Dear Minimum Wage Protester:
I recently saw you and your friends on TV blocking streets as you shouted and marched for a higher minimum wage. You said it is unfair that your job as a fast food worker barely meets the cost of living in this large American city. You scowled at the reporter as you looked into the camera and said, “I can’t support my family on the minimum wage and how can anyone expect me to?”
After you spoke they cut to the weather and a segment on something you eat everyday that JUST MIGHT KILL YOU but no one ever answered your question and since we’re talking about justice, I think that was unfair. You deserve an answer to your question and it’s your lucky day: I just happen to have the time and the space and the primo cushiony chair at Starbucks, so let me take the time to answer your very pertinent and passionate question.
Ready? Here’s your answer.
We don’t expect you to raise a family on the minimum wage. Why do you? A minimum wage is just that – the minimum wage. It is a starting point, a base. It is the promise of something better while assuring you that you at the very least won’t receive less.
If you’re raising an entire family on the minimum wage, you’re doing it wrong.
You are not meant to live on minimum wage, my friend. In America everything is a promise. The very essence of this country is a promise – the promise of a better life, better community, better opportunity, better direction. That’s what people came to do, that’s what we’ve struggled with our entire existence as a nation – how to have better and do better and be better.
I realize that you think that is what you’re asking for – better. But the problem is that while you want to have better, you don’t particularly want to do better. Doing better is what gets you paid more. In effect, you are your own wage-raiser. What you want is to get paid for showing up – the minimum effort one needs to put in to maintain employment; but you want to be paid for doing more than showing up.
That’s not how it works. I understand that the minimum wage in big-city America doesn’t stretch very far. Perhaps there’s a longer conversation to be had about exactly why it is so expensive to live city-life these days. I can guarantee you mandatory raising of the wage for every single worker in town will only raise the cost of everything. You’ll always be chasing the cost of living as long as you keep driving up the minimum wage.
Success takes hard work.
Minimum wage sucks. Don’t settle for it. Show up to work on time, work late, work extra shifts, do the things no one else wants to do without being asked. Be courteous, be helpful. Go to school at night, on weekends, or online.
Get better at work, get better at education, get better at life. Earn a raise, then earn another. Earn a promotion, earn that degree.
Become the person who owns the fast food joint and you’ll never have to worry about supporting a family on the minimum wage again. Become the person who owns a degree and maybe you can even become the person who owns the company that franchises the fast food joint. Is this starting to sink in? Are you starting to see the process here?
You are not obligated to stay at a job that doesn’t pay you enough. If you don’t like the pay, go find a job that pays more. If you don’t qualify for a job that pays more, ask yourself why and then go fix that. No one owes you anything, and you owe no one anything.
Like I always say, America doesn’t owe you an opportunity. America is the opportunity. You are already five steps ahead of everyone else on the planet simply by being a citizen of this country, no matter what “class” you were born into. You are literally the one percent in this world.
We all make decisions. Some of us make the decision to bring children into the world while we are still but children ourselves. Some of us make the decision to drop out of school and neglect that high school degree. Some of us make the decision to stay where we are in life instead of taking risks that lead us to success. If you don’t think the minimum wage is enough to live your life on, you need to make new decisions to change that.
But that’s not what you’re doing, is it? You’re asking someone else to make the decision for you so that you can continue to put in the minimum effort while being paid above minimum-effort wages…and yes, dear protester, I do believe you are putting in the minimum effort. If you were doing more than that you wouldn’t be standing in the street blocking other people from their own jobs they are trying to get to so they can keep moving up the employment ladder. You’d be at work…working…like workers do.
In conclusion, dear protesters: If you want an increase in your wages, earn it. And if you don’t want to earn it, then shove it.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images
Kira Davis is a writer, video blogger and homeschool mother of two. She has interviewed President Obama and appeared on Fox News, The BlazeTV and the Dr. Phil Show. Kira is a dog person but she owns a cat anyway. You can find her on Twitter @RealKiraDavis.
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