– “Milgrim’s Prison And Minimum Wage” –
What if YOU… worked at a fast food restaurant, earning $10.10 an hour?
The average 9 to 5, minimum wage employee, currently earns around $400 dollars / per week, gross. After taxation, that same employee then 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 often forces the employee to choose between either; 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; http://civiliansnews.com/civilians-news/why-increasing-the-minimum-wage-is-not-the-answer-to-inequality/.
Yet, 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,” when the prisoners, nor prison guards, actually were 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 heinous acts committed under orders (*like in WWII). Nevertheless, in each trial, people were most often seen as willing to torture, “their prisoners,” regardless of whether they were even truly criminals. This result was 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 a situation where people are willing to carry out orders, even when the orders are cruel, or inhumane, like cutting someone’s hours below the poverty line. Furthermore,I see this experiment as nearly congruent to some of the circumstances, that I’ve seen occurring, in terms of lower class power structures, in America today.
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 be having the problem of un-employment?”
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 that 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 know, if you were the best pizza delivery man on Earth? Or the best barber in America? How would you even know?
I find that many corporations take advantage of employees, in this way. Also, I find that highly skilled employees, often don’t know how good they truly are, in America today. Furthermore, I believe that this is a common fallacy, in America today, whereby people judge employees by their field, and not their work itself.
“Burn out,” is also a major problem, in America today.
To shed some light from my own personal experiences; I’ve worked at about 5 pizza places, since I was 17 years old. Most recently, I was fired from one pizza place, despite having 3-4 years of experience and a college degree….. Rather ironically, I was fired after not saying anything at all, for the entire first month that I worked there.
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 cash 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.
-William Larsen, Civilians News Founder