In Defense of $15 an Hour

May 1st of this year marked not only the annual May Day parades celebrated by leftists across the globe but also one of the most major victories for Socialists in this nation as Seattle announced it would raise it’s minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour.

While the push for a higher minimum wage has existed for quite some time, the unprecedented victory in Seattle is largely thanks to the efforts of Socialist councilmember Kshama Sawant and the 15 Now campaign.

As the movement continues to pick up steam, we’ll doubtlessly be seeing more and more Democrats attempt to hijack the movement and its advances as being of their own design, similar to their attempts to steal credit for the 8 hour work day, but as much as I’d like to call these folks out, today’s discussion is not about defending the achievements of dirty Commies but defending these achievements period. There are plenty of people out there who’d like to see this movement defeated- here are some talking points to defend $15-an-hour.

Argument 1: Raising the minimum wage will wreck the economy! Small businesses won’t be able to afford to keep staff!

Response 1: We could make the exact same argument about our current minimum wage. The min. wage in Nevada is $8.25- could I not argue that this is keeping companies from hiring as many people as they can? Could I not argue that my inability to pay this much prevents me from being a business owner? Where does it end?

Do we lower the minimum wage to $5.25? $2.25? Ten cents an hour and a handful of cold rice?

There’s a reason we have a minimum wage, and that’s to ensure that every worker has reasonable recompense for his or her labor. It strikes me as being both fair and reasonable that if I cannot provide my employees with equitable pay, I shouldn’t have a business to begin with.

Is that really such a crazy concept?

Not even this duckling thinks so…

Argument 2: This is pointless, since everyone will just wind up raising the cost of living along with the rise in income. The only thing a rise in the minimum wage will create is inflation.

Response 2: That’s actually not a wholly unreasonable argument, but it’s still not all that accurate. Yeah, there are almost certainly going to be people who raise prices- that’s the corrupt nature of Capitalism- but the idea that there’s going to be a rise in the cost of living that’s both universal and completely proportional just doesn’t seem believable. The cost of rice in a local supermarket is almost certainly not going to suddenly skyrocket because the population has more money to spend. If one company did raise its prices, would it rise in total lockstep with the minimum wage? Probably not- my bet’s on the minimum wagers still coming out ahead. Even if that one company did raise its prices, will every other brand of rice do the same? Almost certainly not.

There are so many other factors involved in pricing, the idea that this would happen at all is a bit far-fetched, and even that doesn’t address the fundamental issue here. While the minimum wage has stayed pretty much the same over the years, the cost of living has gone up regardless. $15 an hour is simply helping to bridge an already massive gap and get the poor and working class back to where they need to be.

Argument 3: A guy flipping burgers or getting my order wrong at the drive-through doesn’t deserve 15 dollars an hour! Why should an adult get paid 15 an hour for doing a kid’s job?

Response 3: Again, the logic is there in that argument- it’s just not tied to reality. If we’re going to howl about people being paid exorbitant funds for doing simple or pointless tasks, let’s crucify professional athletes, not some poor stiff just trying to pay his rent.

Even at $15 an hour, your average cashier isn’t going to be showering himself in champagne.

Okay, that’s a bit of an extreme metaphor- let’s talk instead about the good folks at Costco. The average employee at Costco makes $21 an hour!

That’s more than I make. A metric ****ton more. But do I slouch around grumbling and complaining that these guys get to enjoy benefits and security for themselves and their families? I don’t. That’s how they get you, comrades- they try to pit working class schlubs against each other. If we’re bickering over who gets 50 cents more an hour, we’re not going to be targeting, for example, some CEO making $9,000 an hour.

That’s Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks

Don’t you think that maybe- just maybe– for $15 an hour, people might be a bit more motivated to actually provide better service? I know at some point in our lives we’ve all declared “I’m not getting paid enough to deal with this ****!”- why does that logic magically stop working for the poorest among us?

As for these jobs being “kid’s” jobs- maybe that was true at one point in history, but today that’s simply not the case. More and more office and white-collar jobs seem to be going for less and less pay, and with unemployment at record levels, more than 40% of all fast food workers are over the age of 25. These are people with families, bills, rent. The only reason these lousy jobs used to be “kid’s jobs” was because highschoolers didn’t have to worry about these expenses.

Argument 4: Seriously, raising the minimum wage to this level will devastate the local economy. Even large businesses who could take the hit are just going to cut hours and reduce staff.

Response 4: That should be used to criticize such companies, not a fair living-wage. But let’s be pragmatists here and assume that will happen- we’re still going to probably see a boost to the local economy, rather than a decline. Think about it- how many folks would suddenly have a ton of disposable income on $15 an hour? How many folks who’ve been pinching every penny will suddenly be eating out more often? Buying that extra round? Giving a more generous tip? Spending more when Christmas or birthdays roll around? I’m probably the last person to defend Capitalist economics in any shape or form, but c’mon- even I can admit that all that cash cycling back into the economy is going to create business and employment alike.

Argument 5: Workers don’t deserve $15 an hour period. It’s absurd that someone doing unskilled labor should be enjoying that much of a reward.

Response 5: I could call “sour grapes” on this argument again, but I’m not going to. Let’s address this for what it is- a fundamental misunderstanding of the economics of the thing here.

Take your average fast food burger joint, for example. Let’s say the average sale per customer is 6 dollars and the place gets about 1000 customers per day (comparable to McDonald’s). That’s already $6,000 per day– now let’s factor in cost of production. We’ll say the total daily cost for electricity, water, basic supplies, and transportation is $1,000. I’m guessing that’s a massive overestimate, but that’ll just bulwark my point. We’ll say this place has a crew of 10 people in total, each working an 8 hour shift at $15 an hour, coming to $1,200 in wages. That’s still a sum profit of $3,800. These “unskilled” laborers who we’re so quick to chew out for getting our order wrong are responsible for creating a nearly 400% profit. Do you do that for your company?

It’s easy to look down our noses at these people- we’re conditioned by society to treat our service industry like subhuman garbage. If we insist on doing that, can’t we at least pay them a fair wage?

Is that so much to ask?

6 responses to “In Defense of $15 an Hour

  1. Socioeconomic advancement is much different than simple economic advancement. Such a drastic change in the minimum wage would surely increase purchasing power and decrease poverty, but do we really want people to be complacent as cashiers and fry cooks? Aren’t both society and the individual better off if they aspire and work toward being mechanics, electricians, business owners, machinists, carpenters, and generally becoming more talented and educated? The question shouldn’t be ‘how do we make every job sustainable’, it’s ‘how do we get people to learn and find sustainable jobs’. Everyone benefits when the labor force is progressive in nature.

    • I hear what you’re saying, but I think there are some elements you’re not taking into account.

      First, not everyone can (or wants to) advance beyond a position such as this. I’m not talking about the mentally challenged, but let’s face it, there are plenty of folks out there who aren’t exactly going on to become rocket scientists later in life. These (largely) unskilled jobs are for some folks the only option they have, and preventing a rise in the minimum wage only serves to condemn them to perpetual poverty. Likewise, there are some folks (not many, but some) who have no desire to be anything but a cashier or hostess or the like- people who simply love that kind of work for whatever reason. Again, I don’t want to force someone to live from paycheck to paycheck simply for choosing to work as a janitor somewhere.

      Secondly, there are other motivations out there besides money. Paying someone 15 an hour to scrub toilets will give them a basic standard of living (as the minimum wage is intended to), but it doesn’t make scrubbing toilets any more fulfilling of a job. We’re driven not only by money but do work a job we enjoy, and even if money were the sole issue here, “mechanics, electricians, business owners, machinists, carpenters” all make waaaaay more than 15 an hour.

  2. You did not take into consideration the people already earning 15$. They would probably want a raise too and the 16$ and the 17$ and …

  3. Pingback: Freedom Socialist Party Offers $13 An Hour (This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things) | Culture War Reporters

  4. Pingback: Asmiov, Vonnegut, & Wendy’s: I For One Welcome Our Robot Overlords | Culture War Reporters

Join the discussion-

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s