California has raised its minimum wage to $10/hr, the highest in the entire country. Forbes reports, “On September 25, 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a new law making California the first state to reach a $10 per hour minimum wage. The new law raises the minimum wage from the current $8 per hour to $9 per hour July 1, 2014, and then to $10 per hour January 1, 2016. ”
I am happy that it’s a step in the right direction but I am sad because $10 is a fucking joke. I got paid that much—NO, I WAS LUCKY TO BE PAID THAT MUCH—as an intern at Gurl.com. However, that was just an internship, which isn’t supposed to be a lucrative nor a primary source of income. Nevertheless when I was working there 40 hours a week, I wasn’t making enough on any level to move out on my own and still $10 is $2.75 more than the minimum wage in NYC and that’s before taxes.
In fact, if you recall McDonald’s ridiculous budget, you’ll remember that along with significantly reducing the actual cost of living (health insurance was only $20), they also suggested that a minimum wage worker get an additional part time job to still not be able to afford anything.
I find it absurd that we live in a country where we arbitrarily decide that someone’s labor is so “meaningless” that they don’t deserve to live. Yes, live, because you cannot live on such little money. No one’s life is more important or more valuable than a single mother working two jobs waiting tables or a college student who has to pay their way through university because they didn’t come from money. The people who work these jobs are people. They could be you or have been you. To suggest that they don’t have a right to a sustainable wage is degrading. Should fast food employees make the same amount of money as doctors or lawyers, that depends on your ideological standpoint.
However, no one is suggesting that, what I mean to say is that a minimum wage should be a living wage. A healthy economy is one where people spend more money, where people save more money, where there is buying mass to fuel it. When all of your money goes to rent and food that is impossible. As writer Nick Hanauer pointed out, “Studies by the Economic Policy Institute show that a $15 minimum wage would directly affect 51 million workers and indirectly benefit an additional 30 million. That’s 81 million people, or about 64 percent of the workforce, and their families who would be more able to buy cars, clothing and food from our nation’s businesses.”
The minimum wage is not just unfair, it’s degrading and if when you read this you find yourself scowling at the thought of a McDonald’s employee making $15/hr then that’s testament of just how degrading the job is.