Minimum Wage

During class a few weeks ago, we played this game called SPENT, where we simulated living a month with minimum wage, which was around $8-9. Over the course of the month, the player would have different lifestyle choices such as paying for health care, fixing a damaged car, whether to send your kid to a birthday party without a gift, etc. As the days went on, your life suffered. Root canals, being fired from your job, having to take loans from your friends because you couldn’t afford your rent, were all choices that had to be made. Depending on how well you did when playing SPENT, you would end up with x amount of dollars at the end of the month; but rent was due the very next day which would mean you would be broke. This is a harsh reality for many people all over the world. So many people are unemployed or earning minimum wage, and they still have families to feed. For people like us, we get to go home with a stable roof over our head and food on the table, not having to worry about bills to pay and the fact that we make minimum wage.

The topic of minimum wage is a widely discussed issue that has both negative repercussions and positive. Kevin Hassett, an Economist at the American Enterprise Institute and former advisor for John McCain and Mitt Romney believes that raising the minimum wage to $15 would change the wealth gap even more; making workers receive bigger checks and some workers losing their jobs. Even though the unemployment rate is already so low, giving people more money may be beneficial to some, but to others it would be detrimental.  “If wages are

higher, employers are less likely to take a chance on people with less experience because it’s a big investment. Fewer people would get a shot at proving themselves” (CNN Should the Minimum Wage be Raised?). Being paid more money creates a bigger responsibility for the worker to do well in his job. It is more risky to hire someone who is less qualified if they would be earning $15 per hour rather than $9 per hour.

Jared Bernstein, an economist at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and economic adviser to Vice President Biden believes that, “The ‘simple textbook prediction’ that raising wages results in job loss had been proved wrong and too simplistic. There are various ways in which the higher wages are offset that don’t include losing jobs, including redistributing profits and adapting prices”(CNN Should the Minimum Wage be Raised?). It is commonly believed that raising the minimum wage would lead to a higher unemployment rate, but Bernstein thinks that a possible redistribution of wealth and prices would change to accommodate the change in wages.

Regardless of what you believe the minimum wage should be, there is an obvious problem in poverty rates around the country. Some people have to take loans from their friends and even donate plasma for spare cash, like what happened in the game spent. Fifteen dollars an hour may be too high of an increase in minimum wage, but a slightly higher increase such as $11 or $12 may suffice. Playing the game SPENT was fun, yet it was sad realization that people are struggling to survive with minimum wage.

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