No one hates the idea of a $15 an hour minimum wage more than the person making $15 an hour now.
You don't like to think of yourself as being on the bottom, and the only way to be sure you're not is if you can see other people doing worse than you are. If you make $15 an hour, nothing makes you feel better than the $10-an-hour janitor who vacuums the hallway outside your office. I know, I used to be the guy with the vacuum, and a lot of the people who worked in the offices I cleaned looked at me like I was a tree stump.
Still, they needed me. They made $5.50 an hour, and I made $3.35 an hour, and having me around proved to them that they were better than somebody.
As a former newspaper reporter, I can tell you that your local chamber of commerce sleeps soundly until some legislator suggests increasing the minimum wage. At this point, the chamber wakes up and begins crying about how an increase in the minimum wage will "eliminate a huge number of jobs." Then, they go back to throwing "Business After Hours" cocktail parties for the membership.
If you make minimum wage, and you want more, you get told these three things:
1. You don't have any skills, so you deserve to be poor.
2. Your job is not meant for an adult. It's meant for a teenager.
3. Get a better job.
These objections to you making a living wage are presented to you by people who already make $15 an hour, and rich people you will never see.
During my employment in corporate America, I worked for and alongside people who were only slightly skilled. They were, however, people who had a college degree, and owned at least three "good" outfits. The only skill a lot of them had was the ability to replace their soul with a copy of the employee handbook, and an ability to tell a boss he/she was right five times a day.
That "job for a teenager" stuff probably wasn't crap 60 years ago, when everybody had two parents in the house and unionized factory work was plentiful, but it's crap now. People tell me all the time that they would "take any job they had to" to support their families, which is precisely what the minimum wage worker is doing. If you imagine yourself doing it, it's heroic. When you see someone else, doing it, it's because they're stupid or lazy. Everybody wants to go to Heaven, but nobody wants to die.
Lastly, if it's so easy to get a better-paying job, then why don't YOU do it? I've heard dozens of people say, "If they want more money, they should get a better job." Many of those people made $40,000 a year. Forty thousand a year doesn't make you poor in most states, but surely you'd like to make $75,000 a year. If that's what you want, all you have to do is get a better job. What are you, stupid?
Give them a raise. It's been a damn long time. And if that makes the price of a fast-food cheeseburger goes up a quarter, I can afford to pay. You know why? Because I make more than the minimum wage.
To find more about Marc Munroe Dion and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com. Dion's latest book, "Devil's Elbow: Dancing in the Ashes of America," is a happy prance through politics and economics. It is available in paperback from Amazon.com and for Nook, Kindle and iBooks.