A shitty conversation, with the guy I’m fighting for

Yesterday, on the way to my back “procedure” appointment, my husband and I almost had an argument. We didn’t have one because I just eventually shut up when I know the argument is pointless. He keeps talking, but I stay quiet.

Believe it or not, my husband is actually AGAINST raising the minimum wage. No matter how many times we have to go without, he is still against it. He feels like raising the minimum wage to meet the current level of inflation is wrong.

FYI, I don’t support ludicrous raises to amounts like $15 an hour for burger flipping or item scanning, but I do support the simple inflation based raise of $10.74 an hour. Even if people in low wage jobs were still only able to get part time work, like most do now, this would still be a substantial increase for them. At a mere 20 hours a week that’s the difference between $214 (gross) compared to $145 (gross) per week. It still leaves them with a poverty wage, but at least the wage isn’t as desperate as $7.25.

Here are his arguments against it, and my rebuttals.

His problem:

You can’t raise it that much. It would be a slap in the face to people who already earn close to that for harder jobs.

My problem:

He doesn’t realize that his wage is based on the minimum wage. By basing his wages against the current minimum wage, you are already getting that slap in the face. As I’ve said before, devaluing my wage to only $7.25 allows your wage to be devalued just as much.

Basically, if you do a job that is dangerous (Like say, working more than 20 feet off the ground, directly under live electric wires, while covered in various bits of metal safety equipment, and carrying a load of conductors near your genitals) your pay is still based on how much above the current minimum wage that job is worth. So if the minimum wage is only $7.25 an hour, all they have to do is double that and you feel like you’re getting a deal.

But you aren’t. My husband works for a major communications company. Like, this company has been around forever, level major. According to CNN, it would take 291 yearly salaries, like my husband’s, to make one of the CEO of that communications company’s salary. And that’s nothing compared to the 793 salaries it takes to make one Mike Duke (WalMart) salary.

The man makes 291 times what the guy risking life and genitals is making.

That’s right, I said that the guy who sits in an air conditioned office, flies around in a private jet, and essentially just holds the rudder on a company ship that’s been successfully sailing on it’s own for decades, is considered 291 times more important that the grunt dangling off a wire during storms, heat, cold, and whatever else, so that you can still get the naughty channels.

So really, who’s slapping whom in the face?

His Problem:

The job isn’t worth more than that.

My Problem:

I actually have a few problems with this one. The conversation about it usually goes like this…

Me: but why isn’t it worth more?

Him: Because it isn’t.

Me: But why?

Him: Because it fucking isn’t that’s why!

I’ve never been able to accept this as an answer. If you can’t explain why something is the way it is, then does it truly have to be that way?

At one point, enslaving your fellow man was something that no one was going to do anything to change simply because “That’s just the way it is”. Women  weren’t considered more than the property of their father or husband during several past (and current) points in history simply because “That’s just the way it is”.

Saying that your going to keep doing something pointless, simply because that’s the way it’s always been done, is just stupid.

In addition, the only reason that the job is considered to be worth so little is because the minimum wage is so low already. Raising it to $10.74 wouldn’t make it any less of a low wage job, it would only make the wage more livable, and less desperate. $10.74 is still too low to be considered successful. It’s still nothing more than a passing wage. A starter wage. The last inflation based minimum wage hike was in 1968…going from $1.40 to a staggering $1.60.  The proposed wage hike, to somewhere between $9-$11 an hour, is still only the same $1.60 adjusted for CPI based inflation.

Basically what this means is that in 1968 one dollar and sixty cents could buy you one hour of labor for a shitty, bottom of the barrel, level job. Now, after calculating inflation, that same shitty, bottom of the barrel job, is worth $10.74 an hour.

This doesn’t mean that anyone thinks the job is less shitty. Or that the job is somehow worth more. Or that the job has somehow become more important. It only means that inflation has increased the price of paying someone to do the shitty job, the same way inflation has increased the price of everything else.

So why don’t people realize this? Because of my argument above. My neighbor does a specialized and difficult labor based job. He makes $10 an hour for it. Instead of thinking

“Hey, if inflation puts the minimum wage job at more than I already make, how come my pay is so shitty?”

They think:

“Hey, I make less than that so they can’t have that much more because my job is harder.”

This is the problem with basing wages for more difficult, and more specialized, jobs off of an already unreasonably low wage. Because of that, everyone is already making significantly less than what they should. But no one realizes it.

Why does my uncle, who is a retired Navy Veteran, has an MS in computer systems management, a BS in business management, and graduate degrees in Vietnamese and Russian, and enough security clearance to work for any department in the US Government, still have to work two jobs….because his worth is only based on how much more than $7.25 an hour he should get.

His Problem:

It’s supposed to be a shitty job anyway, you can’t expect more for it.

My Problem:

This is another side of it that always devolves into the “because!” reason being thrown around without any substance after I ask “why?”

First of all, this argument usually centers around the idea that you are supposed to think the job sucks so that you won’t do it anymore. But someone is still going to have to do that job.

And you don’t know why the person is doing that job. So how can you just arbitrarily say that they should move up. Why should someone feel forced to do something they don’t want to do anyway. And being good at one part of a job doesn’t mean that you will be good at another part of the job. If you aren’t good at it, you risk losing it. Why are we forced to take that risk?

Say you’re really good at pulling a lever in a factory. Like good enough to be the best damned lever puller in the business. Good enough that other companies have offered you jobs pulling levers for them after seeing how well you can do it. Your lever pulling abilities have increased production and productivity, not to mention industry efficiency. You know you aren’t getting rich at it; but you have pride in knowing that you do your job well, you improve the quality of the product being made by your company, and you can basically support your family. You’re not living well, but you are making a living and have the pride of knowing that.

But that’s not how it is. It’s how it used to be. But it’s not how it is now.

It used to be that if you found a job, or profession, that you did well. A job that you did well enough to improve the quality of what your employer was providing. Good enough that you were consistently increasing efficiency and productivity. Not only were you allowed to stay in that position, if you wanted to, but you would be rewarded for loyalty and a job well done. The company WANTED you to stay in a position that you were good at because it was best for them and for you.

But not anymore. Now, once you’ve become a great lever puller, you’re supposed to move up.

But no one realizes why this is an employment death sentence in many cases because you are now set up for the company to not have to pay a higher wage for long since they’ll likely be able to fire you shortly.

This time I’ll give an example from my own wheelhouse. I worked for an auto parts store in Kentucky for a year. In that year, we had three managers. I was hired by the newest manager only two weeks after she took over the store…which she did after the previous manager handed the keys to the kid on shift at the time and just didn’t come back.

She was a great manager, as far as her employees were concerned. She was supposed to be awarded bonuses for increasing efficiency…meaning that she had to keep the fewest number of people possible working in the store on each day. However, she was only given so many man-hours to use each day. The company kept these staggeringly low. Like no one could actually accomplish any task during the course of a day low. So she was always going over and loosing her bonuses because of it. When they threatened her over it, she started doing the other jobs herself. I personally watched her work from open to close one day, then keep working until 3 am, then come back and open the store the next morning. The rest of that week was spent working open to close every single day. Since she was salary, this was the equivalent of her working for roughly $4.00 an hour that week…I know, we decided to do the math one day. Why? Because her regional manager told her flat out that, as a manager, if she had to work every shift by herself that was what she was going to do to keep her job. They wouldn’t give her any more hours, or people, and she just needed to suck it up.

She only lasted six months and I still applaud her for making it that long.

She did it because she fell into the same trap as so many others. If you don’t want to move up, if you are happy with where you are and do a good job, that means you are lazy.

Bottom Line

It’s not laziness to expect to be paid on the same level as the rise in inflation. It’s not lazy to do a job that you do well. It’s not laziness to want to work for a living even if it’s a low wage living. Equally, it’s not anything awesome to have a list of degrees longer than your arm and still have to work two jobs. It’s not right for a free country to perpetuate what amounts to serfdom, where the lords of the manor get to say that you don’t deserve anything because you are serfs. It’s not right and it needs to change.

But first you have to get people to realize that something actually needs changing.

And that’s apparently a lot more difficult than I anticipated.


About pynomrah

I like stuff, and things.
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4 Responses to A shitty conversation, with the guy I’m fighting for

  1. halftangible says:

    Raising the minimum wage increases the cost of goods at places that offer the minimum wage, which increases the cost of living, which means you’re right back where you started: barely making ends meet with the money you have. On top of that it slows the economy and eliminates jobs by increasing the cost of each worker. I dunno if you’ve noticed, but we have an extremely low labor force participation (not unemployment, labor force. two different things) at the moment. Making it even more costly to have workers is not going to help, what we need are more jobs.

    Flipping burgers at McDonalds is not meant to be a living wage. The job isn’t worth a living wage because it’s as low-skill as you can possibly get. It’s not complicated.

    Your lever-pulling analogy is difficult to take seriously because it’s /pulling a frakking lever/ -_-

    “If you don’t want to move up, if you are happy with where you are and do a good job, that means you are lazy.”

    I sincerely doubt she was happy with where she was if the situation was as bad as you make it out to be.

    If the wage you have doesn’t satisfy you, demand a raise or find another job. That is your right as a worker, one of the few workers haven’t forked over to unions or their bosses.

    It’s not laziness to expect to be paid well, no. But if you do the minimum work, with minimum experience, with minimum education then why do you want more? If you’re the best ‘damn lever puller in the business’ (seriously, THAT’S the analogy you go with? It’s a lever!) show your boss the other job offers and ask for a raise since you’re in high demand and a living wage. Or find a job that DOESN’T suck!


    • pynomrah says:

      Please follow the links I provided as sources. Especially the one that MIT uses to calculate what your own current living wage should be. You might be surprised. Then feel free to restructure your argument.

      Your current argument says that you are fine with supporting billion dollar corporations who pay their employees so little that the employees have to rely on taxpayer subsidies to meet basic survival needs.

      Essentially, you are saying that you will gladly pay the additional couple of dollars an hour in food stamps yourself…but you won’t support not having to pay that if it means the worker is paid on a level that meets current inflation standards by the company they are actually employed with.


      • halftangible says:

        I have, and briefly skimmed them. None of them address the argument that you can just ASK for more money, nor that the minimum wage drives up the cost of living. You didn’t address a single thing I said and instead chose to make a strawman argument. Hell, you actually point out yourself WHY the minimum wage is a bad thing, and then act like it’s a good thing. I’m done here.

        Thanks for the related article link.


      • pynomrah says:

        If you had actually read the information at the sources I provided, you would have found the answers to your questions.

        The idea behind increasing the minimum wage is not “giving” anyone money. Once you include taxpayer based subsidies they are already getting that amount anyway. Raising the minimum wage simply shifts the responsibility from the taxpayer to the employer instead. It worked in 1938, and again in 1968, and again in the 1980’s, against the same arguments being used now, so why wouldn’t it work today?

        Oh and your own argument about soldiers’ wages is wrong, soldiers don’t work a typical 40 hour week, they work much longer hours, so they get significantly less than minimum wage per hour. you can go here http://usmilitarypaychart.com/2013-military-pay-chart/ to find the actual pay rates. But again, those pay rates are based off of the current minimum wage standard, which is what allows for them to be exceedingly lower than they deserve to be for such a vital service.

        Perhaps actually reading instead of just skimming would have been helpful.


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