The American Dream and $15 | Teen Ink

The American Dream and $15

May 5, 2021
By norascs BRONZE, Alameda, California
norascs BRONZE, Alameda, California
3 articles 0 photos 0 comments

 1.3 million people earned exactly the prevailing federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour and about 1.7 million had wages below the federal minimum. Now let’s let that sink in. Many of these people include hard-working families that are working countless hours to pay for their basic needs and possibly even their own family needs. However, it’s hard. Even if your state pays a higher minimum wage, let’s say California which pays $11 per hour, you’ll still be in the poverty line as housing prices have risen up by 9.8 percent within the last couple of years, but this isn’t just California. It’s every state! At this point in our times, living with a house and being financially stable on minimum wage is unrealistic. This is why I propose that every American should be provided with a living wage. A living wage is at the minimum, $15 an hour for every state. The reason why it’s $15 is that this is how much you have to make to stay above the federal poverty level. This is also the amount you need to make to have a majority of your basic necessities like housing, food, electricity and water bills, etc. People are working and need government assistance to help them pay for basic needs in life. Raising the minimum wage in the United States is a small step towards making the world a better place. 

People are working and living paycheck to paycheck. Some politicians such as Bernie Sanders has strongly spoken out in changing the national minimum wage to fifteen dollars an hour. Sanders advocates that the minimum wage should be raised to “a living wage”, or at least fifteen dollars an hour "We are living in the richest country in the history of the world, yet we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major country and millions of people are struggling to put food on the table. It is my absolute conviction that everyone in this country deserves a minimum standard of living and we've got to go forward in the fight to make that happen." ~ Sen. Bernie Sanders Here he talks about how even today in the U.S, we have such a strong economy that makes 4.4 trillion dollars a year, yet we still manage to have kids living in poverty due to their parents making minimum wage or below minimum wage. Every American deserves a living wage where it’ll cover as he said, the minimum standard of living.  Some argue that if an increase in the minimum wage is passed businesses will raise the prices of goods and services to help compensate for the cost of pay raises. The cost of goods and services is already on an increase due to the high cost of gas and oil. People are having to cut their spending or even choosing between what to spend on so that they can pay bills, and put food on the table, which return is hurting the economy because people do not have the extra money to buy extra things like, going out to restaurants, buying themselves some new clothes, household products, etc. Instead, these people are opting to stay home, watch cable and cook from home. If the minimum wage is increased the economy will immensely improve and people will have more money to spend, and hope and morale among low-income workers will improve. If there is a raise, more people will be determined to seek jobs, which will help the unemployment percent decrease. 

“Of course, nothing helps families make ends meet like higher wages. … And to everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this: If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it. If not, vote to give millions of the hardest-working people in America a raise.” -Barack Obama former 2009 Noble Peace Prize winner. He said this during his state of the union address, and here he challenges Congress to try and survive on minimum wage and be able to provide for themselves and their families, but still maintain a sustainable life. In fact, The White House Council of Economic Advisers estimates more than 28 million workers would benefit from the minimum wage increase. Raising the minimum wage would boost incomes for about 12 million people in poverty, and would help lift out more than 2 million people out of poverty. This all applies to a minimum-wage worker working full time, supporting a family of four and still receiving their tax credits. However, Alexandra Ocasio Cortez, the U.S. Representative for New York's 14th congressional district, a strong advocate for a living wage has decided that no member of her staff would make less than $52,000 a year. Salaries that will top out at $80,000 which is significantly lower than the $154,634 median pay for chiefs of staff, according to Roll Call. “A living wage is the minimum cost of labor. Anything less is exploitation.” She referenced this in her tweet towards Disney, a company that makes billions of dollars a year, yet still has employees having “poverty wages.” But it wasn’t just Alexandra Ocasio Cortez that called out Disney for low paying their employees, but also Bernie Sanders as he said during a rally attended by hundreds of other Disneyland workers, “ The struggle that you are waging here in Anaheim is not just for you,” he told the cheering crowd. “It is a struggle for millions of workers all across this country who are sick and tired of working longer hours for lower wages.” The Vermont senator was accompanied on stage by members of unions that have collected about 21,000 signatures, seeking to qualify a measure for the November municipal ballot that would require large employers accepting city subsidies to pay at least $15 an hour and to qualify for the ballot, the unions needed to collect the signatures of at least 10%, or 13,150, of the voters in Anaheim. If adopted, the measure would require that workers be paid a minimum of $15 an hour starting Jan. 1, 2019, with salaries rising $1 an hour every Jan. 1 through 2022. Once the wages reach $18 an hour, annual raises would be tied to the cost of living. During the rally, Bernie Sanders also invited many of the Disneyland workers to share their story and their struggles on working at Disney while getting low pay. An example could be Grace Torres and her husband, Edgar Campista, who lives in Garden Grove, said they both work at the resort but can’t afford to start a family. “Disney prides itself on making dreams come true, Disney, where is my dream?” If we raise the minimum wage to fifteen dollars an hour in the United States, we can truly make the world a better place, just one step at a time. By raising the Minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour, The United States can be a great example of paying minimum wage workers enough to live a decent lifestyle. People will be able to guarantee a roof over their child’s head as well as provide food without government assistance. For a person, it’s very degrading to be working long hours and get little pay for it. With the raising the minimum wage, people will be happy and feel like they can support their family or just even themselves. They will no longer have to rely on government assistance and live paycheck to paycheck. In the United States, jobs will flow and workers will be able to afford basic needs in life. Soon enough other countries will follow our example and raise their minimum wages to a living wage. Poverty will decrease and people will ultimately be happy. That’s the kind of country I want to live in. I mean who wouldn't want to? I mean it is the American Dream. By raising the minimum wage we can achieve the American Dream and live a nice and happy life, where one day people won’t be living paycheck by paycheck and be able to make their dreams come true. Where people don’t need to rely on food stamps and government assistance. Where we can go out to the movies or go to restaurants. We together can make a difference in this country by raising the minimum wage to $15, a living wage.

The author's comments:

This piece here covers an issue that I am very passionate about which is raising the minimum wage to $15. Though this was written before the pandemic, this still holds true even more direly today as there is an increase in loss of employment and we now need an increase in minimum wage more than ever to stay afloat in this rising economy.

Similar Articles


This article has 0 comments.