Minimum wage

There are protests in downtown Seattle today, where people are demanding an increase in the minimum wage to $15/hour. I believe there are other protests across the country.

I’m a Liberal, and I think people should earn enough money to live on. OTOH, is $15/hour too much?

The minimum wage in the State of Washington is $9.19/hour. That’s pretty good. I think I could get by on $10/hour full-time. But I don’t live in Seattle.

There are some people who say that minimum wage jobs are not meant to allow people to live. They’re for teenagers, who can live at home; or for students, who are busy going to school and don’t need a career. In fact, only 16% of fast-food jobs go to teenagers. There are people who ‘did the right thing’ and went to school and entered into a well-paying career, only to have the rug pulled out from under them. (I can imagine someone telling these people, ‘Well, you should have known 30 years ago that real estate was going to crash or that programming would be done remotely in other countries! You eediot!’) These people do need a living wage – not only for themselves, but for their families.

I would like to see the minimum wage (at least in this state) to go to $10/hour. Fifteen dollars per hour? That seems a little generous. Rent is high in Seattle, but Seattle has a good public transportation system. My mortgage is less than half of what my apartment in L.A. is renting for today, but I have a long drive to the office and fuel is expensive. Fortunately, I’m allowed to telecommute three days out of five and my car gets 46-47 mpg. My situation is not typical (and I’m very grateful for it!). Ten dollars an hour might not let someone guy Desirable Consumer Items, but I think it’s enough to live on until a better job can be found. Of course, I think that every job should provide health coverage; or better yet, there should be a single-payer system. (A single-payer system would allow better job mobility, which would be good for the economy.)

The other thing the protesters want is the ability to form unions. I think people have a right to organise. As I said, I think $15/hour is a little generous. A union might push (too hard) for that wage, which might not be a good thing. (More money in people’s pockets though, would be spent. That’s a good thing.) I have never worked in fast-food, but I’ve heard here and other places of how people who do are ill-used by their employers. I think a union would help to reduce these abuses.

Wage increases would cause inflation. If a McDonald’s worker is making $15, the price for a happy meal would increase.

Funny thing is that people already making 15$+/hour will have the same wage.

Inflation is not a good thing! The economy won’t be able to handle it right now.

We are given a front-row ticket to the freak show, and all we can do is watch.

Consider: If the high school dropouts at McDonalds start making $15/hr, then my $20/hr job is going to start to look pretty crappy. Most of my coworkers will feel the same way, and we’ll demand raises. Since most of us have fairly unique skills that are not easily replaced, the company will have to give it to us. Of course, the price of our services will go up to compensate, so all of our customers will raise their prices (of course, most of them will be facing the same griping from their own employees as well). Eventually, all of these costs will be passed down to the consumer, the cost of living will rise drastically, and the guys at McDonalds will be back to the same lifestyle they had when they were making $7.25/hr.

That’s how inflation works.

Only 16% of fast-food workers are teenagers.

False. Prices are determined by the what the market will pay, not by what it costs to produce. Production costs only determine whether the product is profitable and worth selling at all. Increasing production costs does not automatically lead to price increases. If a hamburger costs $1 to make, and I sell 1000 of them for $2, I make $1000. If my production cost goes up to 1.25, I cannot just raise prices .25 cents and expect to stil make the same profit on 1000 hamburgers, because fewer people will buy my hamburgers at the higher price. I can either settle for a smaller profit, or decide not to sell hamburgers any more. Prices are not endlessly elastic.

That’s not the point. People get college educations and develop marketable skills because they want to live better than the uneducated schulbs who are forced to take minimum wage jobs.

When the mimumum wage rises, you inevitably have a bunch of people who suddenly find themselves at, or uncomfortably close to, minimum wage. That is not the life they signed on for, so they either get raises, or move to another job that pays better. It’s a time-worn cycle.

I figured it out when I was working on my programming degree. I’d expect anyone as smart as me to understand the same concept.
My impression was that machines would replace us, I didn’t realize we’d be outbid by overseas workers. Same difference, I knew it wasn’t always going to be a paying job.

Ah, but there’s a catch to that. When mimimum wage increases, you know that people have more money to spend. It’s written into federal law that they do! McDonalds and every other company in the US knows full well that their customers are going to have that extra quarter to spend on a hamburger, so they adjust their prices accordingly.

You should learn who makes your food. A surprising number of restaurant workers are college educated, many have degrees in useful fields.

What you’re forgetting is that many minimum-wage workers do have college educations who are forced to take those jobs because there’s nothing else available.

EDIT: Or what aNewLeaf said.


Yeah, I dealt with a few companies who had meta-programming software “almost perfected.” Did ANYTHING every come of it, at all?

If they raise the minimum rate 50% to 100% to $15 per hour, then the jobs currently paying $15 will be forced to pay $22 to $30 per hour. The jobs paying $22 will increase to $33 or $44, etc, etc, etc.

The cost of products produced and services rendered by workers being paid 50% to 100% more will also increase. Everything will cost more. The end result being that people making the new $15 minimum will be financially back in the same position they were before. They’ll need a new $30 minimum wage and the whole cycle starts over.

And businesses that hire workers won’t be hiring workers until the new pay scales and product costs are finally settled.

Maybe all minimum wage jobs should be “government” jobs. Businesses could then ask their government reps to supply them with X number of “G-workers” by the day, week, or month. The taxpayers could foot the bill for supplying former minimum wage earners with a floating government script and “free” benefits? :rofl:

I think there should be a minimum wage, around 9 or 10 bucks. I have no objection to fast food workers trying to negotiate higher wages, either on their own or through collective bargaining. I’d be happy if they were making $15 an hour, and I wouldn’t care if the price went up a bit.

No, they won’t.

I guess those “degrees in useful fields” aren’t that useful.

Ah, I see… ‘Well, you should have known 30 years ago that real estate was going to crash or that programming would be done remotely in other countries! You eediot!’

Humans have this thing going on where they think it’s not fair if bad guys get good things. We think that those who work hard and do good things deserve more than those who don’t work as hard. This too easily follows into the mindset that the lower-class workers must have done something “bad” to be there, such as not working hard enough, not planning well enough, or being too indulgent. So the middle-class always feel their work is being invalidated when the lower-class manages to scrape a little closer to them. I’m not sure we can ever switch to a mindset where we are happy that everyone is living good lives, because someone always thinks they work harder than someone else and therefore deserve more.

In the recent economic climate we’ve had to re-evaluate what being lower-class means, because it’s becoming obvious that not everyone is lower-class because they personally screwed up.

The point Johnny L.A. is making is that only 16% of fast food workers are those who can afford to work for minimum wage. What about the other 84%? It’s obvious that there are not enough jobs for those who want them in the current economic climate. Those 84% didn’t necessarily do anything “bad” to end up where they are. There may be no job that they can move up to for a long time despite having the work ethic and qualifications for a better job. Do these otherwise “good” people deserve to be ground down at the bottom?

Considering that we’ve established that otherwise well-paid people will clamor for more money just because they see the bottom rising up a little closer, I’d say that we don’t need to have the low-end jobs be such COMPLETE shit in order to spur upward mobility. Why do these jobs have to be THAT bad and pay THAT little? All a person has to see is someone making $1 more and they’ll want to move up. The biggest problem is convincing the middle-class that letting the lower-class live a little better while they stay put is a good thing for everyone. Which goes back to our ingrained mindset…perhaps an impossible thing to convince people of.

Sorry, as much as I support (generall) higher minimum wages, demanding a $15/hr minimum wage is a bit silly.

You’d almost think these people were in a 70’s/80’s era Union or something. “We don’t care if our wage demands destroy our entire industry and leave us unemployed! We will not back down!”

They already do have the right to organize. They haven’t organized historically for a variety of reasons - the high rate of turnover and high percentage of employees who don’t see themselves as primary breadwinners but rather as working for extra money (students, current and former SAHMs, retirees etc. ) are probably the biggest factors. Those factors may have changed, but a union will still have to convince a high enough percentage of workers at a particular location of the value of joining that union. And that’s not necessarily going to be an easy thing to do.

Adjusting for inflation, a $15 minimum wage today would be $2.23 in 1968, not that much higher than the actual minimum.

People argue that, in theory, a minimum wage hike is inflationary and costs jobs. It is also true that, in theory, communism is a rational economic system. In both cases, real life is nothing like theory, and in places that increased the minimum wage, the effects the theorists warn about do not happen.

In real life, the effects of minimum wage hikes are nothing as predicted by the naysayers, who are not interested in what happens in real life as long as their theory remains consistent. Like communists, they try to put the round pegs of reality into the square holes of their theory.