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Columnist Zoami Calles-Rios Sosa discusses the effects of minimum wage on the company and its socioeconomic influences on society. 

We have all heard the arguments against increasing the minimum wage. They go something along the lines of:

"Higher minimum wages will put businesses out of business."

"Minimum-paying jobs weren't meant to be lifetime careers."

"If they can't even get my order right, why should they get paid more?"

While there are some kernels of truth to these arguments, these are fallacies and are not valid.

These arguments have been passed down by the elite who do not wish to pay their workers more, and many people have just decided to believe it. The idea that the current minimum wage is correct is wrong. The irony is we are arguing about something (the minimum wage) set by the government — by people who don't believe the government should have that much say. If that's the case, perhaps we ought to do away with the minimum wage law and all the protections that ensure companies treat their workers right?

The federal minimum wage has not changed since 2009. That was 12 years ago. By now, we have:

  • Gone through the great housing crisis
  • The rise in the cost of living and inflation
  • The worst oil spill experienced by the U.S.
  • Terrible floods in the Midwest
  • Deadliest natural disasters in our history
  • Sandy Hook Elementary massacre (along with countless other shootings)
  • Terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon
  • The person behind the Sept. 11 attacks was killed
  • The appointment of a Supreme Court justice to the bench a couple of weeks before the new president was elected
  • An insurrection
  • The death of George Floyd
  • A global pandemic
  • And many other things that would take us a whole year to talk about.

All of these have happened, and the minimum wage has not risen.

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Women struggle more than men to make a livable wage.

The truth of the matter is the majority of the 39 million workers that would be affected are women. In fact, 59 percent of those working and underpaid at the current minimum wage are women. More than half of all the employees work full time, and 43 percent have some college experience. Only about 10 percent of all minimum wage workers are teenagers.

The times when flipping burgers were not seen as a career are over. Many people perceived the service jobs as not good enough. I should remind everyone that these have traditionally been seen as women's jobs (that's why they still make up the majority of the minimum wage industries). Women in the past have mainly stayed at home. Their job was to make sure the house was clean, the children reared and food was ready for the husband — all service-oriented tasks.

In a country where women are still valued less than a man (on average, earning 82 cents per every dollar that a man earns), it makes sense that we would have minimum wages so low, but this is wrong.

In a recent study, single men outspent single women from $35,018 to $33,876, respectively. This may seem significant until you realize that these women earned $10,000 less than men. Imagine where all that extra money would go if we had it? Unlike mega-rich people, regular people spend most of their money buying things. This means the more money they have in their pockets, the more the economy can grow and benefit their communities and everyone around them.

Some businesses may struggle to meet newer minimum wage requirements and will go out of business. Rest assured that McDonald's won't be one of them. It may be smaller, mom and pop shops — but not necessarily. Being in business is all about adjusting to problems and new ways as they come. Will it take some time to figure it out? Of course, but it doesn't mean businesses have to go out of business. 

New Zealand is changing its minimum wage from $18.90 to $20 per hour, and you can still get a cheeseburger combo from McDonald's for $8.64. The McDonald's near me is hiring and has been forced to raise their starting wages up these last couple of years as they can't find people to work. Their current lowest starting wage sits at around $12.50, plus sign-on bonuses.

Will the prices of everything else go up if the minimum wage does too?

Of course other things will go up, but if wages go up, it should not be a problem. It will only be a problem for those companies who want to keep the same percentage of profit as before.

The cost of living keeps going up and up. It should not be the case that someone working full time makes less than the cost of living. We are all trading our time for money. Do we really want other people to sell their lives away and not even make ends meet?

Not everyone has the luxury to be born rich or to have a family that supports them. Not everyone has the luxury of being surrounded by people who propelled them forward or have the innate ability to push themselves out of their circumstances on their own. Many people struggle and can't find their way through life for some reason or another. I don't want to punish them by having unreasonable wages that force them to continue working their entire life and still need food stamps.

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Servers and other service-oriented jobs should make livable wages. 

I believe raising the minimum wage is a must in this time and age. If someone wants to make a living working at McDonald's, then that should be perfectly acceptable. Not everyone is cut out to be sitting at a desk inputting information on a spreadsheet or answering emails.

Trading our time for money is the primary means by which we make a living. If we are going to trade 40 hours each week, regardless of what the job is, it should, at minimum, cover living expenses without having to resort to government help like food stamps. If we are good enough to buy our lunch from McDonald's (or any other place that pays federal minimum wage), then the workers that made that happen are more than good enough to get a decent living wage for their service.

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Zoami Calles-Rios Sosa is a senior in civil engineering with a minor in urban studies. 

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(4) comments

Seymour Trout

The world does not owe you a living. When you frame raising the minimum wage in social justice terms, it sounds like a fine thing, but, in reality, you are demanding other people be enslaved to pay your way. It’s theft.

The harsh truth is that your labor is worth whatever the highest bidder is willing to pay you. They do not owe you a high wage because you are the most special snowflake in the world. If you want to earn more money, then acquire the marketable skills that employers need and for which they will pay. That is the path to a living wage. Earn it.

Your argument is what economists call rent-seeking, in which you pressure the government to provide you with a benefit. In other words, you believe the price the free market has set on your labor should be disregarded in place of a price set by how effectively you can pressure the government to force employers to pay you more than you are worth. The ultimate result of paying you a premium is that employers will hire less of you. They will reconfigure their business to use less of your labor and replace you with machines.

You stumbled on the truth when you wrote that we “ought to do away with the minimum wage law and all the protections that ensure companies treat their workers right?” Yes, that’s exactly correct. People should be free to take any job that pays any wage they find acceptable. Employers will treat their employees right when they can easily flee their abuse. Low wage workers are constantly being poached by other employers who pay them more.

There are people who are not worth the minimum wage of $7.25. If you are a teenager who comes from a broken home who resents taking orders, has a bad attitude, who cannot complete a task, who shows up late or not at all, employers will fire you. If you could be hired for a lower wage to do spot work, then you could learn the basic discipline of work that would allow you to climb the economic ladder to a $7.25/hour job and beyond.

When the government sets a min wage, it does not lift everyone up to that wage, but cuts them off from all work that is worth less than that. It snaps off the lower rungs of the economic ladder so that the least productive cannot get a job. They need those jobs to learn how to work. The min wage is a cruel and destructive law for them that denies them a future.

I recommend you find a sample budget for an average McDonald’s on the Internet. The cost of all the workers is listed under Crew Cost. Most McDonald’s restaurant staff are not paid the min wage but about $9, maybe $10 in pricey markets. You can calculate what effect a $15 min wage would have on a restaurant by multiplying the crew cost by 15/9. You will find that such an increase will force the place to operate at a loss. My numbers say it will lose $400,000 per year. So, raising the min wage will bankrupt every McDonald’s, which destroys their jobs. It also bankrupts every restaurant that relies on unskilled labor, which is to say, waiters and cashiers and dishwashers.

Simply put, when the government raises the min wage to $15, it destroys all the jobs that pay min wage. It destroys the entire market for unskilled labor. It is a stupid idea by stupid liberals who cannot do arithmetic nor balance a budget. And, now, with the election of Biden as president, it appears that the liberals have the power to make this Big Stupid Thing happen. This will be a catastrophe for America and unskilled labor.

Your reasons for a $15 min wage are painfully stupid. Prices are set by the market based on supply and demand, not your imaginary psychic trauma. It doesn’t matter whether the cost of living has risen. If the supply of unskilled labor overwhelms demand, the price will drop.

Oil spills do not determine wages nor do floods nor school massacres nor do appointments to the Supreme Court nor terrorist attacks nor do fanatics storming the Capitol. You do not get a raise if your boyfriend breaks up with you. No raise if you fall in Lake Laverne. No raise if the Campanile doesn’t ring. No raise if there is a pothole in the street on the way to class. You do not get a raise if you get a hangnail.

You do not get a raise because you are a woman. This is a sexist argument by feminist bigots who think they should get paid more than men, whatever decisions they make, just because they are women.

Prices do not rise because costs rise. That’s Marxist price theory, which has been thoroughly debunked by the many bankruptcies of every Communist country. In a free capitalist market, price is based on supply and demand, not cost. Usually, when costs rise, the business has to eat the loss. The only time price rises with cost is when a company has a monopoly on a product that customers must have, like air or water. That rarely happens. Usually, when prices rise, customers buy substitutes. For example, if the price of restaurant pizza gets too expensive, people buy cheaper frozen pizza at the grocery store.

A college student should know this.

If you plan on making a career of flipping burgers at McDonald’s, you’re either lazy, incompetent, a fool, or all three. It’s a transitional first job on the way to greater things. It is not hard to acquire the additional marketable skills to get a better job than working the french fry trap. Command of Microsoft Office will win you a secretary job.

Claiming that restaurants are good enough to earn a living wage if you buy your lunch from them is a non sequitur. If you trust a teenager to babysit your children, is she good enough to earn a living wage from you? If a guy likes to be an organ grinder with a monkey in the park on Saturdays, does he deserve a living wage from you? If your girlfriend sells jewelry or Tupperware as a side gig, does she deserve a living wage from you? Should all volunteer work be paid a living wage?

Your fervent assumption that all jobs deserve a living wage is wrong. People work for many reasons. Some housewives work part time for fun money and to get out of the house. Some retirees work jobs far beneath their abilities just to keep active. When you foolishly demand that all jobs pay a living wage, you shut down a big chunk of the economy to people who work side gigs for fun, not for a living.

Noah Kopischke

Thank you Seymour Trout for helping me speak logic into the nonsense of a minimum wage and demonstrating how destructive it is to the poorest of our society.

Seymour Trout

My pleasure, Noah. Unfortunately, reason has no charms for liberals. What we need is for dozens of like minded people to write in their criticism of foolish liberal ideas. The editors of the Daily can shrug off rational rebuttals of their wacky ideas, but they really hate mass criticism. Let the mass criticism begin.

Noah Kopischke

This article is wrong in so many ways. The best option is to remove the minimum wage altogether. The ONLY thing that a minimum wage does is eliminate jobs that could otherwise exist. If you raise the minimum wage, here is what will happen: some people will make more money (hooray), and other people will lose their jobs so that businesses can afford to pay their employees the new wage. Now tell me if I'm wrong, but isn't that creating more inequality? The problem about a livable wage was mentioned in this article, but you didn't see it as such. The problem is that people spend more than they make. And then they get into debt and have to pay more money, and then more, until they go bankrupt. People need to spend less. You noted the difference between mega-rich and regular people; regular people spend more. Did it occur to you that maybe the reason for that difference is precisely the fact that mega-rich people DO NOT spend ALL of their money, or worse, MORE THAN ALL of their money? Please stop with this foolish nonsense of a minimum wage. Take an economics class and learn how a minimum wage creates a false equilibrium, eliminates jobs, and creates economic inefficiency.

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