Minimum Wage – or How to Build a Caste System

Minimum wage, I mean really, why is it not called “starting wage?” This new name would open up a much more positive approach to the entire discussion of minimum wage.  Minimum wage comes across as minimalist thinking for that group of citizens who make it possible for us to have a $1.00 burger and acquire products below the price they can be produced for in this country.

The minimum wage discussion is not about people at all but instead is about profits. As a country we have allowed the entry point into our earning society to become a negative experience for many. It’s time for a change.

By definition, minimum wage establishes a caste system in our country – it determines what a person is worth, capable of and what that person’s prospects for the future might be. In the land of opportunity this caste system, minimum wage way of thinking, I argue, actually enslaves people. It never really provides them with a chance to improve their lot in life.

We need to think about it.  We as consumers are so pleased to find bargains that we rarely give a second thought as to how these bargains are achieved. How is it possible for me to acquire this item so inexpensively? Retail chains and fast food outlets may pass on some cost reduction via supplier programs, yet, when it all comes down to the bottom line, the cost of labor is one of the most targeted areas for financial adjustments.

Anecdotally, it seems that the big box companies and the fast food chains have experienced significant growth as of late. Good for them! But is underpaying people part of the success formula? Is holding back employees’ lives so the chances of them improving their lot remain very low, the right plan? We as a society are as much to blame as anyone.

For good and justifiable reasons, we want our safety and protection but are loathe to pay more to those providing it. We want our kids to get the best possible education but are not willing to raise taxes to pay for better teachers, technology and outcomes. This mind set is one of the cascading factors that keeps the topic of minimum wage at such a low level.

It is ironic that we want to be served and catered to, and we want things to be priced right without thinking about what that means to the minimum wage worker providing that service. Minimum wage is a sad trap from which many never escape. The stigma of being paid at minimum wage has such a negative effect on confidence and pride that it makes no sense that we accept this low standard being supported by our government. We need to consider that paying $.10 more for a burger or $.25 more for a pack of batteries is all that stands between people struggling mightily at the minimum wage level versus earning a good wage and having an opportunity to advance themselves further in life. We are talking about pennies to help lives.

I encourage all reading this to get in front of the issue and work steadfastly in helping our nation achieve a new mindset!

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