I just heard John Boehner say that increasing the minimum wage would actually be a disservice to workers, because a low wage encourages workers to get some skills. Because no one has to work at minimum wage if they are motivated enough, right??
This is the problem with conservatives; they see politics in terms of the individual, instead of the entire polity.
Minimum wage jobs will exist NO MATTER WHAT INDIVIDUALS DO. The goal isn’t to ELIMINATE these jobs — these jobs are a necessary evil of our economy. Someone has to clean up, has to wait tables, has to work retail, has to customer serve. Someone’s always going to have to do that, even if we have the best economy ever. These people deserve to not live in poverty, if they are working. They deserve to be able to feed their children.
Not everyone has the opportunity or the ability to obtain higher level skills to work at a higher level!
And even if they had those skills — are there enough jobs to meet that demand?
You know how many college grads I know who are waiting tables and working at the Gap right now?
HOW ARE THESE FUCKHEADS SO OUT OF TOUCH??
It’s all part of the lie that they want to pay skilled workers. They just don’t want to pay! There’s always someone willing to do the work for less, because there’s always someone in a position where they will literally need any penny they can get. That’s the fundamental disconnect between capitalist society and education. Why are U.S. jobs shifted overseas? Cheaper labor. Why are borders not really closed despite not wanting ‘those people!1’ to stay? Cheap labor. The prison industrial complex? Bright shiny source of soon-to-be-sanctioned *free* labor!
The lie, basically, is that a capitalist society can also be egalitarian; you get a middle-class life, you get a middle-class life, you get a middle-class life!, etc. But that’s not possible; there *must* be the underclass for the system to function. That means either withholding education/training from some members of the society, whether through substandard schooling or the pipeline from Black and Latino communities to jail, or importing/exporting labor for performance by non-U.S. nationals who don’t get protections. It starts off low-level, but with the exponential growth in income disparity, there’s no alternative but to keep a low ceiling on income—and thus a low ceiling on economic mobility.
That concept is Brave New World at its very best.
I think one of the best examples of cheap labor vs. education that I can think of comes in the form of what happened to us kids born in the 1985 - 1995 area.
Basically, growing up, we were told the lie of “IF YOU GET A GOOD EDCUATION, YOU CAN GET A DECENT JOB.” This point was driven home so often by teachers and parents, and bless them, they were just telling what they knew, and didn’t expect economic downturn, but it got to the point where if you had no plans to continue your education, you had everyone wondering where they’d gone wrong with you. You were a failed human being because you had no chance of surviving without the extra education.
One of my favorite cautionary tales (if you could call it that) to try and prevent that and encourage us to go to college was “IF U DON’T U’LL BE FLIPPING BURGERS 4 TEH REST OF UR LIFE DO U WANT FRIES WITH THAT????” which is not only fucking unfair to the people in those jobs, but it gave the unrealistic expectation that if we graduated from college we could avoid minimum wage jobs and actually be able to support ourselves.
Like the good little kids we were, we graduated high school, and most of us went to college. I want to point out that I have nothing against higher education in itself. It’s a decent experience. HOWEVER, when most of us left college, we found ourselves in the negative range money-wise, and unless you were in a particular field, we found ourselves with no job prospects.
Here’s where the fucking irony kicks in.
Because we’re thousands of dollars in the hole because we attended a school because we were TOLD by just about EVERY SINGLE ADULT in our lives that if we didn’t we were subject to a life of abject poverty, we had to go look for something, anything, to keep us afloat. Which means applying to those burger joints we were told we’d have to work at if we didn’t go to school.
IT GETS EVEN BETTER THOUGH
A lot of us apply to those burger joints, but we’re told we’re OVERQUALIFIED to work there. Why? Because of a couple things. For one, while there are some people who work as managers who are rather intelligent people, they don’t want to risk the idea of you being smarter than the person above you. Two, they’re afraid of the pay you might want because you went to college. Three, they’re also afraid you’ll leave after a month if you find a better job, because, you know, fast food doesn’t have high turnover or anything.
I guess the moral of this ramble is, it doesn’t matter how educated or skilled you are, unless you’re in a certain field, what American companies want these days is something damn near slave labor. To paraphrase Chris Rock: “Minimum wage is your boss saying, ‘Hey, I’d pay you less, but that would be illegal.’”