Minimum Wage, It Amazes Me


It amazes me when I speak about raising the minimum wage to something more akin to a living wage. I get attacked by people who I know aren’t counted among the ultra-rich, most of whom aren’t even in the category of earning any ways near what a member of congress gets. I really don’t understand their angst against giving low wage minimum wage workers a fair shake. In their opposition to raising the minimum wage they say things like if they don’t like their job let them find another.

These are people who haven’t obviously haven’t been out looking for a job lately. They obviously have a secure position of employment. And for whatever reason they probably haven’t spent much time looking for work since they came into the adult world, nor have they likely ever had to worry about looking for work. Good for them but it tells me they don’t really understand how not having a job and having to go out into the world and find one works.

I was without a job only twice in my life. But both times it was during a period when the economy was booming and finding a job wasn’t all that difficult. The first time I ended up joining the Air Force but I could have went to work as a parts manager at the Pontiac house in my home town. It paid more but I didn’t see it as my future. The other time was right after I got out of the Air Force and I had applied for unemployment benefits that I had earned while I was in the Air Force. The lady at the unemployment office tried mightily to find me a job, but all she could come up with at the time that related to my skills as a personnel clerk was a position as a desk clerk. Fortunately I took and passed the test for the Post Office and thus a career that lasted 33 years and is still a part of my life even today.

But those were times when there were lots of jobs available and when kids coming out of college were being pursued by corporations and companies who were offering good pay and benefits (including health benefit coverage). If you were offered a position at a company in those days it would likely be one that would be there for you for the life of your work days. That is not longer the case.

Wages have been stagnating for the last 30 years. Companies that once offered all sorts of incentives are now telling kids coming out of college they won’t be eligible for any type of benefits package. Often they don’t even include health benefits or if they do the cost is prohibitive. That is something that Obamacare is helping with. And there is no horde of company recuriters standing at the school house door waiting to gobble up the new college graduates for their company. College graduates are finding the pickings slim these days.

People like to claim that most low wage minimum wage jobs in industries like the fast food industries are staffed by teenagers and college age kids. People who say that ought to take a closer look at those who are working at McDonalds and Burger King and other fast food outlets. Sure there are a smattering of teenagers and college kids but most of those working in the fast food industry are way past the age of consent.

When the economy tanked in 2008 literally hundreds of thousands of people lost their jobs and many ended up in the fast food industry because those were often the only jobs available. It is amazing how many college graduates who were once earning $60,000 to $70,000 a year or more are now working for minimum in a café or fast food place. They didn’t take those jobs because they were lazy. They took them so that they might be able to keep their homes and feed their families. And another myth perpetuated by Faux News and others that a lot of people buy into is that when you work at McDonalds or Taco Bell or Burger King you don’t have to work hard. That is pure BS. I worked at Uncle John’s Pancake House when I was going to college and it was almost as hard of work as when I chopped cotton in 100 degree heat or plowed wheat land in Colorado as a teenager. Forget the BS you hear about how easy they have it it’s simply not true.

I guess people who haven’t ever really had to work hard or spend much time looking for a job can’t grasp the reality of what it means to be out of work in an economy were good paying jobs have dried up and the job market is almost stagnant. I could wish that they would have to spend some time looking for work but I don’t wish that upon anyone. But taking up for the big box stores and the giant corporations whose CEO’s haven’t had to break into to a sweat at least since 2008 makes no sense. They got theirs and raising the minimum isn’t going to be more than blip upon their high priced existence. They can take care of themselves and believe you me they will.

And it will not break their companies to pay their employees a fair and living wage. There are a lot of good examples of companies who pay their employees fair wages and benefits. COSTCO comes to mind. They are 100% Union and they pay their employees a living wage from the day they start with the company and offer them affordable benefits. Texas Instruments as long been a company that pays their employees well with excellent benefits. Homeland right here in Oklahoma is the only Unionized grocer and it has a fair pay package and decent benefits for its employees and most of the Homeland stores here are not only Union they are employee owned.

I don’t hate corporations as one of my detractors seemed to imply I just believe they should and they can pay their employees a fair and living wage and offer them unfettered benefits as well. And yes I am a liberal. I come from a long line of liberal thinkers. I live in a country that when it was founded was the most liberal forward progressive nation ever devised. And there is no reason why we as a nation and a people can’t continue to grow that legacy. After all our constitution states plainly that we were formed to promote the general welfare. Raising the minimum wage to a more fair level is certainly a way we can all help promote the general and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity!

Bob Bearden

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