I stopped at McDonald’s the other morning after physical therapy. There wasn’t really enough time to go home before I needed to be at the elementary school to tutor. So I went into MickeyD’s for a snack.
My order: The largest ice tea they could give me and a yogurt with fruit and granola.
My bill: $2.12 counting tax.
What a deal. At least for me.
But what about the employee who served me? In all likelihood she is making minimum wage, $7.25 an hour. If she works a 40-hour week she makes $15,000 a year. If she only has herself in her “family,” that yearly wage puts her above the poverty guideline, but after she pays rent, can she afford to eat, or buy health or car insurance? If there is even one other person in her family whom she supports, she is now below the poverty line.
Lots of people smarter than I have strong opinions on the benefits or disadvantage of raising the minimum wage. I realize rock-bottom prices might have to go up—Can’t I agree to pay a bit more so someone else doesn’t live in poverty?
But I also hear about the hardship it will cause companies. Well, in 2012 “the five big publicly traded fast-food companies together earned 16 cents in profit for every dollar of revenue. That’s 73 percent better than the average U.S. company” (according to an AP article that appeared in Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era, September 3, 2013). I have trouble listening to them cry all the way to the bank. The CEO of McDonald’s in 2013 made $13.8 million. That’s 920 times what a full-time minimum-wage employee of his made. Is that really necessary?
You can learn more about what the issues are at Raise the Minimum Wage.
I can’t magically make the minimum wage go up, even by offering to pay more for a yogurt or an iced tea.
But I can encourage my government representatives to vote to raise the minimum wage.
And I can remind myself and others: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Yes, The Golden Rule. It’s worked for thousands of years; so why not now?
I’d want to make enough to live on. How about you?