Friday, July 24, 2009

A Raise For Many

Just after I graduated high school, while in my first year of college, I worked at a day care. I thought, at the time, I wanted to be an elementary school teacher, so the day care was a good idea. Plus I was 18 and this left my nights and weekends free. :-)

I made $3.35 an hour.

I netted (if I remember correctly) about $113 a week.

I was living at home. The only bill I had was a car payment, but I was considering moving into an apartment across town with a friend. 2 BR/ 1 BA. $220 a month. I would have been stretched pretty thin, my friend got engaged, we decided against it.

Several years ago Floridians voted on whether or not to raise the state minimum wage from the federal level of $5.15. My brother and I had words over it. Of course I voted to raise it. He said, out loud, "It was only $3.35 when I graduated; it's gone up since then. Why are people complaining?"

Of course he doesn't make minimum wage and he can't make ends meet. But, according to him (and others), raising the state or federal minimum wage just causes the prices of everything else to be raised, therefore making the raises null and void and causing the rest of us (who make more than minimum wage) to lose spending power.

I am not an economist. But I think my brother is full of shit.*

Because prices have continually risen over the last 24 years since I graduated high school. The price of gas, bread, milk, green beans, cars and houses (to name a very few) has skyrocketed in the last 10 years alone.

Here is a cute little website showing the average cost of things in 1985 when I graduated and minimum wage was $3.35.

Here is the same website updated for 2001, the last year the cost of living is available when minimum wage was $5.15.

Prices had gone up tremoundously, minimum wage not so much.

There are also many who say raising the wage will put some people out of jobs, because smaller businesses can't afford it. Maybe, but the truth is that there are many businesses who CAN afford to pay their employees more than minimum wage, who can even afford to pay their employees a living wage and they don't. Why? Because the company owners may only be able to afford two trips to Europe this year, the poor babies.

If people were paid fairly by those who can afford to pay them, we would not need a law. But people are hateful, horrible and greedy and must be FORCED to pay.

And we wonder why our country is sinking to quickly into the toilet!

*My brother isn't an economist either, he is a dipshit.


skyewriter said...

I used to work for a group of dentists that accepted Medicaid (in addition to holding the plan for Notre Dame and accepting other types of private insurance) who paid their employees very little...and offered no benefits.

Meanwhile, they got new cars every other year (Mercedes, Lexus, etc.), bought horse farms and horses, bought vacation homes on the Lake Michigan shore, and traveled the world.

I know how hard and expensive graduate school is, but profits seem to be the only motivator for some in the medical field after they finish.

And they gripe about people who take so-called *government handouts* when they themselves take public aid as payment.

Sorry this was a bit off topic, but we have a huge class of working poor in this country and it makes me sick to see how hard some people work so that only a few can reap the rewards of that labor.

You should recommend Barbara Ehrenreich's _Nickel and Dimed_ to your brother to read. It is a first hand account by a journalist who tried for a year to live on minimum wage in several areas in the US, no kids, no car. She couldn't do it. Imagine the millions of Americans who live that life not by choice, but because they cannot get a break of any kind.


two crows said...

hi, LLL--
you got inspired by your brother, huh? who woulda thunk?

here's another reference you can give him if you'd like. it's a post on one of my blogs.

LeftLeaningLady said...

skywriter, i LOVED that book. So sad. I think I did suggest it to him, reading is not his past time. I also suggested Jonathon Kobol's "Amazing Grace" heartbreaking. (I think I spelled the name right) I wasn't voting for Guiliani in the last election anyway, but after I told some people about this book, they didn't vote for him either!

two crows, I wish a dose of reality would affect his brain, but "it ain't going to happen." I will read it though.

Anonymous said...

Nickel and Dimed isn't an objective book. She uses drugs, lives by herself in a cheap motel, lacks work ethic and business sense, and wasn't objective. She set out to fail and so she did.
Try reading Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream instead. There's a short version at Your brother may know more than you.