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Minimum wage discussion thread

Old 01-01-22, 09:16 PM
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Re: Minimum wage discussion thread

Originally Posted by cultshock View Post
In my experience, the idea that a minimum wage shouldn't be a livable wage is a uniquely American attitude among first world countries, and sadly I can't say that I'm the least bit surprised.
I knew at least one person would not bother to go beyond the surface of that statement.

A livable wage should not be the minimum paid to every person for every job. Some jobs are not full time, support a lifestyle jobs. Working the counter slinging popcorn at a movie theater is not a full-time support a family job. It is a part-time job, 15-20 hours a week at best. To suggest that employee should be paid $40,000+ is ludicrous. That does not mean there should not be a minimally acceptable pay.

On it's face, I would suggest it seems absurd to pay $40,000 a year to a hamburger cook at McDonalds or a cashier at Walmart ... but when I see what those companies make in a year, there is no real reason they shouldn't. Those people are integral to those profit margins. The reason they pay minimum wage is because those people can be easily replaced. Unfortunately too many companies see humans as expenses who take away from profits and not as investments who add to profits.

The very idea of a livable wage cannot be broken down into an hourly unit. Perhaps a employer decides they are going to pay $20 per hour (equivalent of $41,600/year) -- that's more than many teachers make -- but they are not going to give any employee more than 15 hours. Did that do much good? What most people really want when they say "a livable wage" is actually a "job that provides a livable wage" not an overly-simplistic hourly rate.
Old 01-01-22, 10:40 PM
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Re: Minimum wage discussion thread

I think it’s pretty clear and widely accepted in this country that “livable wage” means for 40 hours of work.
Old 01-02-22, 01:14 AM
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Re: Minimum wage discussion thread

The problem with wages isn't just that they're so low--it's that, as others have pointed out, it's become a commonplace practice for employers to only hire part time so they don't have to offer benefits. Depending on the kind of work, it's not always possible for a person to combine two jobs successfully, particularly when neither one of them will provide things like health insurance coverage or paid time off. Yet conservatives will argue that working two jobs is a perfectly acceptable expectation of people working in the service sector.

This issue is something I have evolved about over the years. When I first posted in this forum, I bought the "minimum wage is for the kids" party line. The older I've gotten, the more I've realized that the "ism" that undergirds all other isms--sexism, racism, etc.--is classism, along with the oft-unspoken idea, sometimes buttressed by some religions, that people are inherently worthless unless they can work, and that the nature of that work defines their total worth as people. Such a mindset is poisonous and ought to be stamped out. Yes, there are people who are lazy and will game the system if given the chance. But if they didn't HAVE to--if they were able to have fulfilling work that paid enough to live on--a lot of them would choose to. When we all do better, we all do better. The events of the last couple of years, and actually the last couple of decades, should illustrate clearly that the fuck-you-I-got-mine approach isn't working.
Old 01-02-22, 01:53 AM
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Re: Minimum wage discussion thread

Originally Posted by Vibiana View Post
the oft-unspoken idea, sometimes buttressed by some religions, that people are inherently worthless unless they can work, and that the nature of that work defines their total worth as people.
If I say “What is Elon Musk worth?” most of the time people will answer that he’s worth $274 billion, or whatever Forbes calculates is the net value of the assets our legal system has given him property rights over.

The reality, though, is Musk is worth the same thing as everyone else. By one measure, he’s a bag of meat that will rot away within the century, worth absolutely nothing. By another measure, he’s a unique human being, with thoughts and feelings nobody else will ever have, and he’s priceless to those with whom he has a relationship. All of that is just as true for you and me and the homeless guy on the corner as it is for Musk.

I get why we have a free market economy and wage labor and all of that, and nobody has figured out a better alternative. But the way we conflate “earning potential” with “worth” is downright toxic.
Old 01-02-22, 07:53 AM
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Re: Minimum wage discussion thread

As these corporations make billions and billions, I’m pretty shocked at the defense of them paying employees MW.

Taco Bell has a net worth of 4 billion dollars by selling $3.00 tacos. At this point are they making more on the taco or not having to pay their employees reasonably? And they are owned by Yum! Brands that has a net worth of 40 billion. I didn’t even bother looking up Walmart or McDonalds.

I guess if you really want to talk about that mom and pop shop that is lucky to do a $100,000 in sales and want to hire their Niece that is in HS to help on weekends and doing inventory we can. Maybe. I guess.

But this notion of multibillion dollar corporations doing it…..it seems a bit like a scam.
Old 01-02-22, 10:16 AM
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Re: Minimum wage discussion thread

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
But the way we conflate “earning potential” with “worth” is downright toxic.
This is hard to overstate. American society generally uses income/wealth as a proxy for so much about a person, from work ethic to intelligence to contribution to society to the overall value of their life. If you’re poor, many view you as deficient in at least some of those areas and if you’re rich, you’re generally assumed to be exceptional across all of them. We’ve deeply bought into the myth that we’re an efficient and effective meritocracy with cash being the chief metric. It’s gross, myopic and absurd, whether demonizing the poor as lazy or lapping up the ‘wisdom’ of someone who’s financially successful.
Old 01-02-22, 11:42 AM
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Re: Minimum wage discussion thread

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
If I say “What is Elon Musk worth?” most of the time people will answer that he’s worth $274 billion, or whatever Forbes calculates is the net value of the assets our legal system has given him property rights over.

The reality, though, is Musk is worth the same thing as everyone else. By one measure, he’s a bag of meat that will rot away within the century, worth absolutely nothing. By another measure, he’s a unique human being, with thoughts and feelings nobody else will ever have, and he’s priceless to those with whom he has a relationship. All of that is just as true for you and me and the homeless guy on the corner as it is for Musk.

I get why we have a free market economy and wage labor and all of that, and nobody has figured out a better alternative. But the way we conflate “earning potential” with “worth” is downright toxic.
A-to-the-M-F-in-men to this.

Also, businesses are generally going to do everything in their power to keep costs down, and the one thing that is most in their control to do so is control wages and benefits.
Old 01-02-22, 02:11 PM
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Re: Minimum wage discussion thread

Originally Posted by Vibiana View Post
The problem with wages isn't just that they're so low--it's that, as others have pointed out, it's become a commonplace practice for employers to only hire part time so they don't have to offer benefits. Depending on the kind of work, it's not always possible for a person to combine two jobs successfully, particularly when neither one of them will provide things like health insurance coverage or paid time off. Yet conservatives will argue that working two jobs is a perfectly acceptable expectation of people working in the service sector.
Thank you for reminding us of the point that we jumped past in this discussion. A livable wage is more than just dollars and why the discussion should be about more than just "$15 minimum wage."

One of the things I noticed when I went to Mississippi is that a large percentage of my co-workers worked second jobs. Now, Mississippi is notoriously the lowest paid state in the union for teachers, so I assumed it was because they needed more money. I contemplated a second job to help me pay bills, especially since I am contributing to two households while on this adventure. I looked at the "side hustles" that so many of my counterparts were taking part in, and I quickly discovered a fact. They aren't working these other jobs for supplementary income; teaching is the side hustle. They are teaching for the health and retirement benefits. Most of the teachers I work with are making much more than their teaching salary with their side-hustles, but there are no benefits with those jobs.
Old 01-02-22, 02:19 PM
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Re: Minimum wage discussion thread

Originally Posted by Draven View Post
I think it’s pretty clear and widely accepted in this country that “livable wage” means for 40 hours of work.
Draven, I would hope so, but I wouldn't take that for granted. Like I said, I don't view slinging burgers at McDonalds as a job that begs to provide a livable wage for somebody to work full time. Nonetheless, it has become that for some people and since McDonalds makes as much money as they do, I am not opposed to it paying a livable wage. That said, how do you translate "livable wage" to the person who only can/wants to work 10-20 hours per week? If we want the person working 40 hours (or more) per week to make a good living, what does that say for the part-time person? Should they be paid the same or not? Should the reliable full-time person depending on this to pay their bills and raise their family be compensated better than the college student who can't come in Friday night because his girlfriend won't let him? Is the hour of labor from a high school student between 6pm and 8pm on Wednesday worth more or less than the full-time employee giving you their entire weekend?

I think you really do have to separate those things (and do something for both). A livable wage (as Vibiana reminded us) is about more than an hourly rate. That is the point I am trying to get at, even if I did it poorly. Minimum wage and livable wage are NOT the same thing.
Old 01-02-22, 02:25 PM
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Re: Minimum wage discussion thread

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
If I say “What is Elon Musk worth?” most of the time people will answer that he’s worth $274 billion, or whatever Forbes calculates is the net value of the assets our legal system has given him property rights over.
This is one of the areas I find myself becoming more and more of a curmudgeon these days. "Celebrities" and the worth we place on them ... whether they are rich brats who bought their way to success as CEOs or they are social platform attention seekers who barter in clicks and likes or they are politicians who think they should be social platform attention seekers who equate votes to clicks and likes ... they have no value to me.
Old 01-03-22, 01:15 PM
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Re: Minimum wage discussion thread

Originally Posted by Draven View Post
I think it’s pretty clear and widely accepted in this country that “livable wage” means for 40 hours of work.
Is it?

Problem with this logic is less and less places offer 40hrs anymore so they don’t have to pay benefits.
Old 01-03-22, 01:41 PM
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Re: Minimum wage discussion thread

Originally Posted by Eric F View Post
Is it?

Problem with this logic is less and less places offer 40hrs anymore so they don’t have to pay benefits.
Oh, I understand the shitty tactics businesses use to avoid supporting their employees, but I think for the purposes of discussion, the 40-hour-week is pretty typical outside of the service industry (which is really what we're talking about with minimum wage) so that's the baseline we're using.

There was a stretch where my brother worked as a manager for a convenience store and made as much money as I did with my "legitimate" career, so it's possible to hit those numbers in those industries if the company wants to.
Old 01-03-22, 02:51 PM
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Re: Minimum wage discussion thread

Originally Posted by cultshock View Post
In my experience, the idea that a minimum wage shouldn't be a livable wage is a uniquely American attitude among first world countries, and sadly I can't say that I'm the least bit surprised.
For context:

Top 20 Countries with the highest minimum wage in 2020 (US$):

  1. Australia - $14.54
  2. Luxembourg - $13.67
  3. New Zealand - $13.18
  4. Monaco - $11.88
  5. Ireland - $11.54
  6. France - $11.46
  7. United Kingdom $11.37
  8. Netherlands - $11.21
  9. Belgium - $11.06
  10. Germany - $10.68
  11. San Marino - $10.55
  12. Canada - $10.33
  13. South Korea - $8.99
  14. Israel - $8.17
  15. Japan - $7.52
  16. Spain - $7.30
  17. United States $7.25
  18. Andorra - $6.72
  19. Slovenia - $5.84
  20. Taiwan - $5.26
These are all first world countries and none have a minimum wage that even hits the oft-cited/desired $15/hour mark, at least not in 2020. I don't quote this data to dispute your point as there is obviously a lot of truth to it, but someone working 40 hours/week at $11.46 in Paris, $10.68 in Frankfurt, or $7.52 in Osaka is still below what many would define as a "living wage" in the U.S., even with all the other societal benefits that the citizens of most of these countries get that we as Americans do not automatically get.

Which begs the ultimate question: What exactly is a "living wage"?

I spent a fair amount of time Googling it and one thing I did not find was any consistency on a definition and/or definitions that relied on nebulous terms like "relative comfort".

I find myself half-agreeing with Kenbuzz on this issue. I do think we have some rather unrealistic notions on what a "living wage" is or can reasonably be. It is untenable, impractical and frankly fanciful to expect some guy flipping burgers at McDonalds to be able to keep himself and his family of four in "relative comfort" on this wage alone, even if we dramatically improve the social safety net (which we obviously should), On the other hand, should he be able to achieve "relative comfort" for only himself at this wage? Personally, I think he should be able to and, as I noted in the Memes thread, minimum wages need to be adjusted by locality at the very least using wage tables that the Federal government already has and uses for government pay if not something more comprehensive.
Old 01-03-22, 02:56 PM
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Re: Minimum wage discussion thread

When some cities necessitate 80k a year to afford rent on a 1-bedroom apartment it becomes tricky. One size does not always fit all, which is a big issue in large societies.
Old 01-03-22, 03:28 PM
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Re: Minimum wage discussion thread

Originally Posted by Kurt D View Post
When some cities necessitate 80k a year to afford rent on a 1-bedroom apartment it becomes tricky. One size does not always fit all, which is a big issue in large societies.
Exactly, but this also begs the follow-up question: Is being able to afford the rent on a 1-bedroom a prerequisite for a "living wage"?
Old 01-03-22, 03:41 PM
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Re: Minimum wage discussion thread

Originally Posted by jfoobar View Post
Is being able to afford the rent on a 1-bedroom a prerequisite for a "living wage"?
Is it a living wage if you can't afford a place to live in?

My off-the-cuff definition for a living wage would cover rent, utilities, food, and transportation. Not to say that the transportation is anything sexy or that it's a posh apartment, but something other than a fleabag motel 40 miles away or ramen for dinner every night.
Old 01-03-22, 04:07 PM
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Re: Minimum wage discussion thread

Originally Posted by jfoobar View Post
Exactly, but this also begs the follow-up question: Is being able to afford the rent on a 1-bedroom a prerequisite for a "living wage"?
Yes. Easy answer.
Old 01-03-22, 04:10 PM
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Re: Minimum wage discussion thread

Originally Posted by Adam Tyner View Post
Is it a living wage if you can't afford a place to live in?
So the millions of people who either have roommates, live in some other form of group/shared housing, or even live in a studio apartment don't have a place to live in?
Old 01-03-22, 04:48 PM
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Re: Minimum wage discussion thread

Originally Posted by jfoobar View Post
So the millions of people who either have roommates, live in some other form of group/shared housing, or even live in a studio apartment don't have a place to live in?
By the recent definition given, a living wage is unattainable. It could never happen.

The target is not stationary.
Old 01-03-22, 04:49 PM
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Re: Minimum wage discussion thread

Originally Posted by jfoobar View Post
So the millions of people who either have roommates, live in some other form of group/shared housing, or even live in a studio apartment don't have a place to live in?
Ok studio then. I thought the point you were making with the "1-bedroom apartment" was a person living on their own.
Old 01-03-22, 05:19 PM
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Re: Minimum wage discussion thread

Originally Posted by jfoobar View Post
Exactly, but this also begs the follow-up question: Is being able to afford the rent on a 1-bedroom a prerequisite for a "living wage"?
According to the 50s American Dream, a single income should be able to support home ownership, a spouse, and three kids!
Old 01-03-22, 05:21 PM
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Re: Minimum wage discussion thread

Originally Posted by Draven View Post
Ok studio then. I thought the point you were making with the "1-bedroom apartment" was a person living on their own.
Ditto.
Old 01-03-22, 07:13 PM
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Re: Minimum wage discussion thread

Obviously, minimum wages would be different in different areas of the country, since it's a lot cheaper for me to live here in Kansas City than it would be in Boston, San Francisco, New York, or Seattle. But in the final analysis, if the purpose of a job is to make a living--and most people aren't independently wealthy and just looking to fill their days--that job needs to pay enough that a person living in the area the job originates from can reasonably afford shelter WITHOUT sharing or using a government voucher; food WITHOUT receiving food stamps; transportation (some more expensive areas also have good mass transit systems, so that could be a factor); and the other necessities of life such as clothing, health care, dental and vision care, and so forth.

If a job doesn't offer enough of a salary for that, why take it? People having hissy fits because Starbucks closes at 5 PM or whatever aren't thinking it through. Those jobs pay shit and people are tired of making shit. And before someone asks--yes, I have known people to work for less than they're worth, or to go part time. I'm one of them. For the last year and a half I've been voluntarily working a 32 hour week, which loses me a few hundred every payday but still includes the full benefits I had at 40 hours. I'm doing that because I can afford to. If my company were to demand it of me, that would be different.
Old 01-03-22, 07:39 PM
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Re: Minimum wage discussion thread

Originally Posted by Adam Tyner View Post
something other than a fleabag motel 40 miles away or ramen for dinner every night.
It gets tricky with all the add-ons, though. Egg, extra chashu, black garlic oil…. $15/hr may not be enough.
Old 01-04-22, 02:41 AM
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Re: Minimum wage discussion thread

Originally Posted by jfoobar View Post
For context:



These are all first world countries and none have a minimum wage that even hits the oft-cited/desired $15/hour mark, at least not in 2020. I don't quote this data to dispute your point as there is obviously a lot of truth to it, but someone working 40 hours/week at $11.46 in Paris, $10.68 in Frankfurt, or $7.52 in Osaka is still below what many would define as a "living wage" in the U.S., even with all the other societal benefits that the citizens of most of these countries get that we as Americans do not automatically get.

Which begs the ultimate question: What exactly is a "living wage"?

I spent a fair amount of time Googling it and one thing I did not find was any consistency on a definition and/or definitions that relied on nebulous terms like "relative comfort".

I find myself half-agreeing with Kenbuzz on this issue. I do think we have some rather unrealistic notions on what a "living wage" is or can reasonably be. It is untenable, impractical and frankly fanciful to expect some guy flipping burgers at McDonalds to be able to keep himself and his family of four in "relative comfort" on this wage alone, even if we dramatically improve the social safety net (which we obviously should), On the other hand, should he be able to achieve "relative comfort" for only himself at this wage? Personally, I think he should be able to and, as I noted in the Memes thread, minimum wages need to be adjusted by locality at the very least using wage tables that the Federal government already has and uses for government pay if not something more comprehensive.
Of the countries higher than US how many have a single payer/universal health insurance? How many have mandatory paid sick leave, child care services, etc, etc.

Cash in hand is but one benefit. And “living” is more than rent.

Regarding your McDonalds example, what is the net worth of the company? Based on that, would they struggle to pay employees more?

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