My first job out of high school was working for the Department of Labor Wage & Hour Division, which enforced the minimum wage. That was in 1966 and the minimum wage was $1.40. It is now 2013 (47 years later) and that minimum has exploded to $7.25. An increase of over 500 percent! And still, the American worker wants more!
And at least one company is fighting back against these demands. Faced with threats of having fast-food workers demanding an increase in the minimum wage, McDonald’s has graciously created a Web site that clearly shows that the problem isn’t that their workers are not paid enough to survive — it is because the workers are not properly budgeting their money.
As the site shows, if only their workers will work full-time for them and then get a second minimum wage job for another 32 hours each week, they will be able to make it — with money left over at the end of the month. Of course, they need to find a place to live for only $600 per month and health insurance for $20 per month and only pay $90 per month for heating and cooling — but that shouldn’t be hard. And there is no money allocated for child care or food, but really, most minimum wage earners are teenagers and have no children or need to eat more than a couple of Big Macs a day, right? (Actually, it is estimated that more than 30 percent of lower paid employees are older people, raising children or elderly with increased health expenses).
As this budget shows, McDonald’s CEO wants to make sure his employees can live well — as he certainly does, since his income is 583 times that of an employee making the minimum wage and working full-time all year with no vacations. The average McDonald’s employee would have to work a million hours — or 114 years to earn as much as the CEO does in one year.
But to pay the employees any more would cut unfairly into the 135 percent profits earned between 2007 and 2011 and the $6 billion in dividends and stock buyouts in the last fiscal year. It would be un-American to think that those profits could be divided more equally between the workers and the company.
So, since low income workers have to depend upon food stamps and Medicaid to just survive, then the American taxpayers end up paying for the benefits that the very profitable employers no longer pay.
But, hey, to try to make companies like Walmart pay fair wages and benefits to their employees might mean that instead of being four of the richest billionaires in the Top 10 of America, the Walton family would fall to the Top 15 instead, and that would be truly tragic.