The Shameful Minimum Wage
4 April 2008
Honestly, if a business can’t afford to pay all its employees a livable wage, than that business should be considered a fail. What are businesses for? (The wrong answer is to say the enrichment of the owners at the expense of the employees, because that’s like Marxism or something, and we’re supposed to be past all that).
I remember when I was working for a minimum wage in Halifax, feeling both totally exploited and humiliated into enforced poverty. Further, the business had like 6 people on the payroll when it only really needed three. That’s where I got the idea that mismanagement should never be an excuse to pay people peanuts. And why I have no sympathy for the business owners who claim raising the minimum wage would be too hard on them. They’re not paying themselves a minimum wage are they?
My greater concern for raising the minimum wage is this society’s capacity to maintain an unfair status quo. As is pointed out in this article, adjusted for inflation, today’s Ontario minimum wage is equivalent to what it was thirteen years ago. I’ve noticed in the past that whenever the minimum wage goes up, so do the prices at Tim Hortons, (which I consider to be an unofficial index of inflation). So the gains of the working poor are immediately offset to erase them. The article begins by pointing out that the Ontario minimum wage went up last week. This week Tim Hortons had signs at its counters saying the prices of some menu items would rise next week. Two weeks ago, the Go Train commuter system rose its ticket prices too.
So, in 2010, when the minimum wage rises to $10 and hour, count on 1.60 coffees (rather than the current 1.42 lg) at your national coffee chain, and corresponding ticket prices across our belle province and sun-shiny country.
- Published as an intro to Goodreads 08w14:4
- Published to my blog, Apr 2008
- Sept 2015: this version produced