Minimum wage

Luis Gonzalez, Opinion Editor

Politicians all over the nation have been debating whether or not to increase individual states’ minimum wage. The first couple of states that raised their minimum wage higher than the federal mandate were California and Washington. These states were able to pass through legislature an increase of their own minimum wage by at least $3.25.

The minimum wage in Illinois is $8.25 an hour. Some people may think that amount is too high; some think it is not enough.

“I think it needs to be improved to help people who work and live under it. It will improve their lives,” Mary Pat Barney, substitute teacher, said.

Minimum wage has been increasing over the past couple of years. In 2008 it was $7.50 an hour. In the past six years it has gone up .75 cents. In 2008 it was still high compared to 2000. In 2000 minimum wage was $5.15 an hour. In eight years it went up $2.45.

“I hope it keeps rising. People who make their living under minimum wage are entitled for it to rise to live under it,” Barney said.

Many students have minimum wage jobs, even though most are not trying to support themselves on it.

“I believe that it should be higher, though not by much. I think depending on your occupation, you should be able to increase your minimum wage,” Kendall Rivecco, junior, said.

People in favor of raising the minimum wage feel that they are not really asking for an increase in salary. They feel they are asking for their pay to stay the same, considering inflation.

“Minimum wage should be tied to the consumer price index and inflation. Today the consumer index is gradually rising, but the national minimum wage isn’t,” John Smith, government teacher, said. “Why should product prices rise in a steeper rate than the minimum wage? Minimum wage should rise or fall coordinately to the product prices and inflation.”

Isabelle Czwodzinski, junior, agrees. “With prices rising to buy essential things, the minimum wage should too,” she said.

Some states already had raised the minimum wage above the federal mandate of $7.25 dollars an hour. Seattle, WA is being highly criticized for recently increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour on January 11, 2014 according to USA Today.

People who do not support increasing the minimum wage feel that it is not fair to small businesses that employ fewer than 300 staff members. Most businesses, if not all, would have a tiny profit from paying more for their employment. Many congressmen also oppose increasing the minimum wage.

“Bringing the minimum wage back up to the buying power it had in 1968 would more than quadruple the price of fast food,” Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) said in an article on ThinkProgress.

When a constituent asked Mullin for his take on the push to raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour at an Afton, OK town hall meeting, Mullin responded with a question of his own: “You guys wanna pay $20 for a hamburger at McDonald’s?”

“If you wanna increase it, that’s great, but what you’re gonna do is punish everybody along the way,” Mullin elaborated according to ThinkProgress.

Others do not think it would hurt the economy or raise prices if the minimum wage was raised.

“I think the economy makes prices higher. Gas is never stable and food prices are raised,” Barney said.

Whether people are for or against raising the minimum wage, both sides have valid arguments. All there is to do is to hope the representatives are representing the people’s voice.