I live in an area that has decided, mostly via citizen initiatives, that the minimum wage is too low. So they've raised the minimum wage in various places, to somewhere between $11 and $15 per hour. Since the raises are being done on a city-by-city basis it varies, but the old minimum wage, which was one of the highest in the country already at $9.xx/hour is being raised.
When the issue first came up there were a lot of people who basically said the sky would fall if the minimum wage went up. Businesses would shut down, disaster! But the effect over time has been to increase the pay of the lowest paid people, and you know what? That's not a bad thing.
Well, after a couple of years of this, including one city that just went straight to $15/hour, life is pretty much unchanged. Pizzas are still being made, cars are still being rented and sold, houses are being cleaned and, in the case of seatac washington, even your baggage is still being handled at the airport.
As the debate about minimum wage goes national, I hear a lot of people saying something like this:
"...The negative impacts could be especially big in lower-cost rural areas. Raising the minimum wage to $15 is one thing for bigger cities where the cost of living is more expensive; these are the places where the movement has flourished in recent years. But in rural areas, columnist Catherine Rampell has written, "would likely throw many, many more people out of work..." source
Rural areas are areas where it can cost you less to live, but our wage structure is basically seemingly designed to offer workers the absolute minimum wage that can possibly be offered. that is, it is apparently a sin in the business sense to contemplate offering a wage to people that gives them the basic ability to pay their bills, pull even, or even get a little bit ahead.
It comes up over and over again, this concern about the difference in cost of living. Folks, we have a situation where our farms and rural areas need more people, and honestly, if I had a situation where I could be poor and live in a city (where things cost more) or maybe not so poor and live in the country, well, I know where I'd go.
The basic debate we are having here is what 40 hours of hard work entitles someone to. In my belief if you work 40 hours or more a week you should be able to afford a place to live, food on the table, a decent, reliable vehicle and have 10 to 20% extra every month so that you can do what smart people do: Save and invest.
Poor people have all sorts of ways that they lose money. Credit costs them more. Credit cards charge higher rates, payday loan companies charge them horrendous fees. They're more liable to incur bank fees for things like bounced checks, and this sort of situation means that 50% of the households in the USA can't handle a $500.00 surprise bill.
Let me restate that: Most american households don't have $500 to their name. Our business culture has been so successful in taking every penny from these folks that they're broke.
I want people who can afford to buy my pigs, my hay, my beef. I want people who can afford to buy my farm when I retire. I want people to have enough money that $500 isn't an emergency.
Rural areas, more than most, need the full $15/hour wage. And if people who live there do better, well, that'll probably mean that more people will move there. And that's a good thing.
4 weeks ago