The $15 Minimum Wage, The Living Wage, and Unpaid Labor (no wages)
Discussion about the $15 minimum wage for food service workers has been in the news for some time. The same is true of the movement in certain areas of the country in support of a living wage. Wages are what people earn for their work. Wages are what employers pay for the work people do for them. A living wage is the minimum amount a worker must earn to meet his or her basic needs. These wages are different in every part of the country. The issue is whether or not the government should tell employers how much they must pay their workers.
Talk about what the government should do about these wages have been fact based. These discussions have also been highly charged. In today’s contentious political environment in our country, the same facts are made to support opposing views. Some say the facts mean that a $15 minimum wage and a living wage would mean the end of civilization, as we know it. Others say that the government should stay out of the business of telling employers what to pay workers. Both sides argue their positions on moral, political, and religious grounds. But there is something that both sides agree on. Wages are very important!
Wages are very important to everyone in the country. Workers use them to pay bills. Cities and states and the federal government tax them to provide municipal services, public safety, and national defense. Employers pay them to workers so that they can use their labor to make money. They are even important to those that don’t have a job in America. That’s because the money that comes from the government to help people in need comes from the wages of people that work. In fact, the federal government has a department called the Labor Department that deals with wages. In 2014, 17,450 people worked there and the department spends about $12.1 billion per year to deal with wage issues.
Wages are a source of wealth for those that earn them. They are a source of wealth for those that pay them. They are a source of wealth for people, cities, states and even countries. As a matter of fact, the tremendous wealth of our country came to be because 12.5 million people worked for their whole lifetimes for 250 years straight for no wages. The absence of wages for these enslaved Americans for African descent created the ability and climate for this country to build itself into the greatest in modern history. This contribution cannot be ignored.
It would be almost impossible to calculate the economic value to a nation of 12.5 million people working for their whole lives for 250 years for no pay. It represents so much wealth that our country would not be the most successful country in the world in modern history without it. And wealth in labor is just one of the contributions of Unpaid Labor to the United States of America. It was taken from them by force. And everyone in this country benefits from Unpaid Labor’s Contribution every single day.
So, as the debate over minimum wage and Livable Wage continues, let’s not forget that the outcomes of these discussions affect many, if not all, facets of American life. Let us also be mindful and appreciative of the collective production of 12.5 million Unpaid Laborers that contributed to the building and establishment of this country as the most successful in modern world history.
Phot credit: Yahoo Finance