Thomas Atkins: I want a job.
Employer: You aren't a very useful employee, so I'll only pay you $3.00/hour.
Thomas Atkins: That's the best offer I've gotten. I'll take it.
* Thomas Atkins works 40 hours/week at $3.00/hour for $120/week.
Government: The poor people need higher wages. Let's set the minimum wage are $5.00/hour.
Employer: You're not worth $5.00/hour and I'm not allowed to pay you less. Sorry, you're fired.
Thomas Atkins: Now I'm getting nothing.
Government: The people without work need support. We'll give them $100/week to keep housed/fed/clothed. (See Welfare)
Thomas Atkins: I'm still getting less then before they set minimum wage
Government: We'll raise the Welfare pay out to $120/week.
Thomas Atkins: Cool! I'm getting paid as much as before but I don't have to work! I like it!
Consumers: Now we're paying him with our tax dollars to do nothing but we no longer have the service(s)/product(s) he created when he had a job.
A "Big Issue" for conservatives whenever there is an election around the corner. The fact is that the majority of businesses who might pay employees at minimum wage have already moved those jobs to Mexico or Taiwan. In this economy, not many unskilled workers can hope to get an employer who's willing to employ United States workers.

But just wait until there is an election year. You would think, to hear the conservatives talk, that every corporate CEO who belongs to a Country Club will be bankrupted if the minimum wage goes up.

This lie will soon be told once too often, but you can bet it won't be before Georgie! gets through running for The United States' Most Pitiful Reason to Vote.


Let's be realistic here: it's not crazy to have a minimum wage, and it makes sense to have that wage rise along with inflation (which it has, more or less, throughout history). Both Democrats and Republicans know this in their hearts. But since they both get so much political capital from their big fights, it makes more sense for them to argue rather than to tie the minimum wage to the rate of inflation.
The original reason for having a minimum wage was that some employers would pay as little as they could to their employees in order to have a higher profit margin. A minimum wage puts a limit on how low wages can go. However, minimum wage is not always a living wage (especially if it's supporting more than one person). And, contrary to popular belief, most people working for minimum wage are working because they have to. The service sector is an increasingly large part of the labour market, and many people of all ages and educational backgrounds are working these dead-end jobs. And even those kids you see flipping burgers at McDonald's probably aren't there for the fun of it, or simply for spending money. Many young people work part-time (or, more often full-time, or have more than one job, especially in the summer) to put money away for school, or simply to put a roof over their heads.

Any worker 'worth' less than minimum wage is unlikely to last long at any of these often demanding jobs. Most (if not all) minimum wage workers make a lot more than $5.75 per hour for the business that profit from their labour.

In The Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx describes the minimum wage as "that quantum of the means of subsistence which is absolutely requisite to keep the laborer in bare existence as a laborer". When he wrote this, the minimum wage was the average wage being paid to the proletarians - the working class.

Economics can be used to explain how a price floor (or, in the case of minimum wage, a wage floor) causes a surplus of the product in question, in this case unskilled labor. Basically, because the employers are forced to pay their employees more than they would otherwise – that is the main reason and reasoning behind the minimum wage, after all – they hire fewer workers to make up for the extra cost. Thus, there is a greater supply of unskilled labor than a demand for it – a surplus. Aside from McDonaldization, which is not a good thing, I really can’t think of a good reason to want to hire unskilled labor in the first place.

As for firms making more money from minimum-wage-workers than they’re being paid, well, for one thing, that may not even be true; keep in mind that every dollar spent on minimum wage is one dollar less of profits. Second, a firm’s making more money than it spends is kind of the entire point behind capitalism: profits = revenueexpenses, or the simple case profits = value of work - minimum wage. And third, anyone living in poverty while their bosses get rich from their work certainly has a right to change jobs.

There is no minimum wage that could ever solve most of the problems relating to unskilled labor – the surplus thereof, the dead end jobs, the lack of improvement available to the working poor. In my opinion, the minimum wage causes more troubles than it solves, and resources should be spent providing many more education opportunities to the poor than are currently available. A requirement for all firms to make all of their revenue and expense information public and easily accessible to everyone would allow Thomas Atkins the chance to see his true worth to the company.

A song by They Might Be Giants off their 3rd album Flood. The song is only 47 seconds long and consists only of the lyrics "Minimum wage!" followed by a whipcrack and a nice little synth melody. While the song seems incredibly simple, like all TMBG songs, it still manages to garner a suprising amount of interpretations. A la Particle Man, The End of the Tour, Hot Cha, Ana Ng and many many more.

The most popular intepretation is that the song simply represents the pain of being a slave to the typical, everyday minimum wage job. The whipcrack symbolizes that pain, since frequently throughout time, various indentured servants have been struck with whips to stay in line.

Intepretations have also been made about the song's short length, saying it is representative of the small reward that minimum wage workers get for working such difficult jobs.

The song has two synth lines, one very comforting and smooth, the other a bit more urgent which begs the intrepetation of some that believe the song has a city vs. country theme. Stating that while minimum wage can feel like slavery in a city. However, in the country, it's more likely to live a comfortable life on minimum wage.

The song features John Flansburgh on vocals, John Linnell on keyboards and in a guest apperance on the whip is Roger Moutenot, who mixed "Flood."

As of this writing the minimum wage stands at $5.15 an hour for non-farm related labor in the United States. This has not been changed since 1998. There has been increasing debate on raising the minimum wage since it’s been so long since the last increase. Since this probably isn't going to happen any time soon on the federal level some states have taken it upon themselves to raise the minimum wage. In my state, Pennsylvania, the idea is to raise it it to $7.25 an hour and then peg it to inflation thereafter. Most entry level service jobs in my city, Pittsburgh, pay much less than this, right now most places start at $6.00 an hour. So such a raise would be most welcome by many people including myself. Personally, I want a job that pays at least $7.00 an hour to make ends meet. I've refused to consider any job that pays substantially lower than this and as luck would have it, I haven't been able to find a job for several months. I'm also a bit picky; I won't work in fast food ever again. I'd rather be homeless, and at the end of the month I just might be.

Why am I going off about my problems? Because none of my friends wants to listen to me complain anymore that's why!

But more to the point: The capitalist system of a free labor market only exists in reality if you are comfortable with the idea of being homeless. I am, but most people aren't. Most people would take that $6.00 an hour job, or even worse that $5.15 an hour job as a cashier at Giant Eagle rather than be homeless.

The minimum wage is a manifestation of the fear of making a living a different way; a fear of living outside of the capitalist wage labor system. If wages aren't regularly raised, there is a bigger chance that people might abandon the system for something that works. But that's not the whole truth, its not an exclusively bourgeoisie fear. The minimum wage is the end result of a negotiation between the owners of capital and the sellers of labor. It is the product of a mutual fear of being left in the cold outside of the system.

The homeless are here to scare you; you too can sink this low! You too can be despised and ridiculed by society! But I'm not afraid! I'll let ya'll in on a secret: you don't need a job to survive.

I won't let fear take away my dignity and work for next to nothing pushing hamburgers and frosties. What dignity you may ask? You haven't showered in weeks! You SMELL! Women won't speak to you! You eat out of the garbage! You wander around all day doing nothing! You have no dignity!

But at the end of the day, I know that my life is a choice.

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