The fight for comfortable living

By Karly Dunn

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(Denis Boucquet/Daily Collegian)

(Denis Boucquet/Daily Collegian)

Many people view minimum wage increases as bad for our country and hurtful for employment. I read that rising wages cause less employment and higher costs of product. I see people argue that they work harder than entry level employees and have a higher education than the poor, so it is only fair that they get higher-paying jobs than their unskilled, less educated counterparts (as if they don’t already). I hear people complain that McDonalds’ menus are going to become more expensive once the company pays their workers more, like it’s a crime to pay more than one dollar for a McChicken in 2016.

Who are we blaming here? Why is it that The New York Times’ David Brooks insists minimum wage workers shouldn’t get paid more because some of them are teenagers? How is it that conservatives and Republicans believe minimum wage shouldn’t be increased along with every other monetary-related institution as time progresses? Is minimum wage not set in place to provide workers in America with a comfortable way of living?

I am sad to see people believe that everyone in the modern United States has the means to go to college and pay for higher education while balancing a family, household bills and a full-time job. I am embarrassed by the Americans who have no compassion for the families that can hardly pay their rent with $8 an hour, never mind afford thousands of dollars in college bills.

Fifty four percent of minimum wage workers work 35 or more hours a week. This number is comprised of moms, dads, teenagers and family members who take home a lot of their earnings to their parents, siblings and children. It is not that these people are too lazy to go to school to get “real” jobs, but these people have major responsibilities at home that require them to spend their earnings (or lack thereof) on more immediate expenses.

Those upset with a potential rise in minimum wage from $7.25 an hour in 2009 to $15 an hour by 2021 rarely draw issue with other rising costs. If prices of staple items like mortgage payments, rent, heat, water, food and electricity are rising by the year, why aren’t wages? Why is it getting harder and harder to sustain ourselves when it does not have to be? It might have been okay to live off of $8 an hour six years ago. It is not anymore.

Life can’t be easy for everybody and maybe some won’t find “higher-skill” jobs. Maybe some will live a little better while working as a janitor or fast food clerk. Because, simply stated, we are always going to need those people around. Not everyone can be a brain surgeon or a lawyer or the president of the United States, but it wouldn’t hurt to have some compassion for the minimum wage worker who contributes to a society where those surgeons and lawyers can prosper.

Just because someone doesn’t work for the same goals as another doesn’t mean they don’t have people to feed or a car to pay off. Not a lot of people have that luxury. We can’t all be rich or famous. The least our country can do for the minimum wage workers who live in poverty is help them live a little more comfortably.

 

Karly Dunn is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]