On Jan. 28, President Barack Obama gave the State of the Union address; he addressed the problems the country has been facing and as well proposing a solution to fix them. Besides the obvious issues such as immigration, healthcare, and the ailing economy, he touted a new reform within the federal government: raise the minimum wage up to $10.10 an hour while asking the state governments to do the same. This resulted in a divide between the nation; one side says this will properly compensate the workers and let them avoid poverty, while the other side claims this will cause a disaster that harms the small businesses and add pain to the already hurting economy. However, it has been proven over and over again that raising the minimum wage helps the economy!
There are several misconceptions from uninformed public and misinformation from the opposing side about the minimum wage. Despite the opinions of the opposition, it has been proven that higher wages doesn’t hurt the economy, but rather support it. To drive the point home, here are the arguments form the opposition and the rebuttals.
1. It will the hurt the economy in the long run – False. If higher minimum wage would hurt the economy on the long run, countries and states that raised it would be in economic chaos, wouldn’t it? Instead, it’s prospering and actually helping the people rather than harming it. In fact, go to another country like Australia ($16.88) or a state such as Connecticut and Washington, and then ask if the minimum wage should be lowered. They will look at you like you’re crazy! What must be understood is that money doesn’t disappear; unless the nation has a new trend of keeping every paycheck in cash and burrowing it underground, the money comes back into the economy. With more money, the people can buy more food, which benefits the farmers or their company, pay rent and benefit their landlord; pay for clothes, which benefits the clothing line company; or keep it in their bank to save, which will benefit the bank who’ll just invest in it elsewhere. Once money is given to the consumer who desperately needs it, they spend it and come back to us, proven by countries cited in Washington Post where high minimum wage countries like Australia never went back to a lower wage.
2. Minimum wage workers are paid enough– False. When the fast food workers of McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut etc. declared a strike and protested against their company with the threat of being fired, they were protesting against the conditions they worked under that forced them into poverty. According to the Census Bureau’s report in 2011, many workers with a minimum wage job are on federal benefits to survive. In fact, companies such as McDonald’s or Wal-Mart actually train their human resources department to direct the workers to these federal benefits because of the large numbers of their employees who needs them. The cost of living is going up while the wage has been stale and stayed $7.25 since 2009! We can raise the minimum wage to ensure workers are being properly compensated for their labor and they can actually afford to live rather than force them to use federal benefits, which hurts us more in the long run than us paying them higher minimum wage.
3. Minimum wage jobs should be temporary until the worker can climb up the socio-economic ladder – Should be true. But isn’t unfortunately. To make it black and white then say anyone whose working fulltime in low-end jobs are lazy people should have gotten a better job is a cop-out to seeing the actual complex problem. We must understand the background of the situation that has been causing so many problems. A long time ago, many of the jobs in the country were agricultural work until we made the transition into industrial work. The transition was actually much easier than most people think, you didn’t need degree to become a factory worker which soon dominated the workforce of 19th century America. What was unexpected was the fast progress of the Industrial Revolution. Jobs that were supplied to the millions of American workers were taken by machines, and the advancement of airplanes and ships allowed massive outsourcing of manual labor jobs that was valued here to Third World countries for extremely cheap wage. What’s left was millions of Americans without jobs, and as time progresses, even more will become unemployed. And since they were full time workers, they didn’t have time for education, which left their prospects grim. In fact, according to Board of Labor Statistics, majority of the unemployed are over 35 and never graduated from college. A domino effect of bad events ensued, creating the problem: uneducated poor Americans forced to work in dead-end jobs that can’t afford education or living. They’re forced into a cycle of poverty where they’re forced into federal benefits to survive yet unable to have enough to afford educations.
So, we have two choices: We can refuse to raise the minimum wage and continue the cycle of poverty where the people can’t afford education nor living then let this cycle repeat. Or we can raise the minimum wage to give them an economically proven method to climbing the mobility ladder. For the sake of the nation, let the latter be chosen.