So many people have differing views on what the minimum wage should be, what it should be raised to, or should it even be raised! There’s no question something MUST be done! I figured it’s about time to put my own suggestions into the hat.
Let’s face it, there is absolutely NO way that a person can live even a meager lifestyle on minimum wage. When I was entering adulthood, minimum wage was $3.35/hr – but gas was also under $1/gallon, rent for a 2-BR apartment was about $250, and a trip to the grocery store rarely topped $100 in a month. Minimum wage wasn’t something you wanted to live off of back then, but my dad put it best when he said, “You have no problem living on your own on your pay. Work hard and you’ll get raises, then you can afford the extras and rewards in life.” This nothing less than you’d expect from a great parent, but I want you to take note that, back then, having a job meant you could survive without effort.
Nowadays, for a man to support a wife and a child as the sole bread-winner, and maintain that same level of lifestyle, he would need to make at least $19/hr in most areas of the country. This is why spouses must work full-time as well, roommates are a common experience, and poverty-stricken neighborhoods are everywhere you look. We simply cannot live on the wages we make, when compared to the minimum expenses we have. But who do we blame for this?? Let’s look at how the cycle works and why every economic suggestion has and will fail.
Bottom line, we can’t earn enough to live that “meager lifestyle” that I was able to enjoy at the age of 20. But, and I speak from first-hand knowledge here, companies cannot afford to pay us that needed salary. In order to pay more, they must cut costs – which is done by consolidating employees (putting some out of work). This means higher unemployment rates and more people unable to live that lifestyle. Some employers need those larger number of employees and can’t operate by consolidating the workforce. So instead, they raise the cost of their products to be able to afford the employees. Now, even at a higher pay rate, expenses are more expensive, so we need even MORE salary increase.
You can already see how the three main areas I’ve brought up are affected by each other – pay, expenses, costs. Just these alone probably help you understand the problem . . . . BUT THERE’S MORE!! Requirements, such as health care, leave options, and paid time off are mandated by the government, raising the costs incurred by the companies, requiring they consolidate or raise prices to offset these new expenses. It’s an endless circle and there’s no hope.
Unless we consider something bold, contentious, and radical to break the cycle – a way to reduce the expenses of the companies so that they can increase work hours, pay, and benefits to their employees. More money for the employees, as every politician likes to point out, means more family timer, less poverty, less unemployment, better neighborhoods, . . . and on and on. So here’s my suggestion, keeping in mind that the numbers don’t need to be exact – it’s the idea behind it that I think can solve the problem:
How about a MAXIMUM wage?? I know the idea has been tossed around before and shot down. But let’s face it, the people shooting it down are the same ones who would suffer by the suggestion!!! Those people are the one’s that benefit from OUR work and from OUR successes. The CEO of a company, for instance, may make $180k per year, while his lowest-paid employee makes less than $9k per year. If that CEO earned just half as much, the company could have TWENTY more of those lower-paid workers!!!
So how about we KEEP the minimum wage we have – it really would be fine if we fix the other problems of this vicious circle! Instead, let’s implement a MAXIMUM wage of “500% of the lowest-paid employee in the same company”. So, for instance, if you make $10 and hour, the highest paid employee of your company would never make more than $50 and hour! Under this program, those that set the wages would INCREASE what they pay their staff in order to get a raise for themselves!! This policy would also prevent an excess of money from going into salaries, allowing for lower prices – making the cost of living better for all.
It may seem that company owners have the most to lose here, but the OPPOSITE is true. I’m not suggesting capping off company sales or profits, so owners actually increase their own revenue! Increased revenues, coincidentally, means the company can provide expanded benefits – health care, leave time, etc. And since the money is there, they can hire MORE people, reducing unemployment!
This new way of doing things also does not affect investors. Our county was founded on capitalism, you deserve every penny of what you earn through investments and dividends, as long as your salary never exceeds 500% of your lowest paid employee’s salary. Of course, to prevent total anarchy and promote worker performance, salaries would be grandfathered into this new “Maximum Wage” proposal. So that hypothetical CEO could keep his over-exaggerated salary for as long as he/she is employed by the company – further guaranteeing they work their butts off or lose their position and forced to take a much-lower paid job.
Of course we’d have to implement this across the board! Our President, Senators, Congressman would never again be paid more than 500% of the salary of the janitor that cleans their toilets. Even the CEO of a company headquartered overseas would be forced to pay their American workers 20% the salary he earns!!
As I said before, I know it sounds radical. But imagine if we could convince our leaders to implement this!! It would take time for the effects to take hold of our economy, but unemployment itself be almost immediately be eliminated by it. Prices would go down quickly, as would expenses and utilities. It’s a win-win-win situation!! Those paid the most today would balk the most, but twenty years from now, those CEO’s would never have known a time like now. A time when expenses and costs are astronomical, wages are low, employment is stagnant, and benefits are fought against.