Minimum Way-ge Too Much

There has been a lot of talk over the last few months regarding the minimum amount of money employers must pay workers for their labor. In the United States, the current federal minimum wage (FMW) is $7.25 per hour.

On September 1, 1997, the FMW increased to $5.15, up from the $4.75 effective of October 1, 1996. The FMW remained unchanged for almost 10 years. July of 2007 marked the beginning of a three-year, annual increase in the FMW. On July 24 of each of those three years, the FMW rose to $5.85, $6.55, and finally, to $7.25 on July 24, 2009, where it has since remained.

Although it was several years ago, I recall never receiving an increase in my salary on July 24 during each of those three years.

In Corporate America, the only ways in which I know to earn a higher salary is through positive job performance. If you perform well at your job, you receive a promotion, along with a higher salary. The argument could be made for annual merit increases; however, merit increases are not mandatory and are dependent on the company you work for (I worked for a company who said all employees would receive an annual merit increase, yet they were not truthful in their statement).

Why, then, should workers in a minimum-wage job be given a “promotion” and a pay raise by the federal government when my salary (along with millions of other Americans) stays stagnant? Assuming my salary does not increase in conjunction with a raise in the FMW, my job, position and salary become devalued.

Let’s assume my salaried rate per hour comes out to $20 per hour. Currently, with a FMW of $7.25, my salaried rate per hour is $12.75 higher than the FMW. If Uncle Sam increases the FMW to $10 per hour, suddenly my salaried rate per hour is only $10 higher than the FMW.

My job just lost value. The money spent on a college education to obtain a degree that helped me earn a salaried position just became less important.

So, why should senators in Washington have the right to devalue my salary that I have worked hard for and earned? The person flipping burgers at the FMW was just given a pay raise and “closed the gap” on what my degree has since earned me.

The argument is that the current FMW of $7.25 is too low and that a worker cannot provide for his or her family at that rate. It sounds like an excuse to me; an excuse to give those unwilling to work harder for a higher hourly wage a free promotion and devalue those who have a higher hourly wage.

If the FMW is too low for you to support your family, work harder. Make yourself better. Do what you have to do in order to provide for your family. Depend on yourself instead of the federal government. It’s your choice, not anyone else’s. If the federal government is handing out free promotions, why are those making above the FMW excluded? They got theirs and I want mine.

The genesis of this debate stems from a recent group who are lobbying to raise the FMW to $15.00 per hour–more than doubling the current FMW.

What? $15 per hour? At that rate, a person working 40 hours per week would have an annual gross income of over $31,000. Meaning, the least amount of money anyone working in America with an hourly wage at or above the FMW would make, is more than some salaried teachers and public service personnel currently make.

Combined with the current student loan debt crisis in America, making an astronomical increase in the FMW would highly devalue the millions of jobs and salaries of those who worked so hard to obtain a “good” job. Being content in a job flipping burgers, yet complaining about the FMW associated with it is not something others in the workforce should have to pay for.

Make your own choices. Do what needs to be done to support your family and live the life you want. Don’t sit back and complain to the government about your personal frustrations and wait to get your “freebie.”

What should be done? Should the FMW be increased? To what rate? Should it be mandated that any increase in the FMW requires a subsequent percentage increase in salaries and wages of everyone who make above the FMW?

If the government is handing out free promotions and pay increases, I want mine–just like those who would rather complain than put in the work.

I think it’s time to write my congressman.

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