If I offered you $4 to come to my house and make me dinner and wash my dishes afterwards, would you do it? Probably not. But that’s what a minimum wage worker at McDonald’s can do in a half hour.
What about $8 to come over and play with my kid and teach her to read and change her if she needs it and do all other assorted activities for an hour? Again, probably not. But that’s what a day care worker might do in an hour.
If I paid you $4, would you come over and make my bed and vaccume my room and do some of my laundry and clean my bathroom and pick up trash and dust? Probably not but that’s what a hotel maid might do in half an hour.
When you break it down into smaller increments it’s obvious that people need to be paid more, that the minium wage is pathetic.
“[I]t is actually more expensive to be poor than not poor. If you can’t afford the first month’s rent and security deposit you need in order to rent an apartment, you may get stuck in an overpriced residential motel. If you don’t have a kitchen or even a refrigerator and microwave, you will find yourself falling back on convenience store food, which—in addition to its nutritional deficits—is also alarmingly overpriced. If you need a loan, as most poor people eventually do, you will end up paying an interest rate many times more than what a more affluent borrower would be charged. To be poor—especially with children to support and care for—is a perpetual high-wire act.”
If you would go out of your way to argue how easy it is for capital to automate away jobs when labor costs become too high, then you should probably know that you’re giving all kinds of credibility to those of us who advocate fully-automated luxury communism. I mean, think about it: you’re arguing that so much of human labor ISN’T NECESSARY because said jobs can be done by machines, and yet you STILL want the bulk of humanity to pointlessly scrape by laboring for the capitalist class, receiving meager wages to buy the shit they helped generate in the first place. The above billboard is a THREAT. Let’s not mince words – that billboard is bourgeois propaganda designed to turn the working class against each other and against the broader goals of resource democratization. “If you fight for a basic livable wage, just know that you’re easily replaceable, peon!”
This is what leftists mean when they say that capitalism is an economic system filled to the brim with tensions and contradictions; it’s also what they mean when they say that capitalism inevitably produces its own gravediggers. Automation is one of those gravediggers, and it’s a major one at that. As more and more jobs become automated in the coming decades, the working class will face widespread dispossession, ramping up revolutionary class consciousness in the process. At that point, capitalism will either focus on generating more superfluous jobs for people to work or set about instituting a universal basic income – regardless, the point is to keep enough scraps flowing downward so that people don’t call for a broader system change. In this way, capitalism’s ruling class can maintain control over the wealth-producing means of production and imperialist capital accumulation can continue unrestrained.
For these reasons, “more jobs” and universal basic incomes are not enough. We need to democratize the broader social infrastructure and eliminate the profit system. If you recognize how possible it is to automate away human labor, then you should defenestrate yourself out of the Overton Window and use some political imagination – cut out the unnecessary jobs, automate all the labor you can, produce for human need rather than elite profit, and you end up with drastically reduced working hours and bountiful leisure time. This is the essence of fully-automated luxury communism – the natural conclusion of the conditions that capitalism set in motion.
Be wary of automation in the present climate, but always trace it back to the class struggle. Robots taking our jobs SHOULD be cause for celebration; why should we treat these potential liberators as harbingers of dispossession? Technological advancements are pushing us exponentially towards a de facto post-scarcity world, where everyone’s needs can be comfortably met alongside their desires for community and leisure and entertainment, and yet we’re held back by Empire’s insistence on keeping the means of production hoarded under the command of a superfluous ruling class. As long as we are divided into capitalists and workers, humanity will never know full liberation.
Okay, besides the fact that 88% of minimum wage workers are adults, I just don’t think the argument that teenagers don’t deserve a livable wage holds water. Teenagers are doing the same fucking work, and many help work to supplement their families’ income, whereas their parent/s are working minimum wage jobs trying to hold their heads above water. Not that this is relevant, because:
to argue that teenagers don’t deserve proper wages is to argue that their work isn’t equivalent to their adult counterparts, which is false. If people are doing the same fucking job they deserve the same fucking rates.
“No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country [..] and by living wages I mean more than a bare subsistence level - I mean the wages of decent living.” .. (Franklin D Roosevelt)
I’ve finally updated this graph I made 3 years ago that received a lot
of attention. It illustrates that the timing of new minimum wage
legislation coincides with major downturns in teen labor participation.
If a low skill worker such as a teenager cannot produce enough to
offset their federally mandated wage, employers will not hire them.
This has several effects:
1. Without jobs, a whole generation of America’s youth has become dependent upon government and family support to survive.
2. Without being able to get experience, people are forced to get higher education just to enter the job market.
3. This higher demand for college education is one reason tuitions have skyrocketed.
4. This further empowers the wealthy who can afford tuition, and
greatly disadvantages the poor who cannot. This in turn increases
One pro-business group is hoping technology can help thwart the “Fight for $15” campaign.
Looking to “make it easier for small businesses to add their voices to the minimum wage debate,” the Employment Policies Institute recently launched an iPhone app called Wage Engage.
It seeks to alert business owners when minimum wage legislation is introduced in their area – and then lobby against a wage hike measure “at the push of a button” by sending a generic message to lawmakers.
The app is an effort by the EPI, which receives funding from restaurant trade groups, to fight back against the massive traction workers have gained in the “Fight for $15” movement.