Businesses are struggling. This has become common knowledge over the last few months. Restaurants and businesses can’t find workers, they’re being forced to shorten their hours, and some are even permanently closing their doors due to their inability to find reliable staff. The question I’m wondering is…who is to blame for this? And how do we fix it?
Let’s throw out some well known information: Right now, a person making $15/hour, working 40 hours a week would bring home less than somebody currently receiving unemployment due to the extra $300/week being sent out due to Covid-19. This is…ridiculous to me, as someone who only makes $15.25/hour and works more than 40 hours a week. Thus, people making the choice to stay on unemployment, rather than going out and actively finding work makes sense to me. Hell, I was tempted to quit my part-time job so I could receive unemployment while searching for a new full-time job during the height of the shut-downs, seeing as I was laid off right before the pandemic started. But I didn’t. I found a job making $14/hour and made it work for us. Luckily for me, it was only a temporary switch as I was recalled back to the job I was laid off from 5 months later, and ended up quitting both former jobs and just sticking with this one. A hit to my wallet, losing the part-time income too, but well worth it in regard to lowering my stress-level and overall happiness. But, I digress. I’m saying I get it. I might not agree with it completely, but I understand it.
Back to the lack of workers issue. People are sick of working for horrible companies, making little pay, while being morally degraded and pushed around by both their bosses and the general public. I get that. Honestly, I don’t blame them in the least, and I’m silently cheering them on as they virtually flip the bird to a lot of these companies. My conundrum is that I am also a very firm believer in the idea that one should absolutely work for what they have, and especially for what they WANT but do not necessarily NEED. Now, the new mindset of this “woke” society is that people are ENTITLED to certain things. Sanitary housing, food, clothing, etc. And, honestly? I can get behind that. I can get behind the idea that every human being is entitled to the necessary things to ensure a healthy life. A roof, clothing, food, and a bathroom. That’s it. And yes, that’s what shelters are for. Unfortunately, shelters across the country are overrun, and we still have millions of homeless sleeping on the streets. So, how do we fix this? How do we get those able to work, back out in the workforce, but change the workforce so that people are no longer working for pennies that can’t even afford the basic necessities.
There are two main propositions to fix the problem. One is from the very loud right, and the other is from the very loud left. Let’s explore the right’s ideas, first.
Their general consensus is that minimum wage jobs were not meant to be sustainable family incomes. And, okay. I can agree with that. A 17-year-old working at McDonald’s, who consistently messes up my order doesn’t deserve $15/hour. They just don’t. Neither does the 35-year-old drive-thru worker with a bad attitude who, again, consistently messes up at their job. I’ve personally always seen these types of jobs as steppingstones to more gainful employment. They are where you SHOULD be learning work ethic, and the joy that is taking pride in doing a job well. That’s what I used these jobs for. However, how does one with no schooling, training, or other work history find something better? The right’s usual answer to this is “go to school”, “learn a trade”, “work a second job”, etc. None of these solutions are guaranteed to work for every situation. School is EXPENSIVE and just incurs more debt. Not to mention, you’re not always guaranteed to find a job within the field you choose to study in… but that’s a separate issue. Trade school, also, is not cheap. Yes, there are grants and scholarships, but speaking as a full-time student, most of those are EXTREMELY hard to find, and even if found, even harder to win when there are hundreds and even thousands of other applicants. Many people have time constraints, children, or family to care for, etc. Not to mention, in many areas, just a simple studio apartment is upwards of $1000/month. So, now what?
The far left says, “raise the minimum wage to a livable wage”. But that’s a blanket statement that not all companies could do and still survive. McDonald’s, yea. They could easily raise their pay and be okay. They have been over the last few years. However, do you think a higher pay will suddenly make more people take pride in their work? I don’t. Even making $12/hour now compared to the $7.25 they were making just a few years ago, they still just do not care. There’s still no pride in their work. Yes, there are of course exceptions, and those exceptions should be promoted and rewarded. But that’s an internal company matter, not the government’s business. In an ideal economy, good workers would make enough to live from and bad workers would be stuck at minimum wage no matter what their job is until they learn to be a good worker. But this isn’t an ideal economy. Far from it. But I don’t believe refusing to work and living off of government subsidies is the answer. The problem is, I’m not sure what the right answer is, and neither is anyone else. But, I have some ideas that some may just call outlandish, but hear me out before you call the psyche ward.
So, how do we get people back out in the workforce without completely overhauling the current economy? Or… should we be trying to overhaul the economy? Is anarchy the answer? Do these unemployment mooches have the right idea? I can’t believe that, because again, I believe in working for what you have. I believe earning something is the only real way one will appreciate the things that they have. However, I also don’t believe in excess. I don’t believe multi-millionaires should be able to charge outrageous prices for basic rental properties. But at the same time, that’s the American way. The capitalist way. This is the world we built for ourselves. Where a select few in the world possess the majority of the world’s wealth. And, honestly, it sucks. Because in a truly compassionate world, those few would have no qualms about helping the less fortunate get a leg up in life. But, this isn’t a compassionate world. And I personally don’t believe that the government has a right to take from the rich to give to the poor. The rich CHOOSING to give to the poor is a different story, however. I also don’t believe in doing for others. I believe in helping others do for themselves. But the question I’m left contemplating is how do we do this? How do we get people to work for what they want, but enable them to have what they need to survive? Or are we forever stuck in the age of survival of the fittest, or in many cases, the luckiest.
My simple yet complex answer is that of many others. A base, minimal income to cover the very basic necessities as mentioned above. Get rid of homeless SHELTERS and build small apartments. Every person is entitled to an apartment and a food and clothing stipend. If you want more, if you want luxuries, if you want to move to a location and a home of your choosing…you work for it. And when you move, you still get that same amount to cover the very basics. You use your income to cover your luxuries. Makes sense to me, and in a perfect world, would be possible. But many people will undoubtedly call me crazy or naïve for thinking this is a viable solution. But honestly, I don’t understand why it couldn’t be. The amount in grants and donations many supposed non-profits and charitable organizations receive is squandered away by the CEOs and corporate suits. So, get rid of them. Give everyone the same leg to stand on when they start out. No child should go hungry because of their parents’ inability to be anything other than useless. Let everyone work for where they want to be in life. If you want high speed internet and expensive technology, you work for it. If you want the freedom to live wherever you want to or to own pets…you work for it. If you want a nice car and fancy clothes…again, you work for it. If you want to stay in a low-paying job where you only make enough to occasionally eat out and pay your phone bill…that’s your decision. If you want to stay in that tiny apartment and work an easy job to pay for your drugs, that’s still your decision. But, nobody needs to be homeless or hungry in this day and age. Everyone should be able to build the life that they want, if they’re willing to put the work in for it. And if they’re not, that shouldn’t be a death sentence. Sentenced to a miserable, boring existence with limited to no luxuries…yea. But if you want to actually live your best life, and make the most of your freedoms and the opportunities you have…then you should not be denied that freedom, if you’re willing to do your part to earn it.