Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Wage Wars

As seen in the January 24, 2006 Record Herald

The article to which I am refering to in this column can be found
  • Here

  • In the Friday, January 20, paper, syndicated columnist Holly Sklar wrote, "We need wage ethics today." She wrote of the "need" to raise the minimum wage in America.

    Brace yourself for my opinion, most of you won't agree with it; but please stay with me and let me explain. My opinion is that we should not have a minimum wage. If you want to work for $1.00 an hour, that's up to you.

    Let's say that, today, there is no minimum wage. Can you live on $1.00 an hour? That's grossing $40.00 a week, after taxes, about $29.00 a week. I spend more than that on gas. I know I won't work for $1.00 an hour, so I won't take the job. If you won't take it either (and perhaps no one will) guess what? Whoever is hiring at $1.00 an hour is going to have to up their rate. The employer will have to raise their rate and perhaps their prices to compensate, but eventually they will be paying an acceptable wage and selling at acceptable prices. That's how the economy works. Costs go up, prices go up.I used to work for minimum wage. I did that for about 1 month, then I received a (small) raise.

    I continued to work there about 4 months total. That wasn't cutting it so I got a new job. It was second shift and a farther drive, but the pay was worth it so I made the switch. Will I ever work for minimum wage again? No. I can't pay the bills on it, so I won't do it. I'm betting you wouldn't take a job that didn't pay you enough to pay your bills either.

    Sklar does not mention that most people don't work for minimum wage for long, either.

    Now let me tackle her math.

    She states; "A low minimum wage is a green light for greed. Between 1968 and 2004, domestic corporate profits rose 85% while the minimum wage fell 41% and the average hourly wage fell 4%, adjusted for inflation. In the retail sector, which employs large numbers of workers at or near minimum wage, profits skyrocketed 159%."

    The only way for profits to be up is for people to be spending money. Minimum wage may have stayed low or dropped compared to inflation; however, wages must have gone up somewhere or no one would have had the money to spend which increased profits. Low minimum wage is not a "green light for greed," it is a speed limit. If you want to work for $1.00 an hour, that's great for the company that hired you! They are going to do well because you are willing to work for $1.00 an hour.

    Sklar does not mention that most of those working for minimum wage are teens who don't need the money, but want it. If the minimum wage is forced up, the cost of business goes up, which raises cost for consumers. You then make more, but you spend more, so not a lot has happened by raising the minimum wage.


    Anonymous N.S. said...

    think you just want a response from this "shaky" at best stance on minimum wage. I do agree that minimum wage should be considered more of a "speed limit" for controlling prices, inflation, and other economic factors, however, the argument of raising the minimum wage is not for the teenagers who "want" to earn more money, it is for those who "must" make more money to raise their families and pay their bills. You may say that you would never take a job that pays minimum wage because it is not enough to pay your bills, case and point, minimum wage is not a "living wage". The average American worker does not have skills required to obtain a job that could justify paying over the minimum wage to support their family. According to Sklar, people do not work at minimum wage paying jobs for long, that is because they cannot afford to. The working class must depend on their national government to ensure that working a 40 hour work week is enough to, at the very least, pay your bills. With no minimum wage, people may not want to work for $1.00 and hour, and you may not work for $1.00 an hour, but for those with no choice, will have to work for $1.00 an hour and all of this so you can spend five dollars less at your next trip to Wal Mart.

    4:41 AM  
    Blogger Logan VanLandingham said...

    We are never guaranteed 40 hours a week. If you have a job that does not pay enough to live on, you have to get another job, in addition to the first. No one ever said that life was easy, or fair for that matter. I have never seen an instance where someone has to work for minimum wage. There is always work, usually crappy jobs that no one wants so they take government aid and work a low paying job. Right now I could go build houses with an old friend. It pays better than I'm making now, but I don't want to do it. If I had to have the money to support my family, I would take the job.

    I do not rely on the government to ensure a 40 hour week will pay my bills. My family is my responsibility, not the government's. If my wage cannot support me and my family, I need a second job, or a better paying one.

    Trash collectors usually make good money, but most people never know it because we'd never think of taking that job, so we'd never research it. People who drive heavy machinery in landfills often make more than I do, and that's because it is not a pleasant job. They can't pay someone $6 an hour to do that kind of work. No one would stay around in that environment for $6 an hour if they can flip burgers at McDonald's for that, so the landfills have to pay more.

    9 times out of 10, if not more, the work is there for the taking, you must be willing to make money to keep alive on your own. Government programs enforce many people to remain dependant. If you are having your rent paid by the government, why would you want to go get another job and have to pay it yourself?

    Many people have the mentality that it is up to someone else to show them the way, and that working for minimum wage is the only way. Better paying jobs are usually out there. You have to be willing, and courageous enough to take them, or change your lifestyle to fit your budget, (something most people are not willing to do) and not let your pride in the way, if you in fact want the better paying job.

    4:41 AM  

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