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Put Up or Shut Up – Minimum Wage

So, the social justice cause of the month appears to be another round of “people deserve a raise”.  Basically, it’s been deemed to be unfair that people are having to work part-time at the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.  Government statistics from 2013 indicate that a huge percentage of minimum-wage earners are young (under 25), and that you are much more likely to work minimum wage if you have not graduated high school.  Minimum wage jobs are overwhelmingly in the “hospitality” or “service” industries, meaning mostly restaurant work and menial labor.

In other words, if you are low-skilled and just starting out in the job force, you’re more than likely to be making minimum wage, at least for a while.  I did it when I was a teenager.  Of course, I only made minimum wage for about six months before I got a raise, but that’s probably white privilege at work right there.  Yep, all the white privilege at work in North Dakota got me that extra $.25 an hour in 1986.  Just another example of the Scandihoovian Mafia looking out for one of its own.

Yesterday, several highly publicized protests occurred, in which the organizers were demanding higher wages for fast-food workers.  I’m guessing that the job market for fry cooks, dishwashers, and order-takers is about what it was when I was a teenager, and fast-food restaurants such as McDonald’s and Burger King have a high concentration of minimum-wage earners.  In some places, they were demanding $15.00 an hour for the workers, which is more than double current rates.

Of course, in a lot of places, the state or local minimum wage is over the federal minimum, with Seattle recently raising it to the vaunted amount of $15.00.  To be honest, I prefer that state and local government figure out what they want their minimum wage to be and set it accordingly to the federal government setting a nation-wide floor on wages.  If I were king, and you can all enjoy that shudder of fear that I just induced in you, there would be no federal minimum wage in the states.  Let Alabama, California, and Vermont figure out what workers should get, and let the federal government worry about the District of Columbia, the territories, and military reservations.

Depressing the income of minimum-wage earners is the current practice of severely curtailing hours for part-time employees in order to evade medical benefits mandated by the Affordable Care Act.  If you were working 35 hours a week at $7.25 an hour and trying to either live or raise a family on that, and your boss cuts you back to 25 hours a week, then you’re going to feel the pinch.  The answer, according to the President Emeritus and his supporters, is to force employers to pay more.  So, employers are damned if they do, or damned if they don’t when it comes to employee hours.  They can either pay more per hour or give more hours and then pay for insurance.

Is it any wonder that employers are saying that if they are forced into this, they will be firing people in order to afford it?  Unemployment benefits are cheaper in just about any way you look at it.

Here’s where I say put up or shut up on minimum wage:  If you are currently working for the minimum wage, either the federal $7.25 an hour or a higher local minimum, leave your job until the hourly rate is raised to what you consider a more equitable rate.  Seriously, quit your job and picket.  Have at it.  I’m sure that they won’t be able to find someone to fluff pillows or brown pre-cooked french fries while you’re out there.

But stop with the whining, OK?  If you’re trying to raise kids, and you’re looking at working minimum wage as a permanent solution, then shame on you.  If  you were born here, and the best you can hope for in life is to flip burgers for $7.25 an hour, then it’s on you.  No matter how shitty your neighborhood or upbringing was, I bet I can find someone from the same background who took advantage of public education, got off their ass, and is making at least double that, even assuming they didn’t go to college or trade school.  Shut your piehole and get to work.  If you show up on time, don’t steal from your employer in money, supplies, or time spent goofing off on the clock, and keep your nose clean for a few months, you’ll be surprised what opportunities await you.

If you live in a place where flipping burgers or picking up cigarette butts is the best job available, no matter how smart and motivated you are, the word you should have in your mind is “relocation”.  Yeah, it sucks to leave the plot of dirt that your daddy, and his daddy, and his daddy before him lived just above the starvation line, but if nostalgia is what’s keeping you in poverty, then it’s your own fault.  I’d say “Go West, Young Man!”, but I wouldn’t tell my worst enemy to go to California.  Texas is nice in the springtime, and there is a lot of austere beauty in North Dakota snowfields.  I hear that both are good places to find a job if you’re willing to actually work.

Of course, if you got a degree in underwater basket weaving, women’s studies, use of the semi-colon in early Elizabethan bathroom graffiti, or any other similarly useless degree and the best you can do is cleaning toilets, well, you’ve proven that education doesn’t fix stupid.  Want to get paid for your knowledge?  Well,then, maybe you should get a degree that comes with a skill others will pay for.

If you’re bitching about not getting as many hours as you used to on minimum wage, you can thank Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi for that.  They’re the ones that gave employers the choice of either going out of business, firing people, or lowering their employees hours, not me.  You elected them, you reelected them, and now you can suck on the exhaust pipe of the bus they threw you under.

But, DB, you say, it’s not fair that the franchise owner of a McDonald’s makes so much more than his employees!  And it’s horrendously unfair that the CEO of McDonald’s makes millions while his employees make slave wages and have to go on food stamps to feed their children!  Multi-billion dollar corporations can spend some of their profits on their people!

You’re right, those with more training, education, experience, drive, and intelligence tend to make more money in our society.  Is it fair?  I don’t know, but I do know that nowhere on the contract for life did it say that it would be fair.  You want to make $5 million a year as the CEO of a multi-national?  OK, then put in years of hard work, get your ignorant ass a useful education, and earn that $5 million a year.

Oh, and by the way, companies do not work for their employees.  That seems to be a common misconception these days.  They work for their owners, usually their stockholders.  Their job is to make money for those people so that those people will continue to invest money in the company, after which the company can either employ more people or find new ways to make more money of the same number of people’s work.  Don’t like it?  OK, then start your own company, and if you do, I truly wish you luck. Entrepreneurs are one of the few ways to truly create wealth in this country.

My point is that the company doesn’t exist as a jobs program.  It’s there to make as much profit as possible and then distribute it to its owners, not to its employees.  To paraphrase Jack Welch, once you cash the paycheck, you are square with your employer.  It doesn’t matter how much you made them, because they’ve paid you the amount you agreed to when you hired on.  If you don’t like it, then please remember that indentured servitude and slavery was abolished over a century and a half ago, so you’re free to find employment elsewhere.

And as for people having to go on welfare while working at minimum wage in order to feed their kids, well, I think this is a tragedy.  But it’s not a national shame that you can work part-time at a wage that was designed for low-skill workers and not be able to feed your family.  It’s a shame that parents continue to look at part-time, low-skill, minimum-wage jobs as a permanent solution and doom their children to living off the largesse of the state.  Seriously, what did people in low-skill, low-wage jobs do before food stamps and WIC?  Oh, that’s right, they got off their asses, worked two and three jobs, fed their kids, and looked for a better job.  Maybe y’all should try that?  Oh, and while you’re at it, quit having babies until you can afford to feed them without taking food out of the mouths of my children, OK?

Now, none of this pertains to someone who is temporarily down on their luck.  If you’ve lost your job or are just out of school and are looking for work, and you use part-time, minimum-wage employment as a crutch until something better comes along, then you’re not part of the problem.  Trust me, I’ve been there, and I understand.  It’s the people who use a McJob as their life-long employment plan, then expect the rest of us to either support their children for them or pay $8 for a dollar’s worth of meat, cheese, and bread who catch in my craw.

So, in closing, to my low-skilled, low-wage brethren: put up or shut up.  Refuse to work for what you consider slave wages, and eventually the evil businessmen will raise their offer a bit. If you’re not ready to do that, shut up.  And while you’re at it, fries are up and the bathroom needs mopping.

1 Comment

  1. My only question is where are the protesters for the poor military folks? THEY don’t make $15 and hour until the make sergeant! Who’s protesting for them to be included???

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