The Minimum Wage is Stupid

Before I explain why the minimum wage is stupid, I want to start with an example. General Mills - popular cereal maker of Cheerios, Wheaties, Lucky Charms, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, etc - made 4 billion in profit last year and still plans to do yet another 20% price increase on its cereals, blaming "inflation".

The same price hikes are happening across every industry - every single thing is getting more expensive.

And that means that catchy minimum wage slogans like "Fight for Fifteen" are now outdated - when the $15 minimum wage movement was founded in 2012, that seemed like a reasonable wage. But 2012 dollars are now worth 35% more. The same "buying power" would take a wage of $20.25 in today's money.

And this is why raising the minimum wage is stupid.

Rich people want you to fight over increasing the minimum wage when:
1. They will just increase prices, because they own the means of production (factories, land, machines)
2. As inflation rises, workers look "greedy" asking for $15 then asking for $20 and so on
3. We stop paying attention to the real cause of decreased earning potential - the fact that taxes on the wealthy are lower than they have been in 50 years.

To say that the minimum wage is stupid seems like such a "conservative" position, but in reality a minimum wage is meaningless when the value of money is also arbitrary.

Rich individuals and corporations will simply raise prices in response to increased wages. This cycle of wage increase and subsequent price inflation is a testament to the power imbalance in our economic system. Those who control the means of production—be it factories, land, or technology—have the leverage to pass on any cost increases to consumers. This not only negates the intended benefit of a minimum wage increase for the working class but also exacerbates the problem of affordability and access to basic goods and services.

It's a self-perpetuating cycle where we - the non-aristocrats, the workers - end up bearing the brunt of economic adjustments, highlighting the inadequacy of minimum wage policies in addressing systemic economic inequalities.

Rich people are likely backing the push for higher minimum wages, as a distraction against better options. Because of built-in economic inflation, the necessary minimum wage for a fair standard of living keeps increasing.

They want to frame it as "greedy workers" who are "not satisfied with $15 - now they want $20! What's next? $30!? When will it stop!" is a very tantalizing way to bait middle-class Americans into fighting against their own interests.

Photo: Pexels, Woman Grinding Coffee Bean, Quang Nguyen Vinh

This framing effectively vilifies the working class for seeking a standard of living that keeps pace with economic realities. It obscures the broader picture of wealth distribution and the mechanisms that perpetuate economic disparities. By painting workers' demands for fair compensation as unreasonable, the discourse detracts from the critical conversation about the real value of labor and the right to a dignified life. This manipulation of public perception serves to maintain the status quo, where the wealth gap continues to widen, and the economic mobility of the working class is severely constrained.

The decline in the tax obligations of the wealthy over the past five decades is a HUGE factor in the erosion of collective prosperity and public resources. This reduction in revenue from those most able to contribute has led to fewer services, infrastructure, and public goods that could otherwise bolster the earning potential and quality of life for the broader population. We've closed public hospitals, closed mental health centers, and de-funded domestic violence shelters.

By shifting the tax burden away from the wealthy, the system exacerbates inequality and undermines the social contract. This trend diverts attention from meaningful reforms that could address the root causes of economic disparity, such as tax justice, wealth redistribution, and investment in public welfare. It's a stark reminder that the issue at hand is not just about individual wages but about the broader economic policies and priorities that shape the distribution of wealth and opportunities within society.

There are clear and obvious answers to the growing economic inequality:

1. Raise taxes on the wealthiest individuals. Countless studies have proven that taxes on the wealthy are lower than ever - and many of them pay less tax than you or me. A CEO may pay a mere 10 or 20% in tax, where the company's janitors pay 40%! It's outrageous.

2. Implement a maximum wage. No person on this planet needs to earn what the McDonald's CEO earns per hour - a whopping $8,543 every hour. That's $340,000 per week! I propose a 100K cap. No person can earn more than $100,000 per week. Any amount paid above that will be subject to a 90% windfall tax. That's $5.2 million dollars per year.

3. Tie both the minimum wage and maximum wage to inflation, so they don't quickly become out of date, like the current minimum wage has.

Every time you fight for a higher minimum wage, without a maximum wage the ultra-wealthy will just raise prices on everything. Fight for a maximum wage.

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