Dear Editor:

This is in response to the August 13th opinion piece titled, “Minimum wage would have minimum effect on economy.”

When offering an opinion on minimum wage I realize the managing editor of this newspaper is fair and balanced, much like Fox News.  However, I thought I’d share some thoughts of my own.

A fair wage has nothing to do with the age of a person.  It’s what that person brings to the table that matters.  Using high school kids and retirees as an excuse to keep wages low is a business philosophy to maximize profits.  It’s their choice to do so.  The purpose of working is to provide a living.  There are thousands of high end jobs where the salary doesn’t match the skill set, production output, or quality. But they think they’re worth the money.

It seems that the jobs that produce a lower income are the only ones that are news worthy.  Apparently, the only jobs where the employees don’t deserve, have no skills and are not worthy of what they earn are these minimum wage jobs.

If keeping a business open twenty-four hours a day, (which is common practice in America), doesn’t produce the desired profit margin then perhaps they need a better product.  The fact that the top 1% of the country continue to maintain 90% of the wealth is no accident. You know – the “job creators”.  Their trickle-down economy has worked so well that the entire middle class is all but gone.  The gap between the rich and the poor is greater now than any time in American history.  It’s greed that drives big business and a fair wage has nothing to do with it.  Today’s business model is to pay less and get more.

The small mom and pop stores have disappeared.  Why?  Maybe the distribution of wealth has something to do with it, or the lack thereof.  To put it bluntly there is no distribution of wealth as pointed out earlier, when 1% of the country controls it.  If people think that paying a service worker a living wage would drive prices up, well you could be right.  Gee, I wonder if a big business like McDonald’s could possibly survive; and hamburgers are big business.  They’d probably go bankrupt. I can’t remember the last market report that McDonald’s actually made a profit (yeah, right.)  The point is these companies can more than afford to pay a living wage to their employees without pushing these costs onto the consumer via higher product prices.  I don’t think that being paid a fair living wage for the service these workers provide is unreasonable.

The wages of the working poor are at an all-time low and big business has made a killing off the backs of cheap labor.  It’s for this reason only that people are forced to buy as cheap as possible.  According to the Wall Street Journal 284,000 Americans with college degrees were working minimum wage jobs last year. That’s 70 percent more college grads working for minimum wage than 10 years ago. And 45% of those in their 20’s and 30’s with college degrees are back living at home.  The so-called “Millenials” or “boomerang generation” they’ve been dubbed.

The truth is that the American dream is not attainable for everyone.  Not all people are going to be bankers, lawyers, doctors etc.  The opportunity across the board is not the same for blue collar working people for a variety of reasons.  For one, the level of education is not equal for everyone.  However, this does not mean that the value and contribution that a minimum wage worker makes is to be looked upon as undeserving.  The playing field will never be level or even close; it’s not designed to be.

The wealthy will always dictate, control and manage their own destiny deserved or not, many times stepping on whomever and doing whatever it takes to maintain that control.  Low income workers deserve a living wage with benefits just as much as the next person.

Let’s talk automation.  Automation is the staple of today’s business model.  The fact is that the desire to become wealthy is simply not enough.  Greed at any cost plagues America, thus the origin of minimum wage.  This has destroyed the middle class and this effort continues.  It will remain true that the wealthy will always think their self-worth is greater than that of the blue collar working class.  Truth and reality are faithful companions.  Sometimes one’s truth just doesn’t match reality.

Free enterprise rings true and is alive and well for the people who control America’s wealth, but not so much when you’re not able to engage in it.  It takes us all, on every level, to become a healthy society.  So I say let’s invest in each other and not stack the deck or take pleasure in creating someone else’s struggle.

-Rick Woods


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