After weeks of strikes by fast food workers, Senate Democrats have proposed a new minimum wage bill.
One of the most readily recurring issues on the American political scene has surfaced again: raising the minimum wage from $7.25. President Obama has consistently voiced his support for the movement, most recently signing a congressional Democratic proposal to increase the wage to a $10.10 hourly rate. The dispute centers over how a raise could affect productivity and eventually the economy in general. And while these concerns are legitimate, the debate boils down to something much more simple: whether it’s the government’s job to ensure everyone who works for a living has sufficient funds to provide for their families. The “American Dream,” which suggests that all people in our democratic nation have the ability to grow and live a life with financial stability, is losing more and more credibility the more the federal government denies millions of its
citizens the ability to pay for basic necessities like food and shelter. The extremely low minimum wage is a large part of the problem. To start off, a family with two parents who both work full-time at minimum wage jobs will earn $30,160 a year. The poverty cutoff, assuming they have two children, is $23,550. Additionally, according to the United States Department of Labor, 3.6 million U.S. workers work at minimum wage. Families who live under these conditions struggle with basic needs every day. The federal government does not grant them proper funds for them to rise on the socioeconomic spectrum, or even lead comfortable lives. Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 will grant an extra $11,856 to workers in need. The increased disposable income will give our citizens who work at minimum wage some breathing room. The random medical emergency or national
holiday is exceedingly costly, and a higher wage will allow minimum wage workers to pay for them. Why do they have this right? Because minimum wage workers are the backbone of our nation. Without them, Walmart, McDonald’s and countless other corporate powerhouses would fail. There seems to be a growing sentiment that if you work at a fast food restaurant, you are lazy and deserve to live in or near poverty. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, many minimum wage workers cannot progress past these positions because of the conditions our government places them in. To answer the question raised earlier: yes, our government has the responsibility to facilitate equality and prevent workers from being exploited. Raising the minimum wage is a step in the right direction in forming a nation where each individual has the same opportunity to succeed.
Whether the higher minimum wage is achieved through budget reallocation or by higher taxes on the wealthy, it must be done. More people will be able to advance in society, or at the very least lead better lives, bringing back credit to the idea that the United States is a place where every individual can be a success.
I am the “lucky” twin. The one spared a life of being trapped inside my own mind. I was that annoying 10-year-old; I didn’t really know how lucky I was. I just thought I was totally awesome because I shopped at Aeropostale, and I went to the pool by myself to hang out with the “cool” kids. Many people ask if I read the book. No, I don’t wish to witness, secondhand, my parents’ struggles and affairs or relive my brother’s seizures and shrieks. Once I listened to a YouTube summary of the book, and scanned the internet for reviews. I couldn’t look my parents in the eyes for days. This book has affected me. It’s made me confront things I didn’t want to think about. It’s made me reflect on how my twin brother’s
tuberous sclerosis has made me think differently than other kids my age; most people will hopefully never witness a seizure. After seeing so many, it doesn’t faze me anymore. It’s forced me to mature faster. It’s made me stronger. I wish I had the chance to go back and change my name in the book. I’ll always be connected to my parents’ adultery, even. My mother once said, “Many men have problems expressing their feelings, [but] your father shares his with thousands of people.”
Should the minimum wage be increased?
20-3 The WSS editorial board voted in support of an increase.
BY LUCY BLAIR
We all know families have struggles. Parents fight, and siblings have drama. But your family secrets are called that for a reason - they stay within the walls of your home. Though for most of you, your father didn’t compile a book about it. My father had a book published on my parents’ failing marriage, my twin brother’s autism and the flood that destroyed segments of Iowa. My parents’ marriage seemed DESIGN BY//FIONA ARMSTRONG-PAVLIK
perfect - I liked to think so, anyway. However, my father’s “new office” was actually his new apartment. My siblings and I only spent one night there. There were no obvious signs of distress in my parents’ marriage, so I assumed everything was okay. My parents were good, or at least good enough to put up a facade to those closest to them. When the book was first published, I never thought about the fact that some of my friends’ parents would read it, or that it would make an appearance in People magazine. Or become featured in The New York Times. I assumed that his memoir would fade to the backs of bookshelves, barely getting any attention, like most books. In the book, one of the main subjects is my twin brother’s disability.
DECEMBER 2013 OPINION 35