I got into an argument on reddit today about income inequality and minimum wage. It's really got me all riled up, so I'mma break down the main things that you need to consider if you are to properly form an opinion on something so vital in our capitalist society (I also have problems with capitalism, but I'm not annoyed enough to talk about that now)
Before you start evening thinking about stating your first point you need to consider the privilege you have, and the privilege you've had. I personally like this definition which I found here " Privilege is: Any unearned benefit or advantage one receives in society by nature of their identity. Examples of aspects of identity that can afford privilege: Race, Religion, Gender Identity, Sexual Orientation, Class/Wealth, Ability, or Citizenship Status"
Whenever I have observed articles that say there's no such thing as "income inequality" and demonize "poor people" the writers generally seem to come from a place of middle class "I followed the traditional path" privilege. (In this case, the traditional path is go to uni/collage, get qualifications and walk into stable employment) In this case, to properly empathise with these issues, those who come from a place of privilege need to acknowledge that they didn't necessarily do anything different from those earning less than them, they just happened to luck out with circumstances, leading to their privilege.
Before I start my rant, I'm going to say this: All of my views and opinions come from a place of privilege. I'm fortunate enough to have had a financially stable childhood, and I'm fortunate that I have a job that pays well enough to support me enough that I'm not living paycheck to paycheck. I've also never been placed in a position where I've needed to call upon government assistance to keep me fed/keep a roof over my head. I am by no means wealthy, but I am comfortable. That being said, income inequality makes me really angry. I believe that no one is inherently more deserving than anyone else, but those who deny the existence of income inequality believe the opposite.
One of the biggest parts of this debate concerns minimum wage, government assistance and quality of life. I am of the opinion that anyone working full time and earning minimum wage should be able to afford to support themselves (meaning that the minimum wage is set at a livable rate). Unfortunately in many areas of the globe those who earn minimum wage still need government assistance because their jobs don't pay enough for them to live. It's mind boggling how many people think that this is acceptable. Ultimately the pockets of the employers are the only ones profiting from this arrangment. Having a low minimum wage means they don't have to pay their employees as much, meaning they make more profit. This means that their employees loose out AND the tax payer/ government (because they have to use taxpayer dollars to keep the underpaid employees afloat)
The main argument I see for the minimum wage to be kept so low is that places (usually fast food) paying that amount of money have "unskilled laborers" and "that job's super simple, so it's not worth it to pay more". Quite frankly I think this is ridiculous. Every job, no matter how much "training" it takes to be qualified for, is hard and takes skill. Yes, some jobs are more specalised, but it doesn't mean that those that aren't specalised should be worth almost literally nothing.
Another question I find myself asking is why these people think it's ok that someone earning minimum wage, or someone who is poor should have a bare minimum lifestyle. Why are they expected to live a life without pleasure just because they don't earn as much as other people. This can also be said of those receiving government assistance. Why should they have to deny themselves of all pleasure because they don't earn enough on their own to survive?
The next argument I'd like to address is "but I see poor people with nonessential items" There are a few reasons this argument is ridiculous, and they're all to do with circumstance. That "luxury" item you saw that person with might have been purchased before they found themselves in poverty. It might have been a gift. They might have put a dollar away every week for 3 years to be able to afford that item . And maybe they got super lucky and the thrift shop (I own many expensive designer things which I purchased for one's of dollars at the thrift shop). You just don't know, and because you don't know, you shouldn't judge, especially if you own any "non essentials" or "luxury" items. You don't deserve them any more than anyone else regardless of how much you earn in comparison.
Finally (this one is my favourite) "Why don't they just get a better job/ask for a pay rise/work their way out of it?" The job market today is cut throat. Let me tell you a little story. Before I got my first job I was job searching for 2 years. I sent out approximately 1 - 2 applications a day (I was studying at school and studying music full time). In that time I got 1 interview, which was unsuccessful. The aforementioned first job I recieved because I knew someone in that workplace (I still work there today in a different role) I was incredibly lucky to have this job given to me. Even so, I completely sympathise when people talk about the lack of jobs in the job market (because guess what!? there aren't enough jobs to go round!)
Anyway, these are just some very brief thoughts/ a big rant on income inequality and minimum wage. After the closed minded class-est bigotry I saw on reddit I just had to spew some words out.
I would also love to know your opinion on this subject (especially if you have anything constructive to add!)