Thursday, August 29, 2013

Trying to make a square peg to the work of a round one

My first job was that of a cashier, and I worked at the local grocery chain from high school to summers halfway through college. It was a great first job. I remember during my last days on that job one of the older cashiers encouraged me to finish college and do well so I wouldn't be like her (I'm guessing she was in her late 40s) having to work that job. The job paid a few cents over minimum wage when I started and I kept getting small raises, I had no idea what my older co-worker was getting, but she'd been there longer that I, and worked more hours. I thought of that hearing a story on the radio about a planned march to make fast food and restaurant wages $12-15. The sympathetic subject presented was a single mother with 2 kids, living in an urban (read higher cost) area. The money from working part-time did not pay for all that she needed. The problem I saw was that she was trying to make a square peg to the work of a round peg, or a block do the work of a wheel, which won't get you far. I oppose raising the minimum wage. Not because I don't care about the poor, but because I do and I think the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Raising the minimum wage gentrifies low skilled jobs. It will make our unemployment look like France's, lots of unemployed brown people getting pissed off. If employers have to pay more then they'll demand more, I've seen in in office jobs that don't need college degrees but for some stupid reason requests them. I see a future where people whe can get entry level jobs first have to have experience in unpaid volunteer work. Job gentrification. But back to square and round things. A minimum wage part time job was probably never ever meant to support more than one person who lives like a monk, much less a family. It is expecting a studio apartment to fit a family of four, it can be done, but it isn't the best. A minimum wage job should be just to people who need extra money are are just starting out or who cannot get any other employment. Why did society ever think that it was meant to do more than that? All jobs aren't equal and don't provide the same level of headache, compensation, joy, challenges, growth, enlightenment, opportunities, to all people. My current job does not give me a free, already cooked, baked 1/2 chicken, like my old part-time restaurant job. And that job was to do no more than suppliment my income until my bosses realized my position was unnecessary. The sqaure or block is the minimum wage job, part-time and fulltime, the wheel or round peg is the career level job that can support a family AND a 21st century lifestyle on a single income. I just thought of another analogy, horse vs car. Both can get you from point A to point B, but to attempt to get the horse to get you from DC to NY in 10 hours (by car it is 5-6 hours) will result in a very dead horse somewhere in PA or MD. Raising the minimum wage will result in the death of the easy to get entry level job and the gentrification of work.

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