The Fallacy of Minimum Wage

fallacy of minimum wage - childBefore beginning I'd like to apologize in advance.  Today's intent isn't to leave you feeling bad for realizing what your server has to go through when you make their job difficult.  Nor is it to open your mind to sympathize for those who might have it more difficult than you.  My goal isn't even to encourage you to ask you boss for that raise, either.  I apologize - this isn't the socially uplifting piece you might want or expect.  This is a blunt and straight-to-the-point article about the logistics and fallacies surrounding a minimum wage job and why the minimum wage should not be raised with the hope to shake the foundation of those living "Just Because" lifestyles and inspire a shift in mentality regarding minimum wage 'careers'.  Despite my underlying purpose of education and my best intentions, I know this article will still offend.  I realize that.  It's a touchy subject and those struggling to survive on minimum wage jobs might feel like is an attack on them.  I assure you this is not my intent.  My intent is to encourage self-growth and the pursuit of something greater.  But before getting offended, please think about my argument and consider the points I raise.  I'll do my best to present them in a fair light.

But before I begin, let's start on a good foot.  While the last paragraph might have set the tone to make me sound like some sort of Scrooge McDuck, I really do see the value in minimum wage jobs.  It was in my first job (working for minimum wage) that I learned the traits I needed to become the person I am today!  It was there that I learned to hustle, interact with adults, develop a sense of pride and confidence in my work, and (most importantly) realize how dissatisfied I was with such little responsibility and respect!  That minimum wage job opened up connections and opportunities that otherwise would have never been there and paved the way to everything that I've accomplished today!

And that's because I got out of it what I was supposed to - experience.  See, contrary to popular belief, these minimum wage jobs aren't intended to make money, support a family, or live an "adult" life on.  And while the government ensures the minimum wage is at a rate where it's technically possible to survive this way, the real purpose of a minimum wage job is to gain the experience needed to develop as an individual and professional, all while developing a sense of work ethic and demonstrating your morals.  Not make money.

In here lies the first fallacy.

 

The Fallacy of Minimum Wage

People go to work to make money.  If money wasn't involved, not many would be there.  Therefore people consider jobs not as a source of enjoyment, fulfillment, or growth, but as a means to make money.  The purpose of a job is to make money.  However, this doesn't extend to minimum wage jobs!  If the purpose of a minimum wage job was to make money then why is the pay as low as legally possible?  It seems too simple to be a valid point, but it's BECAUSE it's so simple that everyone can see the fallacy!

Working a minimum wage job is like starting a video game.  You might grind on boars in the beginning for your first couple levels, but the boars aren't there to give you riches or a great challenge, but instead are there to teach you how to play the game and prepare you for something more difficult and rewarding!

A minimum wage job is the 'boar' of our world!  Our 'boar' is here to teach us how to play the game of life and to simply show others that we want to play!

And other seeing that desire is important.  Think about it - when a client is unsure of what decision to make, they trust the decision of someone experienced who they believe knows what's best for them.  When a manager has a crises on their hands and can't tell everyone what to do, they know that the employee with experience and a good ethical background will make the right decision.  When a company needs employees, they target those they can trust to positively represent the company!  Much like the well-prepared adventurer, when you're experienced and trustworthy, you can succeed anywhere!

That's what the minimum wage job is there for - it serves as a way to hone people skills, gaining the experience that others desire and that you need to flourish!  People are angry that it's difficult to for adults with families, mortgages, debts, and responsibilities to survive on a minimum wage salary.  But they aren't intended for adults with families, mortgages, debts, and responsibilities!  They're meant for youth, trying to become adults, and for those in transition phases who need to get back to their roots!

Among millennials, a common concern seems to reside in wealth disparity and the fear that people are being oppressed.  I agree - this is important, but it doesn't stretch to raising the minimum wage!  Minimum wage jobs already provide enough for anyone to survive on (with some effort) - they just aren't enough for people to survive the way they want.  For most people, this is the case regardless of their pay.

But to even to throw away the idea that boosting minimum wage wouldn't make everything more expensive (completely negating the impact on workers of raising the minimum wage after the immediately short-term) there's a good reason why they shouldn't be raised - the fallacy of minimum wage just doesn't make sense!

 

We're Paid Not for the Work, But for the Responsibility We Take

If your childhood was like mine, you had chores.  I folded clothes, vacuumed the carpet, cleaned my room, washed windows and dishes, fed the dog, whatever my parents wanted - you get the idea.  Notice a common theme?  Every single one of these tasks is a real minimum wage job!  As a kid, I did them without pay (though I did have free rent and board going for me, so there's that) and I did a satisfactory job or I was doing it again.  Do you really believe that if I had been using these skills 40 hours a week, I should have been making enough money to buy my own food, a car, house, and still have extra to spend or save?  At the age of seven?!  

But this is how it works.

And to say that it makes sense to pay fully-capable adults well to do a job that any child could do is just another fallacy!  The people who intend to work a minimum wage job their entire life are condemned to it not because "that's just how it is", but because they willingly turn down the opportunities to gain experience!  That's why there's wealth disparity!  For whatever reason, the people who rise to the top are willing to take advantage of everyday opportunities while the people skimming by on bottom turn them down (not realizing the weight that each decision has on the course of their future life!)

As a high school student working my first minimum wage job, I thought I was doing pretty good.  That didn't last long.  

I saw one of my classmates working for himself mowing lawns.  While I worked for 9 months and managed to not spend $2,000 on my at-the-time girlfriend, he had made over twice what I had to buy bright red Corvette... in a third of the time!  I took what was easily given to me, turning down the opportunities I could have pursued, but he didn't.  While I was standing around feeling the pool's temperature, he just jumped in - walking door to door with his mower.  And the universe rewarded his drive - at a rate of  roughly $50/hr!

He took advantage of just one of the COUNTLESS opportunities around us!  But to ONLY reside in what the dice of life hand us, then be unsatisfied and say that the game is rigged, is unfair to the universe!

To generate value (of any type, not just monetary value) you need to be a person of value first!  Sure, every person is special, I'm not debating that.  But when I took my minimum wage job, I admit it - I was not a person of value.  Having learned from the experiences I faced there and gaining some value, I came back to work for the same company 9 months later with experience and a sense of trustworthiness - and now I was making $11/hour!  Another 3 months of experience and I was up to $13/hour!  Then when I found myself unable to get a job, I took to self-employment averaging $35/hour!

And these are the opportunities that every single person has!  Yes, they take work and determination and time, but they're what makes struggle worth overcoming!  If you aren't attracting the value you want, it's probably because you aren't bringing the value needed to the table!

Just think about supply and demand.

A child can fold clothes.  A child can carry plates.  A child can drive a car (once they have their driver's license).  There is little responsibility or value in any of these tasks because they are so simple that anyone can do them!  The supply is practically infinite!  The demand, however, is limited to however many minimum wage jobs are available at a given time.

Large supply, low demand = low value.
Small supply, high demand = large value.  

To raise the minimum wage is not to fix the problem (that people have to worry about their money), it only fixes a symptom of the problem!  The real, underlying issue is that people become complacent and stop growing!  If all it takes is child's mind is enough to succeed in society, then why is it so difficult for some adults to do so?  If that lawn-mowing teenager from my youth could generate his own worth, then why can't anyone?  He wasn't some financial genius - he just went out, applied himself, and made it happen!

Too many people idle in their lives, waiting for the universe to give them what they want.  Often times, the universe instead gives them what they deserve!  For those who refuse to learn and grow, the universe continues to reinforce the life they lead.  But for those who continue to strive and gain value - the universe will ALWAYS give them a shot at something better!  Because that's what they deserve!

Regardless of your income, I URGE you to take advantage of the opportunities life throws our way.  Find your strengths and build on them!  Find your weaknesses and eliminate them!  Do what it takes to become a better person and the universe will always reward you.  Regardless of your current pay, regardless of the minimum wage, the universe will reward you.  It might sound crazy, but this is how the world really works - you get what you give!  The key to success (regardless of whatever that means to you) comes with your individual value and the people you impact.  With time, everything will be given back to you tenfold!

That's the real message I'm trying to convey here.

 

Readers, was I too harsh?  Have I trivialized wealth disparity and the working class or is my tough love the kick-in-the-teeth needed to get those living "Just Because" lifestyles to snap out of it and take control of their futures?  I certainly hope so.  Let me know you thoughts.

 

-Phi

 


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