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?

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

This level of income doesn’t afford an automobile, often forcing said employee to walk to work. To be more precise, this level of income forces employees into very difficult choices. This situation often results in employees having to choose between; paying rent for an apartment, paying for a car payment, or saving very little…..

This is a difficult set of circumstances….

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

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

With that being said, I’ve personally disagreed with raising the minimum wage several times. This is for a variety of reasons. I personally believe that bolstering the economy by increasing the minimum wage, is like using a band aid for a gun shot wound. I believe this is only a way of demeaning currency, in order to create future wealth gaps that exceed even today’s measurements. In many ways, I believe this solution often times makes income disparity WORSE.

With that being said, I would ask that conservatives in office view minimum wage in terms of “systems of thought.” To take that a step further, I view minimum wage in accordance with Milgrim’s classic, “Stanford Prison Guard experiment.”

In my experiences as a minimum wage employee, often times managers do not wish for these types of employees to reach their level of employment. This is how the lower class most often functions. Most of us have experienced it. Sub managers do not want new sub managers. Instead this creates a system, where most companies prefer a revolving door of employment beneath them. This most often occurs despite the inhumane or sometimes cruel effects of this style of business, which commonly takes place all over America today.

In my opinion, this situation leaves employees and employers, with a “system of thought” nearly congruent with Milgrim’s classic experimentation on prisoners and prison guards. In these experiments, by 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 and prison guards, were actually guilty of any crimes, or even worked at the prison.

This experiment was done in essence to determine the liability of subordinates, who committed crimes under orders. This experiment was run several times by various groups, for a variety of different reasons, including deciding how much blame should be placed on soldiers of war. Nevertheless, in each trial people were proven as 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 pain upon people under their control, simply because they were told to do so by a superior or boss, in the experiment. In many ways, I find these results similar 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. In this case, this is occurring in terms of lower class employment.

History has proven it to be true, repeatedly, century after century.

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 problems with employment and un-employment anymore?”

Never? Will we ever change the 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. However 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.

Sometimes that’s life, according to?

However, there are a number of things people could do to make the problem better. Specifically, I’d like to call on “corporate America,” to pay more attention to detail, while also acknowledging the similarities between Milgrim’s work and lower class employment.

For example; 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 what if you were the best hair cutter in America? How would you even know?

I find that in lower class employment, many companies take advantage of their employees in this way. For this reason, often times highly skilled employees don’t 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 said employees field.

Burn Out

This 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. This is because of society’s predisposition for 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 to 4 years of experience and a college degree….. Most ironically, I was fired after literally not saying anything at all, for the first month that 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 that’s too ideal, maybe it’s not, but I simply desire the best employees are paid accordingly. I also desire this to occur at every level of the corporate chain and not just the top. Yet, today I often see quite the opposite situation. This is due to what I regard as a human tendency to look down upon lower class employees, in accordance with Milgrim’s work. Worse yet, I find this occurrence is often due to predispositions and not employees actual work. I believe this occurs most often in lower class employment because of generalizations that come along with lower class employment altogether.

-William Larsen, Civilians News Founder