Why should full-time jobs that pay a living wage be a privilege?

Some people seem to think the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour (resp. $290/week or $1200/month) is way too high and should not exist.

I'm not even sure if it's enough. Can anyone cover their basic needs such as food, rent, gas or public transportation and other essential needs, let alone have something left to pay for unforeseen medical bills or further education? Are hobbies and visiting family and friends during holidays a privilege in a "first world country"? Should it be a privilege anywhere in the world?

Could you live with being paid that wage (if you can't stay with your parents rent-free and other perks that people get without seeing it as such?) until you retire?

If your answer is "those jobs aren't supposed to be full-time jobs, but rather something you do as a teenager or a student who then have less time for sleep or studying to get good grades to get a well-paying job", then you're basically saying, that it's okay to exploit poor young people who -unlike the rich kids- can't afford not to work while studying and don't have daddy's connections to work part-time in a nice office with a better salary.

If your answer is "those jobs shouldn't even exist, because customers can do it themselves", then you overestimate the willingness of "some" customers to be decent in exchange for lower prices in food or clothing or anything really.

Would you want to leave right away...
Would you want to leave right away...
...or fold the mess other customers left behind?
...or fold the mess other customers left behind?

Bon appétit. Don't forget to clean after yourself... for the next customer.
Bon appétit. Don't forget to clean after yourself... for the next customer.

If you think your time is too valuable for menial tasks like these, realise that someone has to clean the mess others (not you, of course) leave behind for the next customers. These jobs exist for a reason, and they have value.

People who do these jobs don't deserve a bleak life for doing tasks that many think are beneath them. They give up 40 hours of their lives every week for work too.

People don't just need a job to not feel worthless.
People need a job that gives them the dignity of being able to fully support themselves without the help of their parents or the government to not feel worthless.


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  • I agree. A state mandated living wage however doesn’t fix the issue of American capitalism and the flaw of humanity.

    The government should very much meddle in the affairs of private firms.

    America should have welfare available to all of its citizens. We are supposed to be afforded Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, but we can’t even get started with any of those if our bank accounts determine our value.

    I promote general welfare such as Universal Basic Income and Universal Basic Healthcare for those who fit a criteria.

    The workers are the people who propel this country forward and the young are the future. These groups also have a large overlap. We have to make sure the general welfare of each American citizens are met.

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    • I agree with the use of a welfare system for individuals of lower socioeconomic level. However I’m in support of moving it to a more local level and not making it universal and fairly easy to obtain. If you used a universal welfare system available to all citizens, including the rich, the country would be broke within a few decades and people would be living in the streets off of trashcans.

      Your bank account doesn’t determine your value. There are many measures of value. Money is only one of those measures. The great thing about America, is that you get to determine where you want to go and who you want to be. Your character, drive, and capabilities (which are not equal) determine much of your “worth” but, according to the US constitution, those worths and measures cannot compare to your “human worth”.

      People are not created equal, and they’re not placed in equal circumstances. Which is where welfare comes in. But remember you can’t help those who don’t want to be helped.

      This is kind of developing into a circle of thought now lol.

      The government should have, to some extent, some capabilities within private businesses to prevent monopolies, but once you cross the line where the companies become controlled by the government, it becomes mandatory, and is no longer freedom.

      Capitalism is not perfect, but there isn’t a system more enabling of freedom and choice than a free market system.

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    • 4d

      Not sure I agree with an universal basic income, but the rest is spot on.

    • 4d

      Well, just that simple. Have a choice between Section 8 and food stamps if you’re already are apart of those programs or a set amount of money.

      I mean they already offer oil dividends of $1000 to $2000 to Alaskan Residents. I mean, unless there is a better way to distribute wealth to the American people, especially the less fortunate.

      Of course there are plenty of ways to work out the kinks in order to prevent amassing wealth in certain households all things considered.

  • When people doing a full time job pays them less that they can live on, they get forced to turn to the government for help. Welfare funds are paid by the taxpayer and it's not fair on the taxpayer that they have to pay for what the corporations' negligence to their own employees.

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  • Minimum wage jobs are entry level jobs. If someone stays at a minimum wage job their entire life, it probably means that they are lazy and have no ambition. Why should such behavior be rewarded? There are plenty of opportunities for skilled job training if someone wants to do better.

    I don't want to live in a society where everyone gets a participation ribbon and no one ins first prize. Success and survival of the culture means maximizing on our abilities and talents, not rewarding someone who wants to flip burgers at age 65.

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    • 7d

      You do know that life opportunities isn't the same everyone right?

      This kind of mentality just shows how low and lack of empathy some of the customers have when it comes to asking for a service. They come with a lot of prejudice in their minds, thinking people who work this kind of jobs are just there because they are lazy, just makes things very difficult for everyone.

      This is not the 50's anymore. The world changed so you should too.

    • 7d

      @originallm8 Thanks for getting me straightened out. I am deeply indebted to people such as yourself who are willing to enlighten the rest of the world.

    • 6d

      Lol...

  • In Scandinavia, many low-skill service jobs have been automated (like washing cars). Reason? People aren't willing to pay a living wage for them, and workers won't work for less. Scandinavian countries have no minimum wage, but collective agreements exist between industry associations and unions which set minimum rates of pay. So if you don't pay staff well, they'll strike. Sometimes companies have to restructure (e. g. fire some workers and chsnge the job spec of the remaining workers) to meet wage demands, but those workers have unemployment insurance and usually upskill to get better jobs. Amazingly this arrangement between unions and industry bodies which in no way involves the state gets branded communism by Americans.

    I'm not Scandinavian, but I won't get out of bed for less than a living wage. I'm very focused on professional development though, and the need to have skills that employers will pay a premium for. So if you're being paid poorly, ask yourself "what skills are in demand at companies that pay well?" Then go to a community college and learn them.

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    • 4d

      Some people in some countries weren't born lucky, so they can't afford to not go out of bed for less than a living wage. this take was for them.

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    • 4d

      In some countries there is no social security to fall back on or it's not enough, you have to keep working to at least have food. e. g. there are so many homeless people in France right now who have a job, but it doesn't pay enough, so they live on the streets.. in winter! while it's snowing!

    • 3d

      Then unionise.

  • Your essay throws around various straw-man arguments, false dichotomies, etc. ad infinitum, which is ironic given that you've attempted to lay-out a thoroughly articulated (bloviated) premise (i. e. you've written several "paragraphs")... Although, clearly failed to make any rational sense, and I'll tell you why (listed by paragraph):
    1. You've cited the federal min wage, which doesn't take into consideration cost of living, each state has its own minimum wage because of this, which is almost always higher than the federal one.
    2. Yes, doing anything fun/ enjoyable/ etc. is not a right, therefore you could term it a "privilege," which is your first false dichotomy.
    4. "What you're basically saying is..." Is never a sound argument, as it forms an easily beatable "straw-man" argument, i. e. someone with "daddy's connections." Exploitation is generally regarded as a "Marxist" term meant to be linked to INDUSTRY, not service oriented tasks, which don't produce anything, and thus don't "alienate" anyone from their labor. The market decides how much these jobs are worth, meaning a company will pay no more than x, employee will not work for less than y, and wages = the point where x and y intercept.
    5. Many of these jobs will be automated, but there will almost always be a need for cheap labor in regard to cleaning. Once again you've described, and illustrated via your captions, an extreme situation to stress your point, once again forming a straw-man argument, not a comprehensive and well-encompassing one.
    6. Yes, my time is too valuable as I've earned a Masters degree, paid for by two tours in Iraq. Someone had to do it, in the spirit of your prior argument.
    7. "deserve" is once again not a rationally-objective term, as any given pair of individuals will not agree on what's known as "first principles," i. e. what is right, moral, and the "good life"; so, you can't argue what people deserve based on emotion, as we live in a market economy where the level of their skill, i. e. the economic value of their contribution is... (intersection y and x), and paid accordingly.
    8. Read up on the Maslow's hierarchy of needs: you're speaking of self-actualization, which is a "privilege," and beyond basic necessities, which can be obtained on an individual basis at the state minimum wage, which few employers pay (even McDonalds pays more).

    Do you see where you messed up?

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  • Because you don't have a "right" to other peoples money.

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  • 7d

    Not sure if you are complaining that people make messes or that you don't get paid enough for cleaning up after them.

    So, getting a job that gives you dignity and purpose comes for most of us with planning in effort. I find it strange that you say you don't want government help, which is admirable, but then say that the minimum wage needs to be increased by the government. So in essence the wage is falsely inflated beyond the market value... so that is government help, its just a direct form of taxation and redistribution.

    Most people, not all, get the higher paying jobs by planning and working to achieve the skills and expertise to carry out the job function so they can return a higher value and get a higher pay. That isn't privilege or entitlement. That is work in exchange for appropriate reward.

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  • 7d

    This was basically just you whining that for your entry level job where you do nothing that requires education or skill you don’t get paid more. Of course we need people to do these jobs but like you said they’re usually students, if you need more money you need to make sure you worked hard to get an education or specialise a skill through an apprenticeship. Why should we reward people for not working hard to improve?

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  • 3d

    the federal government considers it a priveledge for you to pay taxes and earn a wage, a priveledge for you to drive, and a priveledge for you to enjoy your education untill 12th grade. want to know why? go to Antartica and see!

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  • If minimum wage rose with inflation since inception it would be $35 an hour right now. And before you say that would be hard on business, most businesses would only need to sell 33% more product to maintain profit. There would also be more pride in a job as it pays more than welfare.

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  • Raising minimum wage is never the answer. Company is going to make money somehow. So, you'll either end up paying more for things or those minimum wage jobs will be done away with. Once that happens, you'll be back to square one. New day, same story.

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  • Go ahead and raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. See what happens. Small businesses will shut down. Look what happened to Seattle

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  • 3d

    7.25? oh man. come to Canada. the corporations are wining to the government to stop increasing the minimum wage.

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  • 4d

    I think if we are going to do something like this we need to offset the cost of higher labor for small businesses with something else otherwise you'll just see local businesses in rural areas go bankrupt.
    It also doesn't seem fair to me that someone with no experience and training will make the same as someone with years of experience and training but that's exactly what will happen with this.

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  • what we really need is government regulations to control corporations... they have way too much power over a country

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    • What powers do they have over a country?

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    • @Stripes99 depends where you are
      But corporations have more control than government

      What you might ask? How about the entirety of the economics of the country. Private banks in usa can’t ever go bankrupt and you can't even prison the shareholders pr executives

      2008 obama bail out of 7 billion ring a bell?

    • That reliance on government is precisely the cause of crashes.

      Businesses in this country don’t have more power over the country than the federal government. If you could explain that maybe I would be able to understand your view.

      The consumers control the market and economics of this country, not the businesses.

  • in Seattle the minimum wage is $15/hr which will barely put a roof over your head — you need like $150/hr minimum to live life (as seen on tv)

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  • What is a living wage? You think people working at JC Penney should make $100,000 ?

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  • You have no right to be employed at someone else’s company, and you have no “right” to money you don’t earn.

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    • I don’t understand how paying someone to do something is “exploiting” them.

  • I guess I can see where you are coming from. But what is a "living" wage differs from state to state and county to county. So it is hard to make a federal law about what should be right and fair across the board. Then there are the organizations themselves. Mandating that a company pay some minimum for me, just isn't the way to go. I think the most important thing government can do is mandate that companies pay their employees equally. I worked with a firm that was reprimanded for paying a woman an exceptionally low salary. They were forced to give her a raise to the base salary for her position.

    But other than that, I don't think government should meddle too much in the affairs or private firms.

    For government agencies, sure. . . employees should make a living wage.

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  • Because corporations cannot be trusted to be humane and treat their workers properly.

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  • 7d

    Minimum wage laws just buy votes and raises prices. Congress can’t mandate companies not to lower hours available for work or cut other benefits like medical or stock options to maintain profitability. We all pay for minimum wage hikes through higher prices negating any net-gain in standard of living. We can go full socialism and have congress mandate price fixing across the board. But do we really want to try THAT?

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  • why should an entry level job geared towards kids and students be a loving wage.

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  • Market forces. Employers maximize their profits by keeping labour costs as low as humanly possible. It's just basic capitalism.

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  • Those clothes pictures are from Macy’s aren’t they, the store always looks like that 😂

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  • 7d

    Because, People like me who been privilege to be unemployed for ever.

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  • No way

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  • 7d

    Good take..

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