My name is Vanessa Castro, and I’m writing this letter for a school project, but also with the intentions to inform you on some issues I have done some research on, regarding the current minimum wage. In the history of our nation, this has been a big problem, which is why I’m addressing it to you today. Living off of today’s minimum wage affects many, and as a congresswomen I feel that you have the opportunity and the ability to help resolve this situation.
The issue many find with having the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is that families across the country need to find their families with basic life necessities, and with this wage I don’t think this is possible. In the 1800s, there were many early labor unions like the American Federation of Labor, who focused on specific workers’ issues including their wages. A lot of the early labor unions later provoked organized strikes, leading to involvement of the militia, and violence harming large amounts of people.
Overall, I don’t believe this type of violence will occur again in today’s society, although there will always be the possibility of protests. Yes there are two sides to the debate on whether minimum wage should be raised, but by doing so many benefits will come to all. Regardless, many sources I have read mention that the majority of Americans support this action. In this letter I will explain to you why I believe the minimum wage should be raised to $10.10 per hour because it can aid those struggling to support themselves and their families, boost the economic and job growth, and possibly reduce crime rates.
As I mentioned earlier, in the history of the United States regarding the 18th century, we can observe the start of urbanization industrialization. We know these two as what gave this country a boost of development on a wide scale. Sure, there are many good things that came with them that changed our economy and society for the better, but there are also some factors worth mentioning that are rather negative. We can see a rise on child labor, poor and hazardous conditions in sweatshops, and long working hours for low wages.
This style of living put many in harm for diseases, and oftentimes even death. During this time, there was a large mass of the population in growing cities undergoing extreme conditions of poverty. According to to theusaonine.com labor workers in factories and mines had to work 60 hours per week, getting paid as little as 25 cents per hour. This wage was what was originally set. Since then we have managed to raise it to $7.25, but this still brings up problems. Back to the 1800s, often times children had to miss school and start working at a young age in order to support their already poor family. Many families lived in tenements, poor and overcrowded apartment buildings was sometimes the only option for the underprivileged class. With poor sanitation/health, a dangerous environment, and children receiving little to no education, something had to be done.
The rise of labor unions began to fight for the rights of workers. They fought for change in the many factors mentioned earlier like the horrible working conditions, child labor, low wages, and long hours. In relation to what we are dealing with currently, there have been various protests for a better minimum wage for the same reasons. Present day protests like one that happened Memphis, gathered many fast food workers supporting a rise on the minimum wage to be $15. Fox News interviewed Ashley Cathey, a Memphis fast food worker, “Fast-food cooks and cashiers like me are fighting for higher pay and union rights, the same things striking sanitation workers fought for 50 years ago…We’re not striking and marching just to commemorate what they did – we’re carrying their fight forward. And we won’t stop until everyone in this country can be paid $15 an hour and has the right to join a union” (Kazin, 2018). Because of events of protest that are happening because of minimum wage is why I think something has to be done,
Although the point of this letter was to explain to you why we should raise the minimum wage, it’s fair to include some of the opposing viewpoints, and explain why they are invalid. One of the opposing sides’ main arguments involves how raising the minimum wage would disadvantage low skilled workers. This side of the debate believe that these low skilled workers cannot justify higher wages, therefore don’t deserve this raise. Other slightly more skilled workers will be put at a disadvantage if they are in the came careers as lower skilled workers.
I disagree with this standpoint because even if an individual is less educated and then put into jobs with minimum wages, life is already pretty rough for them. Why put more pressure on these workers? They probably struggle with giving full meals to their family, while at the same time providing a shelter, proper sanitation, and paying the bills. According to Drew DeSilver, a senior writer for Pew Research says, “those who make more than the minimum wage in their state but less than $10.10 an hour, and therefore also would benefit if the federal minimum is raised to that amount” (Pew Research Center). I believe these people will benefit by being able to access more necessities they weren’t able to with lesser earnings. Another opposing viewpoint I found in my research was that by raising the minimum wage, the housing costs will go up as well. If this were to happen, I don’t believe it should do much of a change that minimum wage overall shouldn’t be raised.
If this did happen, I believe the lower skilled workers would regardless be more able to provide themselves or their families basic necessities. “According to a 2013 poll by Oxfam America, 66% of US workers earning less than $10 an hour report that they ‘just meet’ or ‘don’t even have enough to meet’ their basic living expenses, and 50% say that they are frequently worried about affording basic necessities such as food”(procon.org). In my point of view, there could be many reasons on why minimum wage won’t be beneficial enough, but putting yourself in the shoes of those really struggling, I think these points rule out because there are more factors contributing to the debate that the wage should be increased.
As for the side of the debate that is for raising minimum wage, one can view many effective reasons on why it’s beneficial to raise it. Firstly, it will aid those who are in the poorer sector. According to a 2015 report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a worker must earn at least $15.50 an hour (over twice the federal minimum wage) to be able to afford to rent a ‘modest’ one-bedroom apartment, and $19.35 for a two-bedroom unit (more than 2.5 times the minimum wage)”(procon.org).
I think that if the minimum wage would stay the same as it is right now, the amount of hours worked for unerprieveled individuals will go up just to maintain the place they stay in, even though it is probably not the best of environments or conditions to be living in. According to an article CNBC, “And the gap is even wider in some high-cost cities. A household with two adults and two children in Washington, D.C., for example, would need to budget more than $106,000 a year to make ends meet, researchers found.
That makes it the most expensive area in the country for a family that size, without taking into account discretionary spending” (Imbert,2015). I believe in families with parents working on minimum wage, it’s almost not questionable that the children when at the right age must also start to work to support the costs of living. This also might affect the kid’s education, because of the pressure of helping their parents maintain their household may distract them from what’s going on in school, which is the backbone of their future.Another valid point of this debate is that by raising the minimum wage, the economy will experience a boost. A 1994 study by economists Alan Krueger, PhD, and David Card, PhD, compared employment in the fast food industry after New Jersey raised its minimum wage by 80 cents, while Pennsylvania did not.
Krueger and Card observed that job growth in the fast food industry was similar in both states, and found ‘no indication that the rise in the minimum wage reduces employment'(procon.org). This piece of evidence is important because people on the opposing side of the debate argue that the employment will go down for a numerous amount of reasons. I believe that there is little to no association between these two factors, therefore the wage should not deteriorate the economy, but on the contrary will spur economic job growth. Another point that supports this reason is a prediction made by the Economic Policy Institute, “that a minimum wage increase from the current rate of $7.25 an hour to $10.10 would inject $22.1 billion net into the economy and create about 85,000 new jobs over a three-year phase-in period” (procon).
I feel like the opposing side of the debate can’t really argue on this because there is no correlation between overall economic and job growth with increasing the wage by a few dollars. Lastly, a reason supporting the raise would be the reduction is crime rates. In a 2013 study by a group of researchers they found that, “higher wages for low-income individuals reduce crime by providing viable and sustainable employment… raising the minimum wage to $12 by 2020 would result in a 3 to 5 percent crime decrease (250,000 to 540,000 crimes) and a societal benefit of $8 to $17 billion dollars.’ (Fernandez, Holman, Pepper.)
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