Last Updated: February 1, 2021, 9:45 am

OPINION | $15 minimum wage won’t fix wealth inequality


The United States hasn’t raised the minimum hourly wage since 2009, and honestly, President Joe Biden’s $15 per hour proposal still isn’t high enough.

While the poverty rate has been gradually decreasing, as of 2019, the rate of Americans in poverty was at 10.5%. That’s 34 million people. 

Roughly one in 10 people can’t afford their most basic needs and necessities, and there are still lawmakers arguing that $7.25 per hour is fair, or that raising the minimum will take away the motivation for young workers to pursue higher education. 

Oh, please. 

The number one deterrent against going to college or university is and always will be the many thousands of dollars in debt that students are likely to accrue throughout their educational career. But that’s an article for another day.

The arguments against the minimum wage hike largely come from Republicans concerned about small business and the financial effect it will have on employers. And to be honest, I can’t dismiss that genuine issue. If small businesses have to close because they can’t afford to pay their employees the new legal minimum wage, that’s a definite problem.

In an effort to appeal to Republicans and ameliorate this concern, a tax cut for small businesses could be proposed and implemented; however, big companies like Walmart should not take part in any tax breaks. I have absolutely no sympathy for the corporations that make billions of dollars every year and pass none of it down to the workers.

Big companies who claim that they aren’t able to pay their workers a livable wage should be incredibly embarrassed. It takes so much audacity to horde wealth like Smaug and then whine about distributing it among your own workers that made you that money.

I’d argue that $15 per hour, after a decade of fighting for it, isn’t even a living wage for most of the United States population anymore. Inflation has reduced the purchasing power of a dollar by 17% since 2009, meaning even that measly $7.25 per hour isn’t worth what it was 10 years ago — it’s less.

For some perspective, the average cost of renting an apartment in St. George alone is $1,213, meaning that a minimum wage earner would have to work over 40 hours per week to cover rent alone. Would doubling the minimum wage reliably account for food costs, car insurance, gas, phone bills, utility bills or health care?

No, but it would be better. And since this country seems to like to do things in excruciatingly small baby steps, maybe we’ll get the $15 minimum wage passed this time.

As a possible backup plan, when the rich got too rich, the proletariat in France broke out the guillotine. Just a thought.