By T.J. Chiang
I am making the case against the minimum wage in the United States. It should not exist whatsoever, but to be replaced with a living wage, which could be defined as a wage that can be enough to maintain a decent standard of living. I am against the minimum wage because I feel like everyone should be paid a living wage or a salary for their services no matter how menial the job may be. At it’s core the minimum wage promotes inequality in three areas. First, it promotes wealth and income inequality between the corporate executives and their workers making minimum wage. Some may argue that we can’t afford to pay the workers more– the current debate is now raising the minimum wage from $7.25 (according to the Department of Labor) to $15. I would argue that it is affordable, not just at $15, but a living wage. Executives who make an exuberant amount of money compared to their employees can afford to pay the employees more and share the wealth.
The problem lies not in affordability–I just proved to you it is possible–it is in who’s ought to be running the show, which leads into my second point: political power and leverage. The reason, I believe, the corporate executives don’t want to share the wealth and income is because they want to maintain corporate hegemony. This means they are selfish and want to keep all the power. No one wants to give up their power and everyone one wants more. I believe that they fear by sharing the wealth and income, they would lose power. I argue they won’t lose power. In fact in the long run they will get great returns in power and profit. It’s something called corporate social responsibility.
According to Business News Daily, corporate social responsibility “refers to business practices involving initiatives that benefit society”- this includes its workers. A counter example would be Wal-Mart. Some people (including me) refuse to shop at Wal-Mart due to poor business practices. On the other hand, It feels good to be shopping for a company that treats its workers and society justly- not just thinking about profit.
Furthermore, being paid minimum wage is quite taxing on the worker too. They are working long hours, perhaps even at different jobs, yet still they are not making enough to make ends meet. Or not even and they can afford sustainable housing or transportation.This is not good considering housing and transportation are quite expensive now. According to Money Watch, the average apartment cost $1,231 each month to rent in 2013 prices. A person can’t afford to rent an apartment– let alone buying a house– living off of $7.25 or even $15 an hour. As I searched around the cheapest new car you can find is around $12,000 or $13,000. Yes, you can buy a used car, but it is not very reliable rather than a new car. It begs the question: how can one go to a job if one doesn’t have adequate shelter or reliable transportation?
In sum, I believe it is fully possible to pay workers a decent living wage, if corporate executives put profits second and workers first. In the long run, workers will be happy and through corporate social responsibility, earn more profit!
T.J. is a Senior Sociology Major and an Anthropology Minor