Guest Viewpoint: Raising the federal minimum wage

This piece reflects the views of the author, Eugene-Springfield Solidarity Network Board Member David Piccioni, and not those of Emerald Media Group. It has been edited by the Emerald for grammar and style. Send your columns or submissions about our content or campus issues to [email protected]

A panel addressing the controversy regarding minimum wage was held at the University of Oregon on Feb. 242 by the Student Labor Action Project. The question was weather small businesses can afford to pay wages such as $15/hr.

A few weeks ago, the Department of Labor stated that 50% of businesses don’t last more than 4 years as is. Also, the expenditure a small venture devotes to paying workers is relatively small compared with other expenses. This supports the idea that minimum wages don’t majorly influence businesses’ survival and can rise.

But should they?

A country that considers itself “the greatest in history” and cannot supply its workforce with the basics after performing any function is deluding itself and its citizenry as to its worth. Social democracies such as Canada and the European nations with the highest standards of living have other things at play that help this delicate balance.

One major cost for employers is health care. All these countries have some form of Single-payer, which shifts a lot of the burden off the owners. Even with a modest tax increase this is a definite plus for businesses. Another benefit these other countries have compared with ours is that education for them is not a cause for indebtedness. For most, it is free and depends on effort and intelligence not money.

Because of these reasons alone it is feasible and ethical to shrink the gap in wealth inequality by paying our workforce more money.

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Tanner Owens

Tanner Owens