Milgrim’s Prison And Minimum Wage

November 14th 2016 – By: William Larsen – Civilians News – “News For All Views– “Milgrim And The Minimum Wage” –


What if YOU… worked at a fast food restaurant, earning $10.10 an hour?

An average 9 to 5, minimum wage employee, currently earns around $400 dollars / per week. Furthermore, after taxation, that same employee earns closer to $350 dollars / per week, rounding out to 1300$, or 1400$, dollars / per month.

This level of income, does not afford an automobile, often forcing this type of employee, to walk to work. To be more precise, this financial situation forces the employee to choose between; paying rent for an apartment, paying for a car, or saving very little…..

This is an incredibly difficult set of circumstances….

I’ve personally written several editorials on this topic, both from my own perspective and the experiences of those around me. See my prior article on minimum wage increases here;

With that being said:

I oppose increasing the minimum wage and here’s why.

I’ve personally disagreed with raising the minimum wage several times, for a variety of reasons. To be clear, I believe that bolstering the economy through minimum wage, is like a band aid, for a gun shot wound. This type of legislation is demeaning to currency and can often fertilize future wealth gaps, that then grow to exceed current disparities, over time. (Minimum wage goes up…. but then so does; rent, food, gas and everything else.)

With that being said, I would ask that conservatives in office view minimum wage in terms of, “systems of thought.” To be specific, I view minimum wage in accordance with, “Stanley Milgrim’s: Stanford Prison Guard Experiments.”

In my experiences, as a minimum wage employee, often times managers do not wish to promote minimum wage employees. This is how the lower class most often functions. Most of us have experienced it, sub managers don’t want new managers, they want a revolving door of minimum wage employees. Worse yet, this style of business is incredibly common in the United States today.

In my opinion, this situation leaves employees and employers, trapped in a system, nearly congruent with Milgrim’s classic experimentation, with prisoners and prison guards. In that social experiment, notably carried out by Stanford University, people were asked to carry out inhumane orders, on other civilians, deemed as, “prisoners.” Often times neither the prisoners nor prison guards, were actually guilty of any crimes, or even worked at the prison, making the variable in the experiment, simply the concept of, “power.”

This experiment was done to essentially determine the liability of subordinates, who committed crimes under orders. This experiment was run several times, by various groups, in order to properly assess blame for acts committed under orders.  Nevertheless, in each trial, people were most often proven to be willing to torture, “their prisoners,” regardless of whether they were even truly criminals. These results were discovered on multiple occasions. This occurred, whereby subordinates were almost always willing to inflict serious levels of pain, on people under their control, “when ordered to do so.” To be clear, “the guards in the experiment,” often hurt people, simply because they were told to do so, by a superior, or boss. Now, with that being said, in many ways, I find these results nearly congruent to minimum wage employment today.

It’s the classic situation where people are willing to carry out orders, even when the orders are cruel, or inhumane (like cutting someone’s hours). In this case, I see this occurring, in terms of lower class power structures.

So this begs the question; When are we as a nation, as a planet, as a global economy, going to look at this issue and say, “well the jobs issue is fixed, we’re no longer going to have a problem with un-employment, or employment itself, anymore?”

Never? Will we ever change that conversation to something more advanced? Or is this, “political rhetoric,” never ending….. in terms of jobs and job creation?

I don’t believe raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, is the worst idea…. but this must be considered normalcy with caution, because it can trigger inflation, in turn raising the cost of living and making income disparity even worse.

I often hear, “sometimes that’s life,” but according to who?

The fact of the matter is that minimum wage employment can be improved, without raising the minimum wage….. and should be improved.

For example, I beg the question; “what should the best fast food cashier in the country earn per hour?” What about the world?

How would you even know, if you were the best pizza delivery man on Earth? Or the best hair cutter in America? How would you even know?

In turn, I find that in lower class employment, many companies take advantage of employees, in this way. For this reason, often times highly skilled employees, don’t even know how good they truly are. In many ways, this fallacy of modern day lower class employment, is largely due to society’s interpretation of employee’s fields and not the employees themselves.

Burn Out

“Burn out,” is a major problem today, in the US economy and abroad. Furthermore, often times I see people who are skilled employees, run into the ground by corporate America, simply for working what older American’s consider, “less enviable positions.” It’s almost as though you can’t be successful at all anymore, in lower class jobs. I believe this is because of society’s predisposition towards some, “types of employment,” and work settings.

To shed some light from my personal experiences; I’ve worked at 5 pizza places, since I was in high school. Recently, I was fired from one pizza place, despite having 3-4 years of experience and a college degree….. Most ironically, I was fired after not saying anything at all, for the entire first month I worked there.

Potential Solutions

So what I seek to reform is attention to detail….. and pay grades that take into account, exemplary employees, even if said employee, specializes at the register, or drive through window.

In many instances, this could be as simple as asking management to pay more attention to detail. This could be done through new corporate policies, which underline the issues themselves and set forth increased awareness, particularly in terms of Milgrim’s psychological case study. In particular, I’d like to see management that does not hesitate to promote lower class workers, regardless of whether those employees work at an unenviable position.

Maybe this type of thinking…. sounds excessively ideal? Maybe it doesn’t? Regardless, I simply desire that the best employees in the world, are paid accordingly. Furthermore, I desire objectivity towards these types of workers, to occur at every level of the corporate chain. This is occurring, due to what I regard as a human tendency, to biasedly look down upon lower class employees, in accordance with Milgrim’s psychological case studies. Worse yet, I find these types of attitudes, most often occur in lower class employment and most often because of the work an employee does, and not the skill of that labor, and it’s time for people to begin changing that line of thinking.

-William Larsen, Civilians News Founder