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The Minimum Wage Debate in America
Over 16 million Americans earn less than $10 an hour. These people earn the barest of the minimum wage, that is, $8 or $9 an hr. They do work in low end industries that serve those earning so much more-the doctor, the engineer, the bus driver, the nurse, low end managers in retail, CEO's. The people earning this low wage are students or less educated. Many are retired also trying to make ends meet in their "golden years" because during their work years, they failed to invest or plan adequately. They are no all undocumented people working in fast food or the clothing industry.
When you go into Macy's Nordstroms or other high-end fashion retailers, the person assisting you probably makes not more than $10 hr. Most of these retailers pay only $9 hr, yet, sell a pair of jeans for $150, almost two days pay for the work. The cost of jeans probably cost the retailer only $50. When adjusted for inflation, a $10 hr. job today is equivalent to what someone earned in 1968! The hourly rate than was around not more than $2 hr.
The small retailers scream they cannot afford to pay higher wages and would force them out of business. Any retailer will simply raise their prices a little to compensate, just as trucking firms do with fuel costs, when diesel rises higher. The same scream is heard from the retail chains that make billions yearly, pay their CEO, millions, and their managers 50-75K, while those at the bottom barely survive on less than $10 hr.
Even raising the minimum rate to $10 is a joke. Some urban areas have done this, which is much higher than the Federal Min. Wage. Yet, the cost to live in these cities offsets any wage gain. The cities have done this out of shame and having a guilty conscience. Those at the higher end of employment, at one time in their lives, know what it is like to work for such low wages and why those who do need government aid in food stamps or Section 8 subsidized housing, yet, because they have lived the wealthy life for so long, they have grown callous about it, thinking, "Yeah, earning ten bucks an hour sucks, but I did it, and I earn what I get now". These people may give a few bucks to a street musician but if it comes to making a little less in order to allow those at the bottom earn a little more, their attitudes change. They become greedy and refuse to take a minor cut in pay.
What would be a decent minimum wage? Maybe $12 hr. But, the current $8 hr. Federal Min. Wage is just morally wrong in 2014, when just renting a room can cost $500-700, in many large urban areas. If employers do pay more, they will retain their employees longer. This is the #1 reason for job turnover, even at the high wage earner level. But, it is vastly more important at the low end.