Originally Posted by mcbear
Prof, the problem with this tough love approach is that in most locations there are not those extra jobs around. If you are making minimum wage you don't have money to start a business and you are already working 40+ hours a week to make ends meet so adding school may or may not be an option.
Since the 1930's this country has always tried to be fair to its workers. At times it seems they get "extras" but for the most part "fair" is a good target. It is not too much to ask of companies to pay workers a living wage. If we are so tight for money while driving a Benz that we are bitching that the Walmart, Sears or Macys prices just went up 2% to cover a living wage for their employees then we really need to reprioritize our lives.
The current minimum is $5.15 per hour. That is $1690 per MONTH with TWO people working 40 hour weeks, before any taxes [and there should not be much]
How many of us can run a household on that with kids on a regular basis? I know it can be done, but who would call that a living wage for two people working 40 hours a week each?
This is one point on which I fully agree with the Professor. I've said before that people do what they are incented to do - it's almost a natural law of humanity. Discomfort (or the avoidance thereof) is a significant motivator to all but the psychologically challenged. Living in poverty is pretty uncomfortable. If the result of being an unmotivated dullard is that you can only work for the minimum wage, those people will either A) live in poverty at their own decision and peril, or B) pull themselves up by their bootstraps and find a way to make more than $5.15 / hour.
The argument that two people working full time at minimum wage can't support a household is absolute hogwash...or "asinine", to throw around a recently used term. Whatever the origins of the minimum wage, the result of it now is to provide/require employers who offer unskilled labor a baseline at which to pay people, and to offer those entering the workforce (mostly teenagers) a way to earn their own spending cash. The real payment from working minimum wage jobs is the life lessons it teaches. Accountability, diligence, pride in one's work, working as part of a team, etc. If you've made it to 30 and have two children, yet still haven't learned these lessons, you never will.
15 years ago, I was making less than $7.50 an hour as a computer technician for a small integrator. I was a high-school drop out with no GED. I realized that to live the life I wanted, I had to do two things - develop skills that were attractive to bigger empoyers, and get my GED. I'm now managing IS&T engineering and operations for a $2 billion company. I won't get into specifics, but a few years ago I took a 20% pay cut from a six-figure job in Minneapolis to provide a better quality of life for my family.
A better way of life exists in this country for anyone who wants it. Anyone who says differently is full of shit. Slackers who want to earn $15k a year or more are welcome to it, as long as it's not an unwarranted gift from the government that I'm forced to subsidize. If you're worried about the poor, keep the minimum wage in check.
And while we're at it, let's regulate gas prices in this country...it's obvious that the simple formula being used by oil companies to calculate gas prices doesn't take into account that refining costs don't rise with the price of crude oil. When entire industries act irresponsibly or against the good of the citizens, the government steps in to protect us - it's the only entity that can.