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  • Debunking the Living Wagers

    5/29/2013 3:54:31 PM Posted by Adam Tragone

    living wage by Anthony Hadford

    On a sunny spring afternoon this past semester, I noticed a crowd gathering outside Thomas Jefferson's famous Rotunda. Curious, I approached the group and saw "Living Wage" signs and t-shirts, calling for an increase in the salaries of University of Virginia employees. While I had heard about this movement I did not fully understand their demands so I asked a bystander wearing the "living wage" t-shirt if he could tell me more about why they are protesting.

    "We want to raise the wage of workers" he replied. This seemed to be a good cause, why not pay all employees at least $13 an hour for their work? So I further questioned the young man, "Where would the University get the funds to increase wages? Do all of the employees earn $13 for the work the engage in? Is it possible that the University would lay off workers in order to adjust for higher wages? " The student chuckled and replied, "I really don't know man, I am just here for the protest." This is a common occurrence for a movement that lacks substance: create a cause centered on a sensitive issue to appeal to the emotions of supporters, but do not fully educate the supporters about the issue.


    Another interesting, yet ironic view of movements such as the living wage is peacefulness. It is ironic that they claim to engage in "peaceful protests" and dialogues because they often display behavior that entirely contradicts this. After I spoke with the first protester, I wanted to learn more about the living wage movement so I asked another member of their group about the cause. He replied similarly as the other young man, so I asked the same questions. He thought for a moment and then asked me if I support capitalism. I replied that capitalism may have some flaws but it is currently the best mechanism for a free economy. He then swore at me. It is not uncommon for some of these protesters to become upset and hostile towards those who question their cause. The use of ad hominem attacks is commonly a symptom of the fear of not knowing how to respond to an argument of reason.

    I learned an important lesson while observing the living wage movement that day. While many of the groups associated with the liberal agenda claim to be tolerant and peaceful, they are anything but peaceful. Where does their anger come from? It stems from the fear they experience when individuals, such as me, seek to better understand their view and question if such a stance is beneficial for society. For movements such as the living wage, discussion is lethal because it threatens to reveal the weaknesses of their demands and ultimately lead to the demise of their cause.

    Anthony Hadford is a Sarah T. Hermann Intern Scholar at Young America's Foundation and is a second year at the University of Virginia.



    • Readers' Comments

    • To understand the destructive, unintended consequences of a "Living wage" or minnimum wage laws look at one segment of our society- young, black men. They have suffered greatly as a result of this misguided movement since the 1960s. before the minnimum wage was legislated r America had a wage environment naturally established in a free market between a willing worker and a willing employer who came to an agreement via "freedom of contract". If the employee was feckless and not worth the wage, the employer fired them, if the work was undersold in complexity or difficulty the employee could ask for a higher wage or vote with their feet and quit, taking their labor elswhere. But then the ignorant do-gooders stuck their nose and ultimately their laws in the middle of the process and hurt many, many Americans. you see, there used to be so many entry level jobs for poorly educated, un-skilled youngster that all those who wished to work could work: as grocery baggers, stocking boys, unloaders at lumber yards, grounds maintenance and landscapers, ditch diggers, newspaper deliverers, bus boys, dish washers, waiters, construction site workers, gas station attendants and on it goes. That was a time when an employer, seeing a kid with the gumption ( and that was all they had) to come ask for a job deserved an opportuniy to get a foot in the door at a very low wage that was comminserate with their skills. Once the kid started work, REGARDLESS OF THE WAGE, they learned invaluable life skills - how to show up on time, accountability to co-workers and customers and bosses, gratitude, a work ethic, self-esteem on pay day, how to dress appropriately for the task at hand, how those who worked hardest were often rewarded and those who didn't were let go. Well now days, thanks to minnimum wage and living wage idiots, our youth no longer have that all important beginning because an employer cannot justify the expense of anywhere from $7.15 - $16.00 /hour wage mandates , depending upon the location ,for a complete neophyte ,so instead they hire somebody with experience and the kids no longer find entry level work. now , perhaps you understand why so many more poor, black youths turn to drug dealing and crime as their alternative for pure survival since liberal, uninformed do-gooders have made it impossible for them to get their first legitimate job.
      Posted by oneamongmanypatriot on 05/31/2013
    • Good work. These 'living wage' folks don't understand that if one is able to artificially inflate one groups wages e.g. university employees, that this is actually harmful to other groups that do not get the their wages inflated. Bottom line, if you do like your job, or your pay, you should be looking for something better, not protesting. There are lots of people that would love to have your job.
      Posted by DilloTank on 05/31/2013
    • Good job Anthony.Somebody has to pay for the artificially higher wage and that is nyou the taxpayer.
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