The American dream is the ability to move up socially up the ladder of class systems through hard work, or at least that’s how it used to be. In the past, a person was able to work for a company coming straight out of high school, and especially college, people expected to make a basic living wage. Nowadays, it seems like this idea is all but gone, even with a college education, earning a basic living is questionable. All this has to do with the high cost of living in America. Our wages haven’t kept up with our expenses. Then there is a wage gap between the rich and poor that is evermore increasing. The damage from this inequality scenario is already showing through the national credit debt crisis, student loan debt debacle, and homelessness throughout most urban areas. Crash Course Economics produced by PBS, explains the inequality gap perfectly. If we were to distribute 100 dollars to each high, middle, and low-class groups based on income from richest to poorest. The wealthiest groups based on income from richest to poorest. The wealthiest would represent one percent receiving dollars 10 percent of the 100, the middle class gets four dollars even though they are a cross section of the entire population. The working class would receive two dollars, and the most impoverished group would receive one dollar. This example shows how the 1 percent take 83 percent of the American pie while millions of poor people in America get only 1 percent of the slice. It is not only unfair but the definition of exploitation. Millions without and a few having it all will lead to significant ramifications down the road. How do we bridge this gap? There are many solutions to decrease the ever-growing wage gap in America if big business, big labor, and big government would consider it a priority to fix. The first is to re-examine the federal minimum wage and the CEO to worker salary ratio to bring the margin closer.
The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25. Nationally it has not been raised since July of 2009, according to the U.S Department of Labor. Sunday, June 16th, 2019, will mark a decade in which the most extended period it has not been raised. This should alert people that it’s long overdue since we already have a significant inequality gap going on and it’s extending even further stretching over such a long time. Before a decade ago, the minimum wage was increased on the average every five years. To fix the wage gap inequality, the U.S government should increase or at least re-examine minimum wage standings every five years. This will help employees to be able to earn a salary that keeps up with the standards of living and inflation.
People often state that the minimum wage is not supposed to be a job to make an actual living month to month and year to year. It’s not a career, only a job. They say these minimum wage jobs are entry-level positions to employ high schoolers and young adults on their way to other compensating avenues, but certain circumstances leave vast numbers of people with no other option but to work years without end at minimum wage jobs. Large numbers are employed with fast food restaurants, in retail stores, and with assorted service jobs. ABC news documented a segment on a man named Terrence who worked two minimum wage jobs to piece together money to live on. The man would leave his house at 5:30 in the morning and return 16 hours later. His route took multiple buses to get to work. Even if he wanted to get higher education as the means to advance his job status, he is unable too because there are not enough hours in a day. If Terrence were to quit one of his jobs, he wouldn’t be able to support his family. Therefore, raising the minimum wage would help in this situation that is common for family breadwinners realizing a person can’t be in two places at one time or focusing on two things without prioritizing one. Because he wouldn’t have to work 2 jobs to support his family, he could invest his extra time to better himself by going to school. On a FED survey data that has been released that 40 percent of Americans couldn’t come up with 400 dollars for emergency funds. Since Americans don’t have the emergency funds, they would be forced to borrow it, using loans and credit cards as a means to pay off whatever emergency that comes up. Which, in turn, leads to more debt that the minimum wage workers budget can’t handle. The national credit card debt surpassed a trillion dollars in 2017, according to CNBC, and will continue if workers don’t receive a livable wage.
A chief executive officer (CEO) in 1950 made 20 times more than their average worker. This was the norm, and employees tended not to complain about the disparity. Nowadays, in 2019, CEO’s make on the average 361 times the average rank-and-file worker; equivalent to the payment of $13,940,000 a year, according to an AFL-CIO’s Executive Paywatch news release. How could this be fair? It could become a reason to unite workers, leading people to band together to receive better pay. Startup companies like Uber are already going on strike to secure better pay wages. Dara Khosrowshahi is a CEO who made $45 million last year, according to businessinsider.com. Compare that salary to the average commission an Uber driver makes at $ 9.17 in Oklahoma, according to ridester.com. These wages should be more evenly distributed instead of the CEO lopsidedly earning 45 million dollars. How about cutting the CEO wage in half to 22.5 million dollars. Use the other half to increase the salaries of the drivers or give them incentives for gas mileage. This would increase the workers living situations, which in turn increases worker morale and competition to work harder, knowing that they work for a company that cares about them.
There are problems associated with raising the minimum wage, the opposition will say, and that one act isn’t the only thing to solve inequality. Their money options and opinion counts. Issues such as how raising the minimum wage will increase the cost of goods and services, it could tighten the employment market by encouraging the process of automation. When it comes to the price of products due to inflation, the Chair of the Federal Reserve tries to keep inflation down to 2 percent every year because it is inevitable that it will rise. Inflation is what keeps the economy going while it increases demand in the short term. As a result of ebb and flow, stores sell more, and factories produce more when they do. They say these conditions tighten up the employment market and give everybody who’s looking for a job. For today, the unemployment rate is at a low of 3.6 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Companies such as Amazon and Walmart have recorded increasing their salaries to 15 dollars an hour and still report they don’t have enough workers. The problem of automation driving humans out is a real concern, but according to Vox.com, we are very far away from that future becoming a reality, and if machines replace humans, there will be other jobs, changes create new jobs for humans.
What I want people to ultimately take from this issue of raising the minimum wage and closing the extraordinary gap between CEOs and workers is that the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to reasons for raising the minimum wage and solving wage inequality. Raising salaries will not only keep up with inflation but helps society and individuals with the standards of living. By increasing the standard of living, this will aid low-income individuals to propel motion upward on the social ladder due to them being able to use the time they devote to earning less for more learning because they will see the necessity for going to school instead of working multiple jobs to make the same pay. It will help lower the debt ratio because Americans will have a nest egg put aside for emergency funds in case an accident were to occur. So I conclude by asking policymakers of our government to give the less fortunate a chance to catch up before it is too late, because they can’t see the obvious, it is evident that there will be even more conflict in haves’ and have-nots’ future.
Amadeo, Kimberly. “2 Surprising Ways Inflation Helps You.” The Balance, The Balance, 28 Sept. 2018
“Bureau of Labor Statistics Data.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,
Fong, Joss. “Why the Rise of the Robots Won’t Mean the End of Work.” Vox, Vox, 13 Nov. 2017,
Jdickler. “Credit Card Debt Hits a Record High. It’s Time to Make a Payoff Plan.” CNBC, CNBC, 23 Jan. 2018
News, ABC. “Americans Struggling to Make Ends Meet | A Hidden America with Diane Sawyer (Nightline).” YouTube, YouTube, 14 Jan. 2017,