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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Intelligent Debate on Minimum Wage

I missed the last bloggers meeting... I enjoy the meetings because it's such a diverse group that comes together to share ideas. We may not always agree with each other but we respect each other (well, except for maybe John!) and have a great time sharing our ideas.

Though I wasn't in attendance for the last meeting I can still participate in an intelligent discussion. Earlier I posted a little rant regarding my view on the minimum wage, and attempts to increase it. In summary, I said if people want to make more money they should earn it.

Ron, of Chatter, posted a reply, to which I also responded. I thought the discussion was interesting enough to recap. I truly would like to understand where the opposing view is coming from and solicit more input on the subject from the local blogging community (except for maybe John). Ron wrote:

Of course the best way to earn more money is to work harder, have an education and be an asset to your employer. But what does that have to do with a minimum wage?

Could you live on $206 a week? Could you support a family on $10,712 a year? Do you think that's a fair and adequate wage, especially with current gasoline prices?

To which I responded (edited for grammar, typos, and spelling, 417pundit):
No, Ron I couldn't live on $206 a week. I decided early on that I wouldn't be able to survive on my minimum wage job I had in high school.

So I decided to do something about it. I got an education and that allowed me to get a job that lets me live the lifestyle I want to live. I didn't do it alone, I had family and to help and Uncle Sam to subsidize me (and early on, Uncle Sam even gave me money to go to school).

Now I'm not saying others can't live on $206 a week. I know people who are, but that's the lifestyle they've chosen for themselves. It certainly doesn't include worrying about things like paying for gas (see you at the bus stop).

As far as raising a family on $206 a week, I'm not arguing the fact that no one can properly care for a family on that wage. However a family with two parents earning minimum wage probably can survive on $412 a week, though I wouldn't suggest it.

What I do suggest is that people take some personal responsibility and make decisions to get where they want to be under their own means instead of crying and complaining.

If you've decided you want to raise a family you better get a job that pays more than minimum wage. That way you can support your family and the lifestyle that you've chosen. I'd sure like to have a boat and some other toys but I'm not whining to my employer that they don't pay me enough to support the lifestyle I want.

The same people that will cry about not getting a minimum wage increase will be crying that they can't afford a big mac after the market adjusts to compensate for the increased cost of burger flippers.

I noticed I didn't answer Ron's last question, do I think it's a fair wage. Yes, for the jobs I know that pay minimum wage I do think it's a fair wage, in some cases more than fair. Take this job for example. Think he ought to find a better use of his time to support his family?

So Springfield Bloggers, what's your $0.02 on the subject? Better hurry and respond before the cost of creating the $0.02 thought goes up because of an increase in the minimum wage! ;)

Note: the church image and the open house image were taken from flickr. Credit belongs to their respective authors.

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Blogger meghann said...

I feel the minimum wage should stay where it is. People don't seem to understand that we are able to buy the $.99 cheeseburger because someone is working for minium wage. Sure it sounds good to give people more money, but it's just not practical. As you said, Duane, most people decide while they are young and working a minimum wage job that they want more. They get an education or learn a skill so they can do something they hopefully like and also make more money at it.

But it's not a choice without consequences, especially when most people have to have financial assistantance to carry out the extra education. However, we are rewarded in the end with a higher paying job and benefits. We live a better quality of life, can afford extra things, etc.

Why should someone who just goes to highschool, and maybe doesn't even graduate, get the same benefits and wages as me? If they wanted more they should have worked towards it.

We will always have people thinking the world owes them something, instead of bucking up and changing things in their own life. Do I complain when I get my paycheck and see how much money I am putting into social security? Do I complain that I am putting in more money then I will ever be able to get out? No, because by having my job and making more money I am saying I'm okay with it. I realize that by having my higher paying job, that I will help take care of other citizens when they are retired, part of the consequence of my making higher wages.

Err..I guess I'll stop for now. This is a long reply :)

7:47 AM  
Blogger Larry Litle said...

This is an issue that brings out people's passions. I agree with your and Meghann's views on this but I also know many people that disagree with us very intensely. I was recently told that I am being hypocritical with my Christianity because I am against raising the minimum wage. That sent me into a huge argument with a friend. I have been gathering some research to do a post on the minimum wage and affects of raising it. I was shocked to see a large percentage of the overall population of Southwest Missouri (usually very conservative) being in favorite of raising it. It makes for an interesting discussion. This may have rekindled that desire to post on it. I am sure it will have its share of typos.

9:09 AM  
Blogger Betsy said...

WOW, my mouth was hanging open when I saw that picture of the church sign. It litterally makes my stomach turn when I see people using Jesus or Gods name to push their issues.
I dont think God would care if the min. wage was increased.. In my very own opinion I would think He'd say "wheres the faith" to the ones who are complaining about the min. wage.. God provides no matter how little or how much we make if we believe that. Most people have no real understanding of how God works and to see Him being used like that makes my stomach turn.

Oh yeah.. Good post Duane!

9:23 AM  
Blogger Duane Keys said...

Larry, I guess I'm lucky, as they can't pull the hypocrisy card on me (I don't consider myself "Christian"). But if I were I would argue that charity and the minimum wage have nothing to do with one another. I look forward to your post on the subject.

Besty, look close at the sign and the URL. The image is fake (you can make your own church sign by going to that URL).

12:39 PM  
Blogger Betsy said...

DUANE! YOu had me goin all day because of that church sign! YOu should of heard the ranting and raving I did (not really but kind of) haha

Still Larrys comment on not being Christian-like bothered me too

Again.. good post.

4:24 PM  
Blogger shanebench said...

Raising the minimum wage is not the answer. People that fill these jobs need something else. They need education, but a different kind - they need to be educated to understand on how to better themselves and have 'can do' attitude. I know, I know - your thinking what is this crazy goon saying? Well, hear me out.

I spent 7 years as a manager at McD's, working my way through college (yes, it took that long - I was on the 'Tommy Boy' plan!). I've supervised just about every kind of person working in a minimum wage environment, and spent a lot of time talking to them about their lives and upbringing. The people that complained about their wage made up a surprisingly small percentage of the employees. And from my perspective, most of these folks just never learned how to succeed. Whether it was their upbringing, absence of good parents, or maybe just below average intellect, they never put 2 and 2 together to figure out how to make a better life for themselves.

It sounds like excuses, but think about it. Didn't you have some teachers growing up that you just couldn't learn from? Imagine if they were your parents, trying to teach you how to live. Most of the people I know that are successful, either had very good parents (or parent) growing up or were slightly smarter than the average joe.

I think it is in our nature to help people. But not by just handing them money. The challenge is to attempt to re-educate these folks on how to succeed. As the old adage says “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime”, which is what we should try to do. I don't know if that's restructuring the welfare system to incorporate some sort of career guidance and counseling or what. This wouldn't fix the problem, but seems like a step in a better direction.

Man, that was difficult to write that without inserting some of my typical lame humor! Great topic w.A.A.M!

9:56 PM  
Blogger Duane Keys said...

I agree completely, Shane. That'll be the first and last time, thank you very much.

But seriously, I know exactly what you're talking about. I guess I came off colder than I intended. I do want to help people, but I want them to help themselves.

Sadly, I was hoping for some comments from the other side of the debate.

Ron, where are you? Or were you playing devil's advocate?

Granny, Amy, John? I figured you all would chime in.

12:13 PM  

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