Monday with Ms. Marvel: morals of minimum wage


Morgan Kong

In her weekly column, Monday with Ms. Marvel, Wingspan’s Trisha Dasgupta reviews different political issues and relatable topics in everyday life.

Trisha Dasgupta, Staff Reporter

When the topic of minimum wage is brought up, often times the conversation will be disrupted by a sudden pivot to the impossible economics of instituting a livable wage. Obviously, the economic consequences of raising or lowering the current pay floor is a very significant matter, but aren’t the ethics of it an important one too? The morals and ethics behind how our culture values minimum wage workers plays just as important of a role as the economy.

Whether we want to admit it or not, a large part of American culture associates a person’s income with how much respect they deserve. Restaurant workers, janitors, custodians, cashiers and dozens of other holders of low-paying jobs are sometimes treated terribly due to the stigma behind their positions.

There are many stereotypes for people who work minimum wage jobs; it is oftentimes believed that minimum wage workers are just teenagers or lazy or basically anything other than respectable. The fact of the matter is that workers of minimum wage jobs can be in any one of many situations. They could be teenagers trying to pay for college or trying to help their parents pay the bills. They could be teachers needing extra money to help make ends meet. They could also be working two or three other minimum jobs as well.

And even if they’re not in a situation like that, and even if it is just some kid whose parents are forcing them to get a job for the summer, you shouldn’t demean a person whose service you are demanding, because they deserve your basic respect and more importantly, a livable wage.

Now, they can’t get one of those things without the other, because not only are these stereotypes blatantly ignorant, they show how much we, as a culture, value these workers and their service, which is intrinsically connected to public opinion of how high or low the pay floor for these workers should be.

If we keep upholding these classist beliefs about the work ethic of minimum wage workers, then we will keep upholding the belief that these workers shouldn’t be paid a fair and livable wage. And if the public believes that, then there’s no way that we’ll even begin to start looking for an economically feasible way to raise the federal pay floor for minimum wage workers.