We need to stop talking about the minimum wage. It is an outmoded concept that only hurts those that it intends to help.
A living wage should replace the concept of a minimum wage.
Let’s examine how a minimum wage is set. The conservative business/alliance in congress will only come to the table to discuss an increase in the minimum wage when they find they may lose an election. But, when the alliance does come to the table, every ploy is used to keep the increase to a bare minimum.
So, when, and if, the wage is increased it will not be enough to make up the difference between what it was and what someone needs to live. (But, they will shout and holler about how wonderful they are because they increased it.)
All of that is crap.
If the increase isn’t enough, and it never is, the increase in taxes the poor will pay and the decrease in purchasing power will eat up what ever the increase is and leave them with nothing for another 10 years. (The last time the minimum wage was increased was in 2009. Since then, the purchasing power of the minimum wage has lost 9.6%. (1))
We need to start talking more about a living wage. A living wage,
“… refers to a theoretical wage level that allows an individual to afford adequate shelter, food and the other necessities. A living wage should be substantial enough to ensure that no more than 30% of it gets spent on housing. The goal of a living wage is to allow employees to earn enough income for a satisfactory standard of living.” (3)
The living wage isn’t a new idea. The concept, not always in name, has been around for more than 2,000 years. (2) Plato and Aristotle argued for the concept of a wage that would sustain an individual. But, so did Adam Smith (yes, the author of the Wealth of Nations), Thomas Aquinas and others.
With a living wage, numerous problems are solved. Here are a few.
A minimum wage is a national average that doesn’t consider the variations in communities around the country. But, with a living wage, communities that have a higher cost of living then in others, the employees in that community will receive enough to cover their expenses.
Also, the minimum wage is set by confrontational decision making between competing political parties as noted above. One party doing everything they can to keep it as low as possible. But, with a living wage, the income is set by the market. Then, instead of waiting for the national government to catch up with the increase in the cost of living, as the cost of living rises so do the wages.
With the increase in income, the economy will grow. As workers have more money to spend on the basics of life, business will prosper. This will increase the standard of living for all.
What ever increases there might be in prices (In many areas that have living wage policies in place, there has not been a sharp rise in prices.) it will be offset by a decrease in government spending. People that are earning a wage that pays their expenses will not need to apply for government assistance even if they have a job. As reported by Forbes, Walmart employees cost the American government $6.2 billion in public assistance. Yes, that is billion with a “B”. (4) If Walmart paid a living wage these employees would not be collecting public assistance.
It is suggested you do research on the concept and support a growing movement for a living wage. After more than 2,000 years, its time has come.