Minimum Wage

I worked for minimum wage when it was pegged at $1.60 per hour. One summer at Szabo Foods, I made $12.80 per day or about $278 per month before deductions. Of course, our monthly payments for a car ($60) and a one bedroom apartment rental ($150) were also low by today’s standards. Luckily my wife earned around $400 a month which allowed us to eat an unhealthy diet, pay my tuition, and buy gas. Car repairs were a disaster and we shopped at thrift stores for clothes. During the school semesters, I only worked ten hours a week for a grand total of $16. We could not afford children. When our income rose, we had three sons and realized too late that we would never be able to afford children. Our families lived on the West Coast and we lived in Virginia, so we missed three Thanksgivings and Christmases and proximity freebies. Before leaving Seattle, we could at least swipe food from parental freezers. But we were young, in love, and happy. As I reflect on current minimum wage debates, I am appalled at historical flaws in human logic. If you do not accept a religion that teaches loving your neighbor, we will burn you at the stake. We must continually go to war and even wipe out cities with atom bombs so we can all live in peace. Slavery is necessary or the economic system will collapse and everyone will starve. A living wage would bankrupt businesses and spread unemployment. We can justify the most awful things with rationalizations and reductions to the absurd. No premise is too ridiculous if it favors the people who are more equal than others. We all want to be rewarded for hard work but the hardest work, like picking cotton, is usually done by the most unrewarded people.

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