Refocusing debate to most important issue; lack of fair ‘living wages’
Published: Monday, February 11, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 11, 2013 17:02
There’s been a lot of debate on a recent incident involving a viral tweet and an Applebee’s waitress.
For anyone who didn’t catch the news here is the short of it: An Applebee’s waitress from the St. Louis area posted a photograph of a receipt her co-worker received.
The receipt was for a large party and included an 18 percent service charge. The included tip amount was crossed out on the receipt, with the phrase “I give God 10%, why do you get 18%?”
The waitress was fired because the photograph showed the signature of the customer, and this is considered a violation of privacy.
A lot of controversy has surrounded this issue.
Many people, religious or not, are upset by the customer’s actions.
Others are arguing about whether or not the visible signature constitutes a violation of the customer’s privacy, and whether that warrants the waitress being fired.
There’s plenty of discussion to be had about these things, but I think they miss the bigger picture: fair wages.
The whole reason tipping is even a necessary thing in the United States, is because it supplements wages that are too low to live on alone.
Paying gratuity is only an issue when we don’t pay food servers the minimum necessary amount to survive on, especially if they have children to take care of.
It is important for us to realize that this problem isn’t just something that happens in the food service industry.
The issue of adequate wages is something that touches a great number of people.
While minimum wage laws have been in effect for quite some time, and do provide for some degree of worker protection, they quite often fail to do so adequately.
This is because as inflation and living costs go up, the laws establishing minimum wages stay the same. This causes the “real value” of wages to decrease over time.
The best way to solve for a problem like this is to base the minimum wage upon a carefully calculated “living wage”.
A living wage is the minimum wage necessary for a worker to provide themselves with basic needs with a 40-hour workweek.
In the United States, this is usually a difference of several dollars per hour.
It varies from region to region, but according to MIT’s Living Wage Calculator, the living wage for a family of four in Craighead County is $17.62/hr, while the poverty line is at $10.60/hr and minimum wage is $7.25/hr.
Supplying low-wage workers with the raise they need to meet the living wage will not only make wages fairer but also raise the standard of living for the working class.
This increase in take home pay will increase these workers spending ability. As a nation we can benefit from their higher dollar velocity.
The National Employment Law Project has shown through a study conducted in 2012 that slow wage growth hinders economic recovery.
At the end of the day, this is a simple issue.
Not only do workers deserve to make a wage that allows them to adequately provide for themselves and their families, instituting a living wage policy will also stimulate economic growth.
Clint Simpson is a senior political science major of Jonesboro.