I just want to add an addendum to this post. I’ve been thinking a lot about this and there are some things I want to make very clear. First, the bottom line is I want people to have the opportunity to live healthy, happy, and satisfying lives. That’s the bottom line. That’s what needs to happen. And I think discussions of raising the minimum wage are really trying to dig at that issue, but they’re falling far short. If my car is barely puttering along, belching smoke, tires flat, engine hemorrhaging oil, is the solution to add a bigger sprayer to the washer fluid so I can see more clearly? No. The car is dead, it’s time for a new one.
Second, I stand by that unskilled work isn’t worth much. It just isn’t. However, my reaction to that isn’t to force paying more for it. My reaction is to ask why someone would be doing that work with the goal of living a healthy, happy and satisfying life. Not to presume to know motivations of everyone out there, but I seriously doubt most retail associates at walmart are honestly trying to build a career out of it. It’s a job, it pays. Not much, but better than nothing. That’s no way to build a healthy, happy and satisfying life, and every single person working a shit job like that knows it.
But does forcing walmart to pay them more really solve the problem? I guess my secondary beef with this is I consider a lot of these kinds of jobs (and a whole host of other jobs, including my own) to be fundamentally useless, and destructive in the larger scale of things. Honestly, I’d rather we just cut these people a check for 40 hours at $15 bucks an hour, no-strings-attached, and be done with it. Because I know at the end of the day, even at a “good” job like mine, people would be a lot happier not doing that useless work.
I’ve said to friends that I really want one of two things: Either to work at a job I can really believe in as long as is pays enough to live and eat (and that’s not a lot at all), or work somewhere where I get payed so much, I don’t give two shits what it is I’m doing. Well, for me personally, the amount I’d have to be paid to not give a shit is higher than I can ever expect to see, so option one is all there is. And people forget, not all minimum wage jobs are for shitty corporate behemoths. Raising the minimum wage might destroy jobs that are allowing people to meet that first option. That would just push us backwards.
I think if people really did some hard thinking and soul searching, they’d find that they agree with that sentiment as well. Raising the minimum wage does NOT get us to option 1. All it does is allow us to see a little more clearly while we continue to hobble down the road in our crippled car.