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A few random thoughts on $15 minimum wage


I recently went back forth in a discussion on Facebook–give me a break, I was bored, and we were civil–about wage inequality in America.

The topic was one that many people have discussed in recent months about the potential of providing fast-food workers wages in the $15 an hour vicinity.

I argued from the standpoint that it’s unrealistic to think that corporations were going to fork over gobs of cash to essentially unskilled workers to perform the task of reheating food.

I was met with a lot of backlash based on the fact that I was perceived as having indicated these unskilled workers were somehow mentally inferior and that wasn’t the intent, nor was it what I said.

My point was that corporations have spent mountains of cash making the jobs of fast-food and many other workers easier and easier. The level of skill required to operate a cash register now, in many cases, requires the ability to identify pictures (which can be super hard because those pictures are tiny). This allows an employer to hire an employee that can barely speak English.

The less you know, the easier you are to control.

The other part of my argument boiled down to the simple fact that no one held a gun to the head of any of these employees or made them agree to their present wage or made them stay.

Now, to play devil’s advocate, I also can empathize with the workers plight. I can ask, “How is it fair that someone sits in an office raking in several million dollars a year in base salary when their employees require food stamps?”

It cost American tax payers nearly $1 billion to provide benefits to corporations that employ low-wage employees each year. I’m not making this figure up; it came from the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration website.

Again, people don’t have to stay in these jobs, but I don’t feel like paying corporations to employ those that are unable to or are incapable of finding other employment.

The website starts by indicating that this program helps veterans and individuals from “other groups with significant barriers to employment.”

What does that mean?

This is a list from the same website that spells out some of the “others”:

  • TANF Recipients
  • SNAP (Food Stamp) Recipients
  • Designated Community Residents (living in Empowerment Zones or Rural Renewal Counties)
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Referral
  • Ex-felons
  • Supplemental Security Income Recipients
  • Summer Youth Employee (living in Empowerment Zones)

According to the book Fast Food Nation, “Through federal programs such as the Targeted Jobs Tax Credit and its successor, the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, the chains have for years claimed tax credits of up to $2,400 for each new low-income worker they hired.”

They can then fire the employee they’ve invested “training,” or they can hire a new employee and the bringing in more money.

With all this in mind, why would they want to raise the minimum wage and risk losing this credit?

They wouldn’t! Except maybe in Denmark?

According to the blog above, the unions ensure workers are paid wages based on their age (yes, it includes McDonald’s).

Don’t be shy. If you disagree say something. Feel free to comment in the section below. I’ll try to get back to you as quickly as I can.

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About Todd Fuller

After a really long search, I found work that I feel is more relevant to my degree--technical writing. While it's not what I initially envisioned doing, it's actually been very enjoyable and rewarding work. I guess I feel like there is still more out there to do, so I've decided I will try the whole blogging thing again and resurrect this site. If anyone's still out there, enjoy and feel free to comment.

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