My 17 y/o daughter and I had an interesting conversation over the holiday break which sparked my daughter’s interest into looking at what other teens make per hour at their part-time jobs. I tried to explain to her that she was very lucky making $10 per hour as well as only having to work 20 hours a week. She is actually pretty damn lucky because her part-time job is working at the church daycare as a teacher’s aide. She has had this job for a little over a year and half. She has never had to work at a fast food place or a place of retail so she knows nothing about how it actually is in a real marketplace for employment. She is lucky in other ways as well, like every bit of the money she earns is only earmarked for things she wishes to spend it on. She has no bills with the exception of putting fuel in her truck. In my opinion, knowing how I grew up, she is extremely lucky she can spend her paychecks as she pleases. She is smart with her money to a degree, she always puts some away in her saving account. She has a hard time comprehending that “most” teens her age with a part-time job are only making $7.25 per hour and work in less than ideal conditions sometimes.
She says I was lucky as I explained to her what I did for money when I was a teen. I made what I thought was decent money at the time back in 1983 because that is when I really started getting paid. I worked with my dad who was a concrete contractor for many years before for basically spending money but never anything to save. I learned many skills working with him that I still value to this day. I was never afraid to bust my ass working in the Houston heat & humidity and not see a dime for my efforts. When I needed money all I had to do is ask, well, most of the time. As the summer between 8th and 9th grade approached I had already obtained my driver’s license, I already had a truck (rebuilt from parts from the junkyard where I found it), I was dating, and all I needed was a part-time job to pay for all the things I wanted to do. Back in 1983 the state minimum wage was $3.35 or something like that per hour. Where I lived teens had a limited choice to part-time employment like working at a fast food place, the theatre (an old singleplex), the car wash, a grocery store, or out on the farms and ranches. My dad offered up $700.00 per month cash (over the summer) to keep working with him and when school started back up it was going to be $350.00 a month cash. Doesn’t seem like much by todays prices, but back then the money would last me a long time. So, no, I never had to go get a minimum wage job while in high school.
The conversation evolved back to today and the struggles over the minimum wages at fast food places. This is where I was told my asshole side came out to play. My daughter wanted to agree with the fight, the fight to change paying employees at least $15.00 to flip burgers, get my order wrong, and waste my damn time. Oh, wait, the money paid isn’t supposed to reflect the quality of service you receive now is it. More money does not mean the skill level and caring just went up. I think it’s a joke. And, no, I don’t know the struggles of the people working in that industry or any other for that matter. Plus, I’m not a fast food eater, mostly because I hate paying for shitty service, shitty attitude, and shitty food. No, you may not argue that everything would be better if these poor mistreated people made more money. You’ll never be able to convince me that paying $15.00 per hour will make the fast food experience better for the customer, and if you believe that bullshit it might be time to re-evaluate your past dining experiences. People, in general, want everything handed to them while they provide little or no effort. Why no, right? Society has been moving in this direction for many years, right? We are victims of our own bullshit, right? Wrong! Get a job, work your ass off, work your way up, try harder than the next person, and stamp out your place in this fucking society as a person that has something to offer back besides an open hand waiting for something to dropped into it. What ever happened to “earning a living” or “working hard” or “getting a job”? They don’t exist, people just sit on the couch and wait for the government check.
I sound a little bitter don’t I? Or do I? Don’t mistake my honesty about all of this for being bitter, just consider that I’m real tired of all the people who complain but are not willing to get a damn job and when they get a job for unskilled labor they complain that they are not paid enough. I can speak for where I live locally and the teens don’t want to work. The ones that do are not doing it for weekend cash they are doing it to help support their household. Those who aren’t teens, what should they be paid? Good question since working at a fast food place is still considered being unskilled labor. I don’t know anymore, it seems, at least on the surface, that the debate will continue about minimum wage, especially in the fast food industry. I guess people are no longer happy with the opportunity to merely have a job and unfortunately in our society there is an actual need for an unskilled labor force. If people want better for themselves then they need to better prepare themselves to be in a different job market that earns more money, not ask it to be handed to them like it is today in the here and now.
So, what should be the wages, the limitations, and the requirements? Hell, I’m in my mid-40s and had to have a second full-time job to make ends meet, and that is with a wife who is employed full-time. I didn’t know all I needed to do was whine a little and it would all be handed to me with no effort on my part. This is the world we live in, everything isn’t equal and nor should it be equal because we all don’t offer equal qualifications and/or work ethics. Be assured that the government will be forced to increase the minimum wage because of all the political pressure that is currently being applied. And, sadly, when the enablers get their way, we as a society, will once again take a few steps backwards. Where does the extra money come from? The consumer will be having the wage increase passed on to him/her through everything they purchase which is soon going to mean that what I make an hour won’t be enough, according to the same standards. Yea, I know, I can speak until I’m blue in the face and still get told I have absolutely no argument. Well, this has been my opinion and I think it will be a giant mistake and the people being served at the local fast food restaurant and at other places which use unskilled labor will soon be seeing a cost increase because the labor still has to be paid for by employers.
Where do we go from here? In my personal opinion, I think that this will just be another nail in the coffin for any business, large or small, here in the United States. Many places already operate on a shoestring budget just to keep the doors open and make some profit after paying the bills. Your right, fuck ’em. Why should I care what people are getting paid. Part of me thinks about the amount of blood, sweat, and tears it took me to get where I am at today. Part of me dislikes it when anything is just handed over to those who are not willing to earn it. I was raised different from that, I was raised in a manner that made me realize I needed to be able to provide something in exchange for compensation. I raise my own children the same way and not look for the free ride. Hopefully I’m alone in the way I raise my kids because if so then this next generation of people entering the workforce are truly fucked. I wonder what would be dropped in my open hand being a white male, 45, skilled, educated, and currently employed. Anything extra for me? I didn’t think so. But I already knew this fact. Anyway, as a society in the United States, we keep throwing money into the burning caldron, before long the people like myself that actually have to earn a living will be out of money and there will be no help, there will be only dust in the bankrupt coffers. Too melodramatic?
I never wanted to be a millionaire, I still don’t want to be a millionaire, and I doubt I will ever want to be a millionaire. Why? I like my life and the people in it. We work hard for what we earn and live a lifestyle which has been great for all of us, all too much money will do is corrupt what we consider to be perfect. Y’all may think one’s life revolves around money, I used to think the same way, but when you have nothing it always brings a smile to your face when you can put a little aside for a rainy day. I’m not saying the minimum wage is accurate, but I’m not the judge of that either, and it is called “minimum” for a reason. The only place people can go when they are on the bottom is up, many people acknowledge that the journey will be long and hard, others prefer to demand something without offering anything more in return. As much as we would all like to think we are worth our weight in gold, the reality is that if we were then we would no longer have value. I’ll leave it up to y’all because y’all should make your own decisions based on your individual opinions. The minimum wage is out of the hands of the “people” and will always be decided by politicians who take only their status into consideration. Fuck it, roll the dice. I hope everyone gets what they are expecting.