Autumn F. Michigan

Pay Raise, Price Raise, Job Loss.

Fast food and other employees all across the country have been pushing for minimum wage to be raised, but this change could lead to a price increase, loss of jobs, and further computerization of the country.

Dear Future President,

I am not here to say that the job market is perfect, nor am I here to say that it is completely horrible. I think that it can be fixed, but raising the minimum wage is not the solution.  Millions all over the country argue that boosting the minimum wage would give families the money they deserve, but there is evidence that proves otherwise; raising the minimum wage to 15 dollars will bring about a higher cost of living and a predicted loss of half of low wage jobs like those provided by the fast food industry. Low wage jobs will be priced into extinction.

First, the massive rise in employee expense will drive employers everywhere to either hike up the product price and/or start reducing their workforce.  For now, let's focus on the impact of price increase.  Inflation is a well-known term but not every American has a full grip on the concept.  If you are the President of the United States, I expect that you are one of the Americans that know how it works.  But due to the fact that Hillary Clinton could possibly be reading this, I'll explain it nice and simple.  Inflation is a general rise in prices.  In this case, it is caused when business owners try to compensate for the cost of employee pay raises by increasing product prices. In turn, this makes necessary items more expensive because of the decreased value of the dollar, ultimately increasing the cost of living.  Consequently, the presumed benefits of increased wages would be diminished because of price increases for the low-wage worker.

Again, for some stores raising the product prices would not be a very good idea at all, as the public is known to react quite negatively to increased price. This is especially true of the fast food industry, as consumers expect something fast and cheap;  significant price increases in this sector often deter buyers and decrease demand. To avoid increasing the cost of products, many fast food franchises plan on firing workers and replacing them with self-service robots called Kiosks. Wendy's CEO, Todd Penegor, has said, “we continue to look at initiatives and how we work to offset any impacts of future wage inflation through technology initiatives, whether that’s customer self-order kiosks, whether that’s automating more in the back of the house in the restaurant. And you’ll see a lot more coming on that front later this year from us.” In the video I have attached below, it says that McDonald's may also be following the "robotic worker" trend.  So, if the minimum wage does end up coming to 15 dollars an hour, workers who fall into this category are likely lose their jobs to a robot.  They will have,  in essence, destroyed the very job market available for their skill level.  Those that still have their jobs will be likely to have fewer hours because employers can reduce non-key work times with robots as well. 

While I can understand how a few more dollars an hour over time could make the  lives of low-wage workers a little more manageable and stress-free, I cannot support increasing their wages because they are working in a job market that requires low skill and little to no training beyond a high school diploma.   In a Fox News interview (below), a fast food employee is heard saying that,   "We do too much."  Undoubtedly, working in fast food is mundane, resulting in boredom and perhaps job dissatisfaction.  Restaurant work can be grueling as employees often spend many hours on their feet. But calling fast food work "hard" or suggesting it requires "too much" of the worker simply does not define the effort required nor justify increased pay. 

Consider the wages of other jobs like the paramedic.  Are fast food employees working harder than a person who saves lives?  Which job requires more skill?  More training?  More attention to detail?  In the following video, the average pay for a paramedic is discussed (around 12 dollars an hour), and this is for someone that has gone through actual training and schooling for a job, not just out of high school or even for some still in high school. What about someone in a skilled trade like welding?  My brother worked as a welder. He worked 2nd shift  in temperatures near 110 degrees Fahrenheit, wearing a protective leather jacket while lifting and welding heavy, metal boxes for hours only to earn 13 dollars an hour. Now, tell me how on Earth a McDonald's worker deserves more in wages than either the paramedic or the welder?

I know that both of the presidential candidates have completely polar views on this topic and many other topics, but I hope that whichever candidate becomes the next President of the United States will give serious thought to the impact raising the minimum wage for low-wage jobs will have on our economy. I really do pity the workers at these places who are not high school students or young individuals. These are the people that lacked either the academic aptitude, skill, or grit to succeed and obtain higher skilled, higher wage employment in the job market.  And while I can feel compassion for them, I am not compelled to support raising wages for low-skilled jobs.  I realize that when I see signs  saying, "Fight for 15" I actually see, "give my job to a machine." I see the impending extinction of the low-wage job.  What will happen to low-skilled workers when jobs suitable for them no longer exist?  I feel there are other ways to improve the situation for these workers, and raising the minimum wage to 15 dollars is not the correct way of doing it.  Future President, I hope that you will work with congress to create an alternative yet viable solution to address the needs of the low-wage, low-skilled worker that does not include raising the minimum wage.

Your concerned voter,

Autumn F.
Whittemore-Prescott Jr/Sr High School

Writing for Publication Fall 2016

Writing for Publication class semester I 2016-17

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