t anymore. If money everywhere else was okay to raise, why not what people get paid?
Argument #2: “If they get raises, then they’ll be making as much/more than me!”
I get this, but here’s the thing. People are not necessarily asking to “make the same amount as other jobs make.” They are asking for a living wage. This should not be viewed as a competition. There are a LOT of people being grossly underpaid for their work. But that doesn’t mean it makes sense to be angry at those who want to be paid enough just to live. The problem isn’t with them. It’s with the company you work for and who decided that you were only worth what they decided to pay you. Random people aren’t the enemy here.
I am not without compassion. For example, if minimum wage goes up to $15, there will be certain people making the same or nearly the same as teachers/educators. These folks do go through years of school and training to do this job, and they also have to deal with our kids during the day when we’re at work. It takes a special person to want to go into teaching and educating. So their pay is definitely a separate issue that needs to be addressed.
Also, while this is technically a “raise,” I see this as different than a raise in the traditional sense. This is not a “raise” due to exceptional job performance or even longevity within a certain position. This is raising something that frankly, should have been raised a long time ago when everything else went up.
But again, it should not be looked at as a competition of some kind. That’s how companies justify continuing to underpay. As long as you’re mad at the wrong people, they don’t have to do the right thing.
Argument #3: “If they get $15 an hour, then prices will go up!”
Prices don’t have to go up. That’s the thing. And prices have been going up. Let’s think about this for a second; is there an expectation that all prices had to go up? Any chance that some companies raise their prices, not for fear of bankruptcy or going out of business, but because it’s a “good” time to do so?
Also, many states are not implementing a minimum wage increase as a one-time hike. This is being increased slowly over time. For example, in Florida, minimum wage won’t actually reach $15 until September 30, 2026. Here is how it will increase:
January 1, 2021 – $8.65; September 30, 2021 – $10.00; then an additional $1 each year until 2026.
When companies start businesses or decide how many people they will hire, you mean to tell me they accounted for everything except periodic increases in employee salaries? That sounds like a problem to me. It sounds like they were more concerned with making money and not who will help them do so. When you are prepared to raise your prices but not your employee salaries, you shouldn’t be in business. Period.
The way I see it is like this: Either the company/organization could easily increase pay without having to raise prices and they are choosing not to, or they did a poor job in initially setting things up so that employees were the last to be considered as far as pay was concerned. Big problem either way. But that falls on the business. I can see this maybe being the case for small businesses, but if McDonald’s cannot “afford” a $1 increase in minimum wage without inflating everything else, something sounds McFishy to me.
Argument #4: “Raising the minimum wage will hurt businesses!”
I would like to think that having no employees will hurt businesses also. I find it incredibly sad that we are more concerned with businesses than the people who keep those businesses going.
Don’t get me wrong; I am not advocating that all small businesses fail by raising everyone’s pay. But the truth is that most of those who start even small businesses are in a little better shape than those who would work for them. In most cases, the employee is worst off than the business owner. So why do we, as a country, feel more for the business owner, who likely has cash and other assets to fall back on, than we do the person who busts his or her ass for that same business, just to barely have enough to pay their bills? And to the extent that many have to work two and three jobs just to be able to do this?
If a business was “hurting,” at worst, they go out of business. That matters, but let’s look at that when compared to when someone who works for that business is “hurting.” I just know that there is far more evidence of people being homeless as a result of not being paid a living wage than business owners being homeless once a business fails. It simply comes down to the fact that we are disrespecting the very people who will keep that business going. And again, we’re not talking about insane raises. Just enough to live on. That’s it. If you feel more sorry for the business that might fail than the person who straight-up tells you that he or she needs two or three jobs in order to just pay their bills because they are not being paid enough to live on, then that’s a real problem.
Argument #5 “Raising the minimum wage will make people lazy!”
Let’s do some basic math here:
$15 per hour x 40 hours per week = $600 per week
$600 per week x 52 weeks = $31,200 per year.
That’s what all this fuss is about?! Barely over $30K a year?! And this is before taxes. Also, provided that you’re lucky enough to get paid vacation, life and dental insurance, etc.
What matters even more is the monthly pay, which at this rate would add up to about $2,400 per month (again, before taxes).
Now let’s look at median rent in the most expensive areas of the country (according to https://www.fortunebuilders.com/top-10-u-s-cities-with-the-highest-rents/). This is for 1-bedroom:
San Francisco, CA: $3,500
New York, NY: $3,000
Boston, MA: $2,950
Oakland, CA: $2,500
San Jose, CA: $2,450
Los Angeles, CA: $2,260
Washington, DC: $2,260
Seattle, WA: $1,890
San Diego, CA: $1,790
Miami, FL; $1,800
I know…everyone is not living in these areas. But a lot of people do. And the five at the top of this list is more than what someone even making $15 an hour would bring in for the month.
It would obviously not be in everyone’s best interest to rush out to these places on minimum wage; even upon being fortunate enough to get the full increase to $15. But that’s exactly the problem. There are cities within this country in which even making $15 an hour would not be enough for someone to be able to afford rent for a single bedroom. So sure, pay rent, but how about transportation to and from work? Are people not supposed to have children? Gas? Electricity? Food?
So how in the hell would raising minimum wage to where people still couldn’t afford to live in many major cities, cause people to become “lazy”?
There is this notion that more money will “change” people. What I truly believe it comes down to is that more money, in whatever fashion, makes people more of what they were before. If you were bad with money when you didn’t have it, you don’t magically learn how to manage money when you have more. You’re just worst at managing it. If you are careful with your money, getting more money won’t change that. You might spend a little more, but the mindset is still there to be more careful.
That is just an educated guess. But if someone wasn’t “lazy” before, getting more money won’t make them lazy. That just makes no sense. Other factors may come into play, but the notion that making barely over $30,000 per year will turn people “lazy” all of a sudden, is ridiculous. We’re not talking about winning the lottery here. Chances are, people might still need to get additional jobs.
I could go on and on. But the truth is that this is not about people trying to take advantage. They just should not have to work multiple jobs just to pay their bills. People are really thinking that folks are working all these jobs just because they want to. They often have no choice.
And seriously, I say again…if paying someone enough to live on will cripple either a business or the economy of one of the richest countries in the world, then the problem just might not rest with the people who want to be paid a living wage.
It might be time to start looking elsewhere. After all, if we feel more for the owner making a few hundred thousand per year and might lose a few crumbs than we do the person who has to beg for barely over $30,000, especially since that person will contribute to the success of that owner’s business and his or her pockets, then something is seriously wrong.