Night Of The Living Wage
I have a problem with talking about what people are worth. It’s a difficult subject and one that can cause hard feelings and accusations of class warfare. The worst of all is being called an apologist for “The Rich.” – As an aside, when did it become fashionable to attack successful and wealthy people who aren’t athletes or performers?
I’m really conflicted by this issue because I know of a lot of people who work in restaurants and they really do a good job and they keep me coming back for more. The best example I can think of is a small restaurant here in my town. I want the people who work in this diner – especially the chefs – to make enough money for my own selfish reasons. I want them to be happy enough to work there forever and never want to find greener pastures so they can keep making amazing eggs benedict for me whenever I arrive. Folks who work in only my favorite restaurants should be making enough money so they’ll never want to stop doing what they love because of my own enjoyment. I’ll admit it.
I will also concede that there are depressed parts of the country where there aren’t a lot of jobs that pay very well, I’ll tackle that later in this rant.
Recently there has been a call to raise the minimum wage for everyone. Not to raise people’s level of education or the quality of their work – but to simply pay people the same for what they’re already doing. I’m not sure I understand this.There’s one group of people who I think are just fine right where they are – those people who made a joke out of education and didn’t take it seriously when they had the chance. Just as our teachers said in school, there are consequences to you actions; or in this case – inactions.
I find it atrocious that there are some people who are caring the banner the minimum wage to be raised to a “living wage.” You want people who didn’t work hard and go to college like I did to be paid the same amount of money as some of us who sacrificed and went without and did go to college? I hope I don’t sound too resentful, but during my teen years I worked and studied hard. Instead of getting laid, drunk and stoned during my off hours studying. I wrote, I drew, I read, and I went without so I could get the tools to further my education or paid to take night courses.
Why should we pay people a “living wage” to those people who brushed off school and made a joke of it and didn’t learn a trade or a skill? Those people who made bad choices, disrespected their opportunities for an education, and didn’t do what I did to get ahead actually deserve what they are getting now. That is the consequence we were warned about; if you don’t do well in school that’s what’s going to happen to you. If you made fun of the people who work hard in school and you thought it was funny when you earned D’s and F’s then I can make a case that you’re getting what you deserved. You were warned that this could happen and you should have listened.
People say to me, “Yea, but what about those people who learned their lessons and want another shot at it?” College and universities want to help those kinds of people find grants, scholarships and loans and have special programs to help those kinds of people succeed. Those kinds of people have tasted how horrible life is without an education and always do well, like me.
Then there are people who retort by asking “what about those people who are homeless or have difficult situations at home?” Well, I was homeless and I managed to get myself out of the whole I was in, and I also have one of the hardest of hard luck stories about growing up. I wasn’t alone, I was sitting in a class room where this topic was brought up and the room was full of adult students who had similar or even hard luck stories that are actually worse than mine. The notion that your situation is so bad that you can’t get out of is – in a word – bullshit. If I can do it, so can you. If other people with even harder situations can do it, so can you.
There’s something to be said about having grit; when I read statistics about people in their 30’s working minimum wage jobs at fast food restaurants I can’t help but wonder if these people ever stop and ask themselves isn’t there a better way? Where is their “fire in the belly?” Where is their “eye of the tiger” and their willingness to fight to get out that situation and work to get out of it?
I hate talking about a problem without offering some kind of a solution, but this time before I can offer an answer let me present this other problem – it’s hard to start your own business in this environment of rules, regulations, punitive taxes and fees. We talk about the economy and how it needs to improve but everything something bad happens our government imposes new laws as a knee-jerk reaction. Why not make it easier for small businesses to start and grow? Instead of demanding a rise in the minimum wage, shouldn’t there be more incentives for businesses to actually grow a smarter workforce and combine forces with local colleges to help improve the lives of the people who work for a living. Smarter employees will eventually lead to more productive employees and innovations that will eventually change the world and foster new fields of industry. Programs like that might actually be more efficient and cost effective than artificially raising the minimum wage. Or are we just going to leave the situation the way it is because it’s too hard change the system? What’s your answer?