The Propaganda is Strong with This One: Minimum Wage
I was in my college's commuter lounge, waiting to attend the Creative Writing Departments annual senior reading, when overheard a conversation. Now, this conversation began with, "What do you think of president Obama," so I knew that the ignorance was about to explode quicker than a fertilizer plant in Texas, but I always like to hear what commoners think about politics, so I listened in. After the obligatory, "He's not perfect, but he's not terrible," statement that all supposed moderates (can we just take a moment to acknowledge that moderate is code word for ignorant?) make, they quickly transitioned to the issue of minimum wage, where they said "I hate that Obama is trying to raise minimum wage. It's just going to cause prices to rise and I'm going to have to spend all the extra money I get."
After my hyperventilation that ensued from the panic attack caused by this next level of ignorance, I said, you know what I need to do? I need to write a hub about this. That will solve everything. And now we're here.
At present, I am one of this country’s many minimum wage workers. Prior to this year, that meant that I made eight dollars an hour every time I went in to work at the Subway sandwich shop near my house (New York State has a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum, which is only $7.25). It was late last year when I had first heard the news that New York would be raising its minimum wage to $8.75 an hour, which I was glad to hear. Of course, that was before I learned that raising the minimum wage would cause New York to detach from the country, float off into the ocean, and disappear forever.
Well, I’m two paychecks into this new minimum wage, and nothing bad has happened yet. The Subway I work at is even still open somehow. Although, the new costs did mean Subway could no longer afford to make commercials with big name athletes like Robert Griffin III, Michael Phelps, Justin Tuck, Mike Trout, and so on…oh, no, that’s not right, they still show those commercials just like before. They did raise the costs of a few of the subs however. Funny how hiring celebrities for those commercials did not cause prices to rise, but paying an extra seventy-five cents to workers did…perhaps Subway only pays minimum wage to those athletes too.
But, I’ve rambled on long enough. What is the point? The point is that many people are confused about minimum wage. After last year’s state of the union where President Obama proposed raising minimum wage for federal workers to $10.10 an hour, my thoughts were that this was still too low, as, based on productivity and what minimum wage has historically been, it should be at least $15 by now (although there are more nuances than that). So I was shocked when I overheard a conversation between two people where they said Obama’s proposal to raise minimum wage was a bad idea because it would just cause the prices of things to rise. Huh? There are so many problems with this logic, it’s hard to even know where to begin. First of all, prices go up all the time, whether or not minimum wage goes up, so, it’s only right that minimum wage goes up from time to time, regardless. Second, is $7.25 some sort of magic, perfect number? What if minimum wage happened to be $6 right now? Or $8? Would you still say that it can’t be raised? Corollary to that, if raising minimum wage means prices go up, does lowering it mean prices go down? In that case, let’s bring back slavery. Then everything would be free according to this logic. This also raises the point that there’s an ethical and moral element connected to minimum wage, not just an economic one. Sure, the plantation owners were well off in slavery system, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. Third, it’s a shame that at a time when income inequality is as bad as it’s ever been in the country and around the world, these poor CEOs apparently can’t afford to pay living wages. I mean, Mr. Subway must have stayed up all night deciding whether he should raise prices of his subs or watch his family go hungry because he had to pay me an extra seventy-five cents. I might as well have just spit in his eye! Point is, before you blame the minimum wage worker for your burger being a couple extra cents, how about you take a look at the CEO? Or in Subway’s case, their celebrity endorsements as well (Seriously? You can pay Robert Griffin, but not me?).
What Should (Federal) Minimum Wage be?
Age of the Machine
Leon wakes up in a land about which he knows nothing. His only guide is a person about whom he knows even less. Quickly finding himself involved in the politics of this new universe, Leon's main concern remains simply getting home. However, things change, and Leon soon finds that returning home is anything but simple. If Leon is going to get back to his universe, he'll have to first discover the truth about this one. But he'll have to hurry: lies are in high supply, time is not.
Age of the Machine
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Someone asked me what I would do if "Mr. Subway" read this article.
I'd ask for a raise.
Okay, you say, but people are greedy, so even if prices don’t have to go up just because minimum wage does doesn’t mean that they won’t. The CEOs will just use any excuse that will let them raise prices. I have thought of this already, and the solution is simple. Excuse me if I haven’t worked out every nuance, but essentially, just link minimum wage to inflation. If fast food places, for example, want to raise prices, then minimum wage automatically goes up. And not the other way around either. These places won’t be able to just raise prices again after minimum wage goes up, because then that would cause minimum wage to increase again. Every time prices go up, so does minimum wage. Perhaps allow an exception for small businesses (although every small business I’ve worked for has paid me significantly more than minimum wage anyway, probably because these big business CEOs are so dirt poor on their yachts) and the problem is solved.
Seattle has $15 an hour minimum wage. If you want to attack income inequality, which should be America’s top concern right after getting money out of politics, then that’s the direction the country needs to head in. And for the record, Seattle also has not fallen off into the ocean. Minimum wage needs to go up, and it needs to go up now. Someone working full time at minimum wage right now would need to make at least $10.20 an hour to survive, according to many economists. Not only is raising the minimum wage good economic sense, it’s good morality.
Raise the Minimum Wage to $15/hr
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I am a writer. I have substantial experience in journalism, and my passion is for creative writing. When it comes to writing, I've dabbled in everything.
I am a reader, a hockey player, a part-time musician, and an English major/Political Science minor at Canisius College.