I want to first preface this article with the fact that I am not taking any political side on this issue. My opinion about raising or not raising the minimum wage is based on observations I have made over the past 40 years, my personal experiences, and what I believe to be common sense. If you agree or disagree, I would love to hear what you have to say about the issue.
In 1970 I started my first job with a finance company. Granted, they are not the best payers, but at that time a base salary (before taxes) of $325 a month, plus benefits, was a good deal for an 19-year-old living at home. It was not enough to live on if I had to take care of myself, but sufficient for my circumstances at the time.
Later, after I had my first child, there was no way I could take care of us both on that amount of money. I spoke to my boss and he gave me a raise of over $200 a month, which was enough for us to get an apartment.
Over the next few years I continued to take lower end of the scale jobs (because I had not completed my college education), but always worked hard to get promoted quickly to earn more money. It was a matter of pride, and necessity. There were even times when I held down more than one job at a time. In most cases I was ambitious, and got promoted quickly, often faster than anyone else had ever done in that company. I never stayed on the lower rung of the ladder for long. When you are motivated, you do what it takes.
When they instituted the minimum wage it was a good thing for those who were on the bottom, but those who had worked to get ahead and make more were forgotten. They ended up either getting a raise just to bring their salary up to minimum wage, or ended up making just a few cents more than those on the bottom. They didn’t get a raise if they were making more than minimum wage.
What did working harder get them?
Although I, personally, never wanted to remain on the bottom - often many people became discouraged and stop trying. The minimum wage continued to go up, but those who put in the time and effort still remained at the lower rungs of the economic scale. This still holds true today.
In addition, when minimum wage goes up, SO DOES EVERYTHING ELSE. Grocers have to pay their stockers and baggers more; growers have to pay their workers more; fast food place has to pay higher wages, etc. This increase is passed on to the consumer in the form of higher prices, so even though wages for the working poor are higher, so is their grocery bill and the cost of living. The poor remain poor - and nothing changes. What positive in there is that?
I am all for making sure people make a living wage, but as I see it - the best way to get more money is to work harder. Sometimes that may mean taking on more than one job, or having another person in the family working. I know there are some who can not legitimately work - for whatever reason, and they DO deserve assistance. As a matter of fact, there was a time that, although I wanted to work, the cost of child care would only make us break even. The majority of people making minimum wage, however, don’t have to be there. They can move from up with more effort. The rest of the country should not have to pay for unmotivated people who are content on the bottom.
My solution, those who deserve help due to incapacity or special circumstances should be able to get it, but those who do not should have to find a way to make their living by motivating themselves.
In my opinion, raising the minimum wage is not the
alternative for the working poor. There should be more job training programs; more affordable or creative day care (like day care co-ops) so people would be able to have money
left over after paying child care; flexible work days; etc. would be some solutions.
The United States is one of the few developed nations that does not offer public education over and above secondary school. A better educated population better positions us in the world economy.
Am I far off the mark? I really would like to know.
Eighteen years ago I lost my husband in a hunting accident. I had four children, three of whom were under 14, and I had just started working for a local weekly newspaper the week before his death - doing cut and paste ads and layout.
Although I had college credits, I did not have a degree, nor any education in design, or experience in advertising or with newspapers. To make a long story short, I took a small portion of the insurance money and purchased a computer, teaching myself graphic design and layout. It came in handy when two employees sabotaged the newspaper's new computers when they were fired, and the paper was due to go to print that day. They underestimated my ability to get it out - but I did!
After a couple years of learning behind-the-scenes of newspaper publishing, and because I saw people were influencing the owner's editorial and paper content toward their personal agendas, I decided to go out on my own and start my own weekly newspaper - one that was meant to inform and help the community, and not influence policy. I informed my employer of my intentions, and assured him I would not take his advertisers. I wanted to be above board with him (and because I kept my word we remain friends today).
With the help of a couple friends, I ran the paper out of my home for the first year, and it was successful, and popular. I then moved to a small office. Unfortunately, even though I did the majority of the work myself print newspapers were becoming dinosaurs and financially it became too much, so I changed gears.
I never thought of the closing of the paper as a failure. It was a free paper, and most people at the beginning didn't give me a month before I would fold. I never let someone tell me I couldn’t do something, it just spurred me on to prove them wrong.
I had to earn my acceptance into the Michigan Press Association, and I was able to make some significant changes in the community, expose graft and corruption in the local landfill, and save some jobs by getting people together to mediate instead of argue.
My tenure as a newspaper publisher may have only been four years, but it was the most gratifying time in my life. I learned I could succeed at anything if I wanted it badly enough. I set a goal, and attained it. It brought me the confidence I needed to become an entrepreneur in other ventures, and gave me the confidence to strike out and pursue one of my life’s passions, to become a writer.Life is comprised of challenges, and I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. If my husband hadn’t died I may never have had the confidence, or the funding, to strike out on my own. It may be a cliché, but for every door that closes another one opens. You just have to be ready to walk through that door.
I am of the opinion that there is nothing wrong with recreational use of marijuana. I think is is much like the use of alcohol, in moderation occasional use of cannabis is fine. As with any "soft" drug, which includes alcohol, the key is not carrying it to excess or dependency.
There is, however, the issue of usage by minors that should be brought out and examined. Educating your children on the evils or benefits of marijuana use is not limited to adult experiences, but should be done from the vantage point of real, solid evidence. Not only is it damaging to the lungs, it is damaging to the brain.
An interesting study was reported in the British Journal of Psychiatry indicating convincing evidence has been found to indicate adolescents’ chronic use of marijuana can damage brain cells and slow down their mental and memorization capabilities. Chronic marijuana use before a youth’s 15th birthday can contribute to a long list of chronic health problems and an elevated risk of neuro-psychological problems.
Marijuana is the most common non-prescription drug used by adolescents, and it blocks the brain’s activity level, putting it into a lower state of consciousness. Each year, 100,000 teens are treated for marijuana dependence, and the number is rising while the age they start to smoke it is decreasing. Teens who smoke marijuana heavily experience much the same symptoms of withdrawal as users of nicotine.
Those who regularly use marijuana often develop breathing problems much like a regular smoker does – chronic cough and wheeze. The same chemicals that are harmful in tobacco (THC or tetrahydrocannabinal) are present in marijuana, and the carbon monoxide levels absorbed by marijuana users is three to five times greater than that among tobacco smokers. In addition, behavior exhibited by introducing THC to the brain are similar to those demonstrated by alcohol consumption and abuse.
Because the brains of youth under 20 are still developing and immature, researchers have found that early use of marijuana causes lasting delays in cognitive function - especially in those chronic users under 15. Youths are especially fragile to the neurotoxin effects of cannabis, which leads to lessened mental flexibility and poor memory function.
The study was conducted using 104 chronic marijuana users, and the goal was to determine whether early exposure to marijuana could cause damage to a teen’s developing brain. Among the subjects, 49 started smoking marijuana before they were 15 (early-onset users who averaged 10.9 years of use), and 55 didn’t start until after they were 15 (late-onset users who averaged 8.7 years of use). A control group of 44 teens that did not use marijuana was also studied.
Each subject was asked to participate in brain exercises designed to gauge the neurological impact of early cannabis use. There was no significant IQ level difference, but early marijuana users did poorly in areas that involved cognitive function, concentration, coordination and endurance. The early-onset group made more mistakes, and had trouble completing tasks in categories that related to card-sorting. The scorecard of non-users and late starter marijuana users did not show any significant difference.
The study concluded that exposure to regular use of marijuana while the brain is still forming, prior to age 15, is indeed damaging to the overall mental health, and the effects can have lasting effects throughout life.
It is still unclear if moderate marijuana use in adult life poses any long-term neurological harm, but the evidence is growing that chronic use before the age of 15 definitely poses a problem in memorizing and cognitive functions. This is what you need to tell your children.