A few weeks ago, President Obama signed an executive order raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour for federal contract employees. This order renewed the debate about the need to enact a living wage across the United States and sparked blow-back from GOP leaders about how a living wage is “bad business,” will lead to job loss and higher costs for consumers. Here are my “two cents” about why America needs a living wage:
As I’ve written about before, I think that it is shameful and disgusting the way that America protects big corporations, their executives, shareholders and CEO’s over the average employee. From a moral standpoint, and especially from a Christian perspective, it is simply not fair that a CEO makes millions of dollars per year while his employees make thousands. It also continually disgusts me that we defend this circumstance and say that the CEO “deserves” this level of compensation because he works hard. What about everybody else? Does the woman who takes your order at McDonald’s 37.5 hours a week NOT work hard? (They won’t let her work 40 hours a week because then she would became a full time employee and be entitled to more benefits)
Opponents of a living wage argue that raising the minimum wage costs jobs and leads to higher costs for consumers. However, there are ways to mitigate these effects. Firstly, a company could reduce executive compensation, limit bonuses or reduce shareholder profits rather than increasing prices for consumers…shocking and crazy ideas, I know. Secondly, major corporations pay higher wages in certain markets (Wal-Mart starts associates at 19.000 USD per hour in South Dakota and McDonald’s pays nearly 15 USD in Australia), yet these companies continue to open locations in these markets, hire workers and remain profitable. So the idea that a higher wage kills business is simply not accurate once we look across multiple markets.
It never ceases to anger me that opponents of a living wage respond with the “at least you have a job argument.” (Inevitably these are never the people earning 7.25 per hour) A job that makes you choose between heat and food is not something worth defending.
Americans need to choose who and what we value, and decide if we believe the lies of the multinational corporations and will succumb to their scare tactics. We have given multinational corporations free license to destroy the environment and pay slave wages around the world in pursuit of “low prices” and “job creation.”
But I am withdrawing this permission. I will join the fight for higher wages, and I will call the values of these corporations into question, and I will demand that they defend these decisions because one person NEVER deserves 11 million dollars per year.