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Milgrim’s Prison And Minimum Wage

November 14th 2016

How would you feel... if you worked at a fast food restaurant and earned $10.10 an hour?

Because today in America... an every-day minimum wage employee currently earns the sum of approximately $400 dollars / per week and furthermore, that same weekly wage then ends up closer to $325-350 dollars / per week, after taxation, rounding out to about 1300$ or 1400$ dollars / per month, if given a full working schedule.

However, that level of income does not afford an automobile, often forcing this employee to walk to work. And to further elaborate on this economic burden, a minimum wage employee is then forced to choose between; paying their rent, paying for a car, or saving very little.

(*And I’ve written about my experiences with minimum wage before… in previous articles, here…

But, with that being said, I oppose increasing the minimum wage and here’s why.

And yet, I’ve personally disagreed with raising the minimum wage several times, for a variety of reasons, which might seem counter intuitive to this predicament. Nevertheless, I believe that bolstering the economy through increasing the minimum wage… is like using a band aid… to clean a gun shot wound. Whereby, to be clear this type of legislation is demeaning to currency and I believe that this type of solution often fertilize’s future wealth gaps… that then grow even greater and then tend to exceed even the current income disparities, over time. (*Minimum wage goes up… but then so does; rent, food, gas and everything else and then there’s the backlash of the aforementioned aid.)

But with that being said… I would also ask that conservatives in office try to view minimum wage in terms of, “systems of thought.” Where to be specific, I view the minimum wage in accordance with, “Stanley Milgrim’s: Stanford Prison Guards Experiment.”

Which is to say, that in my experiences (as a minimum wage employee) often times managers don’t want to promote minimum wage employees. And that’s often times how the lower class functions. And most of us have experienced it, particularly in lower class work environments where employee’s feel insecure about their own value and then sub-managers don’t want to hire new sub-managers, they want a revolving door of employees underneath them. But worse yet, this style of business is incredibly common within the United States, today.

And in my opinion this situation leaves employees and employers… trapped in a system, nearly congruent with Milgrim’s classic experimentation on prisoners and prison guards. Whereby, in Milgrim’s notorious social experiment, carried out by Stanford University, subjects were asked to carry out inhumane orders, on other civilians who were deemed as, “prisoners,” although the prisoners, nor the prison guards, actually had any history of crime. Where to be clear, in this infamous experiment, for those who don’t know… the guards, did not know the prisoner’s were essentially NOT guilty of crimes and were still asked to torture them, making the variable in this experiment simply the concept of, “power.”

And this experiment was done to essentially determine the liability of subordinates, who committed crimes under orders. But furthermore, this experiment was run several times, by various different 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 guilty of crimes and this result was discovered on multiple occasions. But what’s almost most striking about this finding is that subordinates were almost always willing to inflict serious levels of pain, on people under their control, “when ordered to do so.” Whereby, to be clear, “guards in this experiment,” often hurt people, simply because they were told to do so by a superior or boss. So, with that being said, in many ways I also find that these results are nearly congruent to minimum wage employment within America today.

And 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 also see this experiment as nearly congruent to some of the circumstances, that I’ve encountered… in terms of lower class power structures, in America today.

Potential Solutions

And the foremost solution to this dilemma, I think is rewarding employee’s regardless of their career occupation. Whereby, often times workers in areas such as fast food, are looked at as inferior to their superiors regardless of what they do! So, what I seek to reform is attention to detail… and pay grades that take into account, exemplary employees, even if that said employee specializes at the cash register or drive through window.

And in many instances… this could be remedied simply by paying more attention to said employee’s at the corporate level and rewarding excellence regardless of what field an employee works. And 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. So, in conclusion and in particular, I would like to see management that does not hesitate to promote lower class employees, regardless of whether or not those employees work at an unenviable position.

-William Larsen, Civilians News Founder