This whole "living wage" argument has been in the news lately, so I figured I'd start a thread about it. First, there have been a number of fast food strikes where the strikers are demanding better conditions and a pay raise to $15/hour.
Now, Washington DC's city council is seriously considering passing an ordinance that would force big box stores like WalMart to pay a "living wage" of least $12/hour:
I'm torn on this. Having been a retail peon in college (which wasn't nearly as bad as being an Army peon but still sucked), I get the push for better conditions and slightly more pay. Demanding rather high salaries for what essentially unskilled labor is what I have a problem with. A lot of these jobs aren't supposed to be something you can raise a family on. And the higher the wages go, the more it causes unintended consequences such as seniors on a fixed income not being able to afford the price hikes, or actually killing job opportunities for the working poor as companies do more with fewer employees. Not to mention that a lot of fast food restaurants are owned by smaller franchises where the owner is not some fat cat 1 percenter but a middle class guy or gal who makes a decent living but works probably 60-80 hours/week and could not afford to pay those rates.
Final point and I'll /rant. It took me until I was 30 before I made over $15/hour. Granted, I was in the military and then went back to school late in life, but I worked my tail off doing dangerous and complex work for a lot less than the "living wages" being demanded in these cases. My wife is an editor and experienced pretty much the same thing - her early career was really low paying yet she was doing hard work that required a lot more skills than flipping burgers or folding clothes.