Should Minimum Wage Ensure a Basic Standard of Living?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Spectrum Abuser, May 13, 2015.

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Should Minimum Wage Ensure a Basic Standard of Living?

Poll closed Jun 3, 2015.
  1. Yes

    40 vote(s)
    70.2%
  2. No

    17 vote(s)
    29.8%
  1. Spectrum Abuser macrumors 65816

    Spectrum Abuser

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    Aug 27, 2011
    #1
    I'd like to create a debate for the sole topic of if minimum wage should ensure a worker a base level of lifestyle in the United States. This is not a black or white issue of course, as generally a minimum wage worker is going to have dependents to support as well as themselves, but for the sake of this discussion lets assume that it's one individual with no dependents or spouse.

    So should minimum wage guarantee a full time worker that they will have adequate income to support themselves on a most basic level that sits above the poverty threshold? We aren't talking about said individual owning a private car, or having money for a brand new 240Hz LED 52" TV. The basic threshold in this example would be having enough to:

    • Able to afford basic housing
    • Able to afford a good nutrious diet
    • Able to afford healthcare whether through Medicaid or private insurers
    • Adequate income to put clothes on their back and shoes on their feet
    • Basic utilities paid for such as electricity and water
    • Be able to put a little into savings every paycheck after all the bills are paid
     
  2. jnpy!$4g3cwk macrumors 65816

    jnpy!$4g3cwk

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    Feb 11, 2010
    #2
    For some level of basic-- sure. For example, when I started out, working for minimum wage, I could afford a modest apartment shared with 3 other people. Oh, and, the county hospital system, and, $3 doctor's visits, were not too frightening either. Transportation by bicycle and bus. At today's rents, I don't see how kids starting out can get out of their parent's houses. I think kids starting out should have the opportunity to learn how to become independent of their parents.
     
  3. WestonHarvey1 macrumors 68020

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    #3
    No - this can be phrased as "should the government force business owners to pay more for labor than it is actually worth".

    This is just another form of price controls, and those are always disastrous.

    It would be far better to implement Milton Friedman's idea of the negative income tax, which has been recently rediscovered as the idea of the "basic income". Free money for everyone, that gradually tapers off the more you earn in a job.
     
  4. Spectrum Abuser thread starter macrumors 65816

    Spectrum Abuser

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    #4
    Can I quote you directly saying that the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 is simply price control?

    And as far as your second point. I can't tell if you're being facetious or not. You'd rather reward people for simply being alive instead of ensuring a basic quality of life for an individual who actively engages in labor to better society as a whole?
     
  5. Thraun macrumors regular

    Thraun

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    #5
    Of course there should be a minimum wage to ensure a minimum standard of living - which is, to say, at least being able to stay alive.

    I could potentially support some sort of split minimum wage, where if you're under 18 the wage is lower, but if you're 18 and above, you should be guaranteed a pay that allows you to survive in this horribly greedy and selfish capitalist system.

    And I know it's been said before, but if you can't afford to pay a wage that keeps your employees above the poverty line, then you have a failing business that should no longer exist.
     
  6. A.Goldberg macrumors 68000

    A.Goldberg

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    #6
    I'm all for people being able to support themselves on their own wage, but honestly I'm confused to see how raising the minimum wage would actually provide a benefit. If a company is forced to increase their wages substantially, then I imagine the cost of their products and services would reflect the higher wages they must pay. As a result, the cost of goods and services will rise.

    In some sense, assuming everyone below the new minimum wage gets a raise, ultimately I suppose the same people (the people with money) will be paying for the higher wages (versus paying taxes for social services). People making just over the minimum likely wouldn't get a raise and wouldn't be happy.

    I believe people should be able to support themselves and earn a livable wage, but I don't think companies will accept big cuts into their revenue to pay higher salaries. The result would be layoffs and fewer job opportunities to maintain their profits.

    I'm not sure you can force a company to decrease profit, increase their their job offerings, mandate stable pricing in most cases or to a substantial level. The split wage is an interesting idea, but it seems it would just encourage companies to higher younger employees and dump older employees. I don't think that would help the situation at all. An older employee might have more experience, but if it's a minimum wage job work experience isn't necessarily vital.
     
  7. Thraun macrumors regular

    Thraun

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    #7
    Why should a company get to hoard profits when there are people starving in the streets of so-called "developed" countries?
     
  8. WestonHarvey1 macrumors 68020

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    Jan 9, 2007
    #8
    No - the nice thing about the negative income tax is it solves one problem better than existing welfare systems - making sure no one is destitute. It encourages work, because you always come out ahead when you start earning. There are no cliffs that incentivize someone to not work. It tapers off gradually.

    ----------

    You're saying virtually all family owned eateries should no longer exist. I hope you like Chili's, Fridays, and Applebees, and paying a lot more for it. And it's an open question if even the chains could survive.
     
  9. A.Goldberg macrumors 68000

    A.Goldberg

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    #9
    No, I completely understand. Currently there are limits on how far our (the US) government can intervene in business matters as a capitalist country. To truly make the system work we would have to fundamentally change who we are and how we function as a nation. I'm just not sure that's a plausible option given the way we are structured.

    We have made substantial changes in our social services- social security, medicare/medicaid, obamacare, etc. I'm not saying it's impossible, it's just a big hurdle to conquer. I suppose eventually if the wealth discrepancy and general sentiment becomes big enough, the tides may have the political power to create the change. Right now it's every underprivileged person vs. every business, which I don't see as good odds. Like WestonHarvey1 stated, there's a lot of small businesses that may not be able to afford paying 2x or more for wages. In that case, either the employee number drop/unemployment increases, the product/service prices go up, or the business closes (which might happen as a result of the first 2). I suppose one of the benefits of taxes and social services is you can be more selective where you source the money from to support the people living below livable wages. It's a complex solution, I think we can all agree on that.
     
  10. Hieveryone macrumors 68020

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    Apr 11, 2014
    #10
    Yes I think so. I mean this is America. We are the Greatest Nation.

    So I mean if we can't even put clothes on our own people, what does that say about us?
     
  11. chown33 macrumors 604

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    Aug 9, 2009
    #11
    It says we're too engrossed in superficial pursuits.

    Idk. Whatever.
     
  12. Thraun macrumors regular

    Thraun

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    #12
    I think this applies globally as well. Maybe you can tell, but I'm a pretty staunch anti-capitalist - which, by the way, does not make me a communist; those aren't the only two options. However, as someone whose breadth of knowledge definitely doesn't encompass economics, I can't pretend to know what the solution is. And even if I or someone else did, like you said, implementing that system would require a major global revolution I don't even know civilization could survive.
     
  13. A.Goldberg macrumors 68000

    A.Goldberg

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    #13
    I can tell hahah. I'm not an economist either by anymeans, but I do see the equilibrium that adjusts with every change made. I'm not sure what the solution is, I'm sure if it was that obvious we'd put it into place. I think we agree that does not excuse the fact that there is a widespread problem. We may fret about our 1st world problems, but we have a half a planet of severe poverty where the opportunities for healthcare, education, skilled employment, or any type of advancement are scarce to nonexistentant. I'm not suggestion that excuses our own national problems with poverty and the related consequences at all, but it's something to highlight the overall gap between the wealthy and the poor in the global sense.

    Ideally no one would be poor, but I'm not sure that will ever be attainable. How do you make the country, let alone the world a better place, I have no idea. :)
     
  14. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #14
    Seems a reasonable basic standard.
     
  15. unlinked macrumors 6502a

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    Ireland
    #15
    As phrased I think this is basically asking do you agree with a minimum wage existing. If one exists obviously it should provide a basic level of living (tbd). It gets more complicated when you include dependents and factor in that the cost of any basic level of living will vary by location. The minimum wage should not support an arbitrary level of dependents or necessarily the persons preferred location.
     
  16. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #16
    I think the minimum wage should allow you to live somewhere in a region and support one dependent to that minimum standard.
     
  17. shinji macrumors 65816

    shinji

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    #17
    It is sickening that the US has such a low minimum wage and such a weak social safety net, given the country's relative wealth.
     
  18. Mousse macrumors 68000

    Mousse

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    #18
    Sure they would, as long as its an Executive getting the higher salary. It doesn't matter if the company is circling the drain. The executive gotta get his golden parachute.:rolleyes: Just like when Amelio left Apple, Skilling screwed over Enron and so on.

    In 'Murica, if they pay executives a reasonable salary (every other developed country in the world) they can afford to pay the guy doing the work his fair share. Don't tell me Wal-Mart can't afford to pay living wages for their workers. I ain't buying it. Why should a typical Wal-Mart employee have to ask for Government assistance when Wally's kids are (metaphorically) swimming in gold coins?
     
  19. mrkramer macrumors 603

    mrkramer

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    #19
    I generally agree with you except Medicaid shouldn't be an option. If we are going to go single payer for everyone then great. But if not I don't want to be subsidizing companies that don't either provide healthcare or don't want to pay a high enough wage for employees to buy their own insurance from private companies.
     
  20. BigInDallas macrumors regular

    BigInDallas

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    Connecticut
    #20
    The company made the money, they can do what they want with it. Dont work for the company if your unhappy with your salary.

    The "starving" people" should better themselves
     
  21. zin macrumors 6502

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    United Kingdom
    #21
    Government plays a part in the business cycle. Government provides public services that employees depend on. It provides services that the business depends on. It is responsible for funding by and large the educations of the future employees of those companies. The company did not make that money by itself. Other people helped to make that happen.

    There are hundreds of corporations that publicly praise themselves for being so charitable, some even having their own charitable foundations. These are the same corporations that engage in aggressive tax avoidance. If a corporation genuinely wishes to help the disadvantaged then it should pay its taxes gladly. Private charity is not a viable alternative. The disadvantaged should not have to rely on the rich man to dole out his money at a whim.

    It is very easy for you to say that if you don't like the salary then "just find another job". But the reality of the situation is that moving from a low-paying job to another low-paying job doesn't fix the problem. There are a certain group of people who will forever be trapped at the bottom because of the low-paying jobs, with high hours, combined with the very expensive educations that they need to progress upwards.

    It also doesn't help when corporations themselves collude to fix the market rates of labour. For instance, Apple, Google, and Intel all engaged in wage fixing, meaning even if you were an upper level employee you'd be no better off. There is little doubt that this practice is common across many industries.

    Corporations that can afford to pay a living wage, but choose not to, are also being subsidised by the Government. Those employees will depend on government programmes in order to survive: you are subsidising private business by allowing this attitude of greed to exist.

    It is one thing to say those in low-wage jobs should better themselves but it is frankly disheartening to say that the homeless and starving should simply better themselves also. If success were the result of nothing but hard work then nobody would be homeless.
     
  22. A.Goldberg macrumors 68000

    A.Goldberg

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    #22
    If we're talking about big corporations, I don't it to do with the executive salaries as much as it has to do with investors. While some executives get paid millions, these are often a small percentage of the total revenue. When it comes to small businesses, the owners aren't necessarily making big bucks.
     
  23. BigInDallas macrumors regular

    BigInDallas

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    #23

    I disagree. the company made the money. The employees were doing their jobs, for which they are paid.

    People are homeless for a reason, some have bad luck, others can blame themselves. I see too many "homeless people" driving cars and spending cash on ice cream and soda. Then soon after they are begging for money
     
  24. burgundyyears macrumors 6502

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    Sep 3, 2010
    #24
    Oh sure, and I'd like a pony too.

    Minimum wage is the ultimate feelgood legislation. It seems right at first glance and people love to be very generous with other people's money.

    Economic research indicates it provides very little net benefit to people who actually need it. It's a very poorly targeted intervention, and I imagine it's only focused on for electoral and political purposes.
     
  25. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #25
    Source?

    ----------

    Homeless all drive BMWs?
     

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