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Aug 04 2013

The Daily Show on the minimum wage battle

Jon Oliver was on fire in this series of three clips dealing with the strikes by fast-food workers who are trying to get the minimum wages raised from the current $7.25 an hour (which works out to about $15,000 per year for a 40 hour week) to a more realistic $15. Of course this is generating huge amounts of protests by the very same people who think that raising taxes on the rich, even the top 1%, would create enormous hardship on the wealthy. I don’t know if it was ever truly the case that minimum wage fast food jobs were exclusively for adolescents to earn some pocket money but it is clearly no longer true. These jobs have become primary ones for adults and they deserve to have a living wage.

It really, really irks me when well-off people talk about how paying terrible wages is somehow a good thing, either for the economy or for the poor people themselves as if raising the minimum wage will give people such a luxurious lifestyle that it will result in them voluntarily choosing to not aspire to other jobs. The tumbrils cannot come soon enough for people with such views.

There is one and only one advantage that I can see for people being poor and that is if it is just for a short time and especially when they are young. It will bring them into contact with other poor people and help them realize that they are not that different from them, and they will also understand what it is like to live on almost nothing and worry about where the next meal is coming from or whether you can pay the rent.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

(These clips aired on August 1, 2013. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post.)

8 comments

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  1. 1
    smflex

    Raising the minimum wage is just the first step in creating a more just society and restoring the middle class. The media focus has been on the effect on people currently making minimum wage but other wages must raise as well. Someone currently making 12.50 per hour will need a raise too. Then those people may not be willing to work for the new minimum wage because their current jobs require experience etc. I currently make 15.00 per hour and my job requires a bachelor’s degree. My employer can’t reasonably expect me to do what I do for minimum wage. If I get a raise then my superiors will need a raise too. Et cetera, et cetera.

  2. 2
    Pen

    Agreed with a #1 but the fact is that the higher you get the more people must accept a small or no increase. It’s the huge discrepancy between low and high wages that’s responsible for many social ills.

  3. 3
    Acolyte of Sagan

    From the OP:

    It really, really irks me when well-off people talk about how paying terrible wages is somehow a good thing, either for the economy or for the poor people themselves as if raising the minimum wage will give people such a luxurious lifestyle that it will result in them voluntarily choosing to npt (sic. Mano, where’s you’re spellcheck when you need it?) aspire to other jobs.

    The other tacit implication being that those whose abilities for whatever reason don’t extend beyond the most menial or repetitive of jobs somehow don’t deserve to live above the breadline.

  4. 4
    Acolyte of Sagan

    memo to self; always proo fread, especially when correcting somebody else. ‘your’, not ‘you’re’.

  5. 5
    Mano Singham

    I corrected it. Thanks.

    Isn’t it annoying when you correct someone and then make a mistake while doing so? I don’t know how many times it has happened to me. I think there must be some kind of universal law that says: “In the process of correcting someone’s spelling or grammar, you will make a similar mistake.”

  6. 6
    Nathaniel Frein

    It seems to me that if you start paying a person enough to survive on one job, then for every person working two jobs, you can now have two people working one job each. Ergo, unemployment drop. Further, I suspect that if you start paying people a living wage, the quality and amount of their output will improve. Menial jobs are not inherently demoralizing, and are often the jobs that must be done in society. A menial job that pays a pittance, on the other hand, is what breaks a spirit.

    But none of that puts more money into offshore accounts.

  7. 7
    Acolyte of Sagan

    That’s Sod’sLaw in a nutshell.

  8. 8
    AsqJames

    As well as being mentally/spiritually demoralising to work for such negligible rewards, and thinking about the McDonalds recommended budget which required a second 35 hr job on top of the primary 40 hr one, working 75 hours a week (perhaps on top of housework and looking after children/elderly relatives) is physically draining to the point where you’re unlikely to be as productive as you might otherwise be.

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