I have a saying: Corporations paying minimum wage are basically telling employees that they would pay them less if they could legally do so. Many American workers are making minimum wage or slightly above it. The reality for them is that seven or eight dollars an hour is impossible to truly live off of. Across the country, that barely pays for rent, never mind food, a car note, or car insurance. There is just not enough money there. In the meantime, greedy employers literally make billions on the backs of their workers. And it gets so much worse.
Back in the 70s, a lot of companies outsourced jobs to other countries where they then began to pay those workers 1 or 2 dollars an hour. Meanwhile in America, workers were being laid off by the truckload and benefits were being slashed or dissolved altogether. Workers began to be required to pay their own medical bills as companies opted out of offering those benefits.
Cause and effect can be quite a teacher. Jump ahead more than 30 years and we have today’s job market. Now, I know the official U.S. unemployment rate sits around four percent, but I spend more time listening to economists who place the number closer to 34 percent. That puts a strain on the remaining workers to support a consumer based system that is increasingly collapsing. Malls are closing. Monster retailers are filing bankruptcy and laying off scores of workers. Online models are there but with a greatly reduced workforce. Basically, if Americans are not purchasing and consuming, America is in trouble. People are more likely to hold onto their money rather than spend with abandon like they have in decades past.
Having said that, let’s take another look at those now making minimum wage. In short, they cannot afford to spend frivolously. Minimum wage is not a livable wage. It is barely a wage. How long does it take someone making 8 dollars to reach 100 dollars of income? The importance of that question is that this country’s prices are increasing and wages are not. And they should.
There is a growing movement to up the minimum wage to 15 dollars per hour. That would be about $2,400 per month in income or about $28,800 annually per person. So, $57,600 for a two-person household wherein both parties work full time. Now that is a livable wage and that couple might even be able to put money away for a vacation rather than merely staying home for a week watching TV. But I digress. My point is that this country’s businesses can afford to pay their employees better and choose not to due to greed.
The 15 dollar an hour movement is being placed on ballots for the upcoming November elections, but it is already being attacked by the companies themselves. With knowledge of the Fight For 15 movement, more and more companies are replacing workers with kiosks that do everything so they don’t have to pay workers, only occasional maintenance for the machines. AI manufacturers are determined to replace the human workforce with basically robots and kiosks are just the beginning.
Many critics feel that minimum wage workers should not get nearly a double jump in pay because their services are questionable, particularly in the fast food industry. I will point out that minimum wage is not solely a fast food wage. Many in the service industry make minimum wage and not all are teens as some imagine. And regardless of where they work, they deserve a livable wage in unarguably the richest nation in history.
The reality of where America is heading financially as a result of this income imbalance is collapse. Should we reach a 50 percent unemployment rate, official or otherwise, we will be in serious trouble. And again, economists such as Gerald Celente have been saying financial collapse will happen and he has a track record for being right on such things, such as the 2008 travesty that abolished the middle class.
There is time for us to get things back on track. It will take a lot of work. A lot of votes. But we can fix this if those in power would stop being so greedy and those without wealth would get out and vote. It would be a start.