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Brütal Ke$ha

Your thoughts on minimum wage?

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There's been so many people talking about it since Seattle raised their minimum wage. So I figured I'd start a thread about it.

IMO the government isn't morally obligated to enforce a 'livable wage' for everyone. Particularly for people who are dependent on someone else already, students, etc. I also think a 40 hour workweek shouldn't be a maximum for hourly workers. But besides that I think the structure is a bigger problem.

I think a big part of the problem is that minimum wage jobs are relatively prevalent and most people that work for minimum wage are really young, stupid, unreliable or just don't have work experience for some reason. I think if the federal government were to keep the minimum wage where it is (if not lower it) and set laws that require employers to offer raises incrementally for a period of time worked it would be better for both parties because as an employee earns a higher wage they're less likely to leave the company and thus the companies have more assurance that the employee will stay and invest more time into teaching the employee skills.

The franchise model is built on unskilled labor at a cheap price, they expect a ton of turnover and there's really not that much of a reward for staying at the same franchise for a long time. Most fast food places require some sort of college degree to even manage a franchise, a step below that (the highest position attainable without higher education) makes only marginally more than minimum wage no matter how long the employee stays there.

I just don't see raising the minimum wage as an effective way of changing the way that companies view their employees. With a higher minimum wage they'll have to get more work/productivity out of their workers but there won't be any more incentive for the employees to stay for a longer time or work harder than they would with a lower minimum wage.

I'm just basing this off of my own experience working minimum wage jobs and the attitudes that I observed from workers/management/owners. Anyways what does everyone else think? I know that was probably tl;dr for a lot of people.

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Based on my own knowledge and experience, I am personally for raising it.

The minimum wage is not in place to assure any level of productivity/value out of an employee, and it really doesn't matter what age the worker happens to be. (We shouldn't age discriminate---work is work. If anything, just limit younger people to fewer hours if necessary.) The minimum wage is in place for mostly two reasons:

1) It keeps businesses from paying unfairly low for labor that is worth more. Just like packaged goods, your labor is a thing that is for sale. It is on a market. And just like any market, things in that market have a standard price companies compete around. (And like any market, if people aren't careful, those prices can "race to the bottom", and then we're in a clusterf*ck.) A company can offer to buy your labor (i.e. give you a paycheck) at a slightly higher price to attract more/better workers and potentially give themselves a better pool of workers to choose from. This is also a good strategy for a company that does not have access to a very big portion of the labor market or that does not receive a lot of applications. They could offer to buy the labor at a better price, and then perhaps more people would come to sell. However, you have some companies like Wal-Mart and Kroger that are enormous and have such absolute access to every labor market everywhere that they don't really have to worry about whether or not enough people will apply/offer them labor. SOMEONE always will. They are very aware of this, which allows them to purchase labor at the lowest price they are legally allowed to pay. And that's pretty much exactly what they do, because $$KA-CHING$$.

2) It keeps workers from selling their labor at too low a price. As an average person and not the CEO of a mega-corporation, it's difficult for you to know what labor is actually worth. In a world without minimum wage, you'd likely find yourself in a position where you were haggling with Wal-Mart over how much your labor is worth. You would, of course, be arguing from the position of all the bills you have to pay and how hard you would be working and how you need to be able to purchase food and clothing to live. Wal-Mart would be arguing from the position of "Well, if you won't work for $2/hr, I have access to other people who will", so they'd either talk you down to $2/hr or just turn you down. Selling your labor that low would also affect the labor market. Much like the "race to the bottom" made every game in the iOS app store either $1.99 or free, the exact same thing could happen to hourly wages in a world where people had to sell it themselves and set their own prices.

So to keep the labor market stable, we have a minimum wage. Workers cannot sell their labor for less than X, and companies cannot purchase labor for less than X.

There is of course the third reason that the minimum wage KINDA SORTA exists, but not as much as people think:

3) To make sure employees have a good standard of living. This is ideally what we want. We'd want to compare the annual salary of a person working minimum wage to an estimate of the annual salary a person would need to be able to live in the area where they live. But, not surprisingly, the minimum wage absolutely does NOT take this into account. It's more expensive to live in some places in America than others. If you're making the federal minimum wage in New York or California, your life BLOWS. That sh*t is not sustainable. But if you're making the federal minimum wage in Ohio or Tennessee, then your life is not great, but it is MUCH BETTER than the person making your same wage in New York/California. Much better.

cost-of-rent.jpg

So already you can see one problem with arguing about minimum wage. Depending on where you live in the U.S. your perception of the value of the minimum wage can be drastically different.

This also raises a problem. If you raise the minimum wage to an amount that guarantees minimum wage workers in NY/CA are making enough to afford the cost of living, then people in OH/TN are comparatively being paid "too much". But if you raise it so that just the people in OH/TN can afford the cost of living, then you've still hung the workers in NY/CA out to dry. Having one standard wage apply across the board is difficult, because markets vary so widely.

Adjusting the minimum wage on a state-by-state basis is one possible option, but it would probably lead to a bunch of other issues.

But the minimum wage, in my opinion, is not the biggest problem. It definitely IS too low, but the bigger problem is that companies are finding ways to pay employees less than the minimum wage anyway, and THAT needs to be solved.

The Satan-owned companies like Wal-Mart and Kroger are of course the absolute worst and are the biggest contributors to the fact that this even exists, but here's what they do.

They are required by law to pay you X dollars an hour, and they are required by law to give their full-time employees X hours off (i.e. pay them for a certain number of unworked hours) and X amount of employee benefits, which costs them X per employee per year.

So instead of paying for all of that, they hire a bunch of employees and pay them the mandatory X dollars an hour, but they refuse to let any of those employees work more than 34 hours a week, thereby milking as much labor as possible out of an employee while keeping them ONE HOUR away from the legal definition of a full-time employee, which means they don't have to give that employee vacation or benefits. Why would they hire a bunch of people full time and pay for all that non-labor and doctor's bills and crap, when you can just fill your entire roster with people who are only working 20 to 30 hours a week and don't have a bunch of extra expenses attached to them?

And what THAT leads to is a nation of people who are not only making merely minimum wage and therefore barely affording the cost of living (or not AT ALL affording the cost of living, depending on where they live), but they also have to work 2 or 3 different jobs, they get no sleep, they get no time to themselves, they get no vacation, they have no benefits.

In my opinion, that kind of Wal-Mart bullsh*t is the real problem. Labor/wage laws in Europe are like heaven compared to the U.S. As a country, we earn a LOT of money (let's ignore our colossal debt for a moment), and yet our labor laws and worker's rights compared to elsewhere in the developed western world seem... frankly kind of sh*tty.

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Liveable minimum wage would increase prices and cost of living. See the problem? Too much of the North American economy is run off of it. Let's look at our fast food industry.

If all of a sudden they had to pay a liveable wage, prices would increase, customers would decrease and restaurants would close down. You would then have fewer workers required to do more work. Whatever your feelings are about fast food, you would be looking at an economy with far fewer jobs and a massive lack in entry level jobs for students.

That is just an example of how one industry would be affected. Minimum wage should be half of what the comfortable amount to live on is. That's my opinion. A couple could afford to live quite easily and if you're alone, it isn't hard to find a room mate if you need one. If you want to live alone or enjoy the luxuries of life, then work your way up the ladder or get a better paying job.

Minimum wage is already in a state by state bases isn't it? I'm pretty sure it is. It is up here.

Edit: Yep. I'm right. For the above example, that's why New York is increasing minimum wage to $9 an hour and Tennessee doesn't even have one. I'm not saying that's enough or anything...

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I don't care about minimum wage in a system that is inherently designed to ensure those on the bottom stay on the bottom unless the will of those at the top lets some of those at the bottom come to the top. People that are focused on increasing the minimum wage are like serfs that begged their owners to give them more food. It's good for the short term, but makes no real difference to the system itself in the long term. Regardless of what occurs, so long as those in power have no mechanism of loosing power (too big to fail, anyone?) we don't live in a capitalist society, but a global feudalism oligarchy. Sure, we may have the illusion of democracy, nation states, and capitalism. But at the end of the day, our elections are decided by those who sponsor the puppets in government (both in North America and most of the countries outside of it), we're all ruled by a single "western" neo-capitalist/imperialist globalized economy system, and our houses are owned through debt to a bank that will steal "our" houses back from us the moment they have a risk of going under.

Perhaps if we really were living in an actually capitalist society, minimum wage would matter a lot more to me. But until that time comes and the wealthiest of us are able to rise and fall as easily/difficultly as we can in this system, I don't spend my time worrying about it when there are larger issues like getting money out of politics (for me currently in Canada and the USA due to my dual citizenship to them) that currently demand my attention.

Before you say I'm a communist/socialist/marxist/whatever other political ideology that I don't subscribe to, simply watch this so you can see things in perspective and understand just how unequal the average person is compared to any billionaire on Earth:

Edit: for those wondering what my ideal long term solution would be, I have none that I am certain would work besides getting money out of politics as a whole before we have any discussion about fair income. However, a maximum wage would be one potential solution I like, so long as it would be implemented the world over to protect against off-shore funds. In US for example, if you were a CEO making more than, say, 400,000 a year (the same salary a president receives, so unless you can think of a job theoretically more stressful than running an entire country, this seems like a reasonable limit), you could be forced to have the rest of your wealth go back into the value of the company you are running. Then that money would go into the pay of the rest of the workers in your company, improving the quality of life for everyone who is working for that company. That way, everyone working for that company would see the fruits of their labor , including the CEO. Plus at 400,000 a year, much higher than the majority of society, there would still be huge incentive to create successful companies and to work harder than everyone else. So long as people didn't cheat, it would be a win win scenario and do a great job of boosting the global economy as a whole.

Of course, there's always the zeitgeist solution of replacing the majority of jobs with mechanized labor and then getting all the workers from those jobs to work on new projects instead of all the jobs that robots, if well programmed, could theoretically do better than humans. But considering the risks of the majority of the population loosing their job without having a proper income system to ensure the transition goes smoothly, I'm skeptical of that solution working to say the least.

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I think if the federal government were to keep the minimum wage where it is (if not lower it) and set laws that require employers to offer raises incrementally for a period of time worked it would be better for both parties because as an employee earns a higher wage they're less likely to leave the company and thus the companies have more assurance that the employee will stay and invest more time into teaching the employee skills.

this seems like a cool idea but the thing is that minimum wage jobs don't require much skills. thus once an employee has been given enough raises it reaches a point where it's cheaper to fire them and just train up a new person. so your plan is going to result in everyone getting paid near minimum wage plus everyone getting fired/laid off every couple of years.

If all of a sudden they had to pay a liveable wage, prices would increase, customers would decrease and restaurants would close down. You would then have fewer workers required to do more work. Whatever your feelings are about fast food, you would be looking at an economy with far fewer jobs and a massive lack in entry level jobs for students.

prices would increase but more people would have more money to spend. a poor person working minimum wage isn't going to hoard their money; they're going to spend it on stuff. also if people were paid better then we wouldn't have to pay out as much in social support like food stamps. think about it. Walmart pays people like crap and they're forced to get food stamps just to survive. your taxes are subsidising Walmart stockholders' big profits.

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Any company who pays anything less than a living wage (and yes, this includes minimum wage) is stealing from you. Not you, the minimum wage worker, you the taxpayer. Because if someone works for a company and doesn't get enough money to live on, they don't starve. They utilize government programs to subsidize their income. Which taxpayers pay for.

We have our corporate welfare queens using the system to pay for their labor instead of doing it themselves. I think this is wrong, so I support raising the minimum wage to force them out of their corruption. Because while it typically isn't the government's job to force economic decisions at the individual level, it IS its job to not get robbed by greedy CEOs.

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This is one of the better serious threads I can remember at DFAF. I think it's interesting that everyone has a really different opinion that's based on a mix of morals and what we think "might" happen but there's no way for any of us to be objectively wrong.

Liveable minimum wage would increase prices and cost of living. See the problem? Too much of the North American economy is run off of it. Let's look at our fast food industry.

If all of a sudden they had to pay a liveable wage, prices would increase, customers would decrease and restaurants would close down. You would then have fewer workers required to do more work. Whatever your feelings are about fast food, you would be looking at an economy with far fewer jobs and a massive lack in entry level jobs for students.

That is just an example of how one industry would be affected. Minimum wage should be half of what the comfortable amount to live on is. That's my opinion. A couple could afford to live quite easily and if you're alone, it isn't hard to find a room mate if you need one. If you want to live alone or enjoy the luxuries of life, then work your way up the ladder or get a better paying job.

Minimum wage is already in a state by state bases isn't it? I'm pretty sure it is. It is up here.

Edit: Yep. I'm right. For the above example, that's why New York is increasing minimum wage to $9 an hour and Tennessee doesn't even have one. I'm not saying that's enough or anything...

There's a federal minimum wage and then states or cities can set a higher one. I think the federal is like 8.25.

But I tend to agree with your sentiment that what's generally calculated as a livable wage in sometimes a questionable figure. Like the figures on anemone's map, I assume, is derived from the cost it would take one person to pay for an average of all 2 bedroom units plus however they calculated food, etc. And I believe those figures usually include the costs of raising children. The fact of life is that there are towns where people can't afford to live if they work at mcdonalds, but the houses in those towns/areas are still factored into the figure. I don't think anyone would argue that a minimum wage worker should be able to afford a 2-bedroom apartment in midtown manhattan when right now you have people living in studios making well over 100k a year.

To address what hot said about the idea I mentioned; part of what I perceive to be the problem with minimum wage is that the responsibilities assigned to a person that makes minimum wage often aren't what could be expected of any even fairly reasonable or motivated person. I think incremental wage increases that go along with training and skills would mean that the jobs that they're given would have to change, there would probably be some jobs cut out (and kind of leading to what permafry mentioned which has a lot of implications but even if it's scary I think it's what society is heading towards), the workload would be more but the employer should get more use out of the worker. And obviously labor laws would have to be updated, but the idea is more that it would change the way the employers use entry level workers.

And what people mentioned about employee health benefits and full-time hours I think falls into this school of thought as well. If an employer is more invested in an employee then they want them to be healthy, not miss work, work 40 hours a week and further their education.

A problem that I see with raising minimum wages is that even if, hypothetically, all the minimum wage workers keep their jobs, companies continue running, there are no layoffs and all of that. The overall spending in the economy will increase the saving would likely increase (because that's just what minimum wage workers do) but the impact of such a large-scale decrease in investing would be detrimental to the US as a global economic power. You can question their moral tactics but I think it's harder to doubt that the ceo's and shareholders of these large corporations aren't stuffing their profits in a mattress and it's their reinvesting that basically makes the economy go. Not the money that they put in bank accounts or have in cash to buy lunch with.

FWIW I'm honestly pretty liberal but I like to make up a stance that I think is logical that I don't necessarily agree with and then try to defend it just to see what people say. I guess I'm trolling but I'm trying to be somber in it.

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Liveable minimum wage would increase prices and cost of living. See the problem? Too much of the North American economy is run off of it. Let's look at our fast food industry.

This is true, but it doesn't necessarily pose a problem.

It's true that there is no such thing as a free lunch. If you were going to pay employees more per hour, that money would have to come from somewhere, and most likely it would come from the prices of things.

But the real question is HOW MUCH would prices be affected? When you're thinking of it in terms of how many works with individual people, it seems crazy, but how money works with large corporations can be very different and strange.

It's often been cited, for example, that in order to pay all Wal-Mart employees $10/hr, you'd only have to increase the price of Wal-Mart's DVDs by 10 cents.

Only the DVDs. Ten cents.

So, yes, prices would almost certainly rise, but it would not necessarily be the apocalypse, and the pros could outweigh the cons.

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