Annoying, Distracting Minimum Wage Arguments

Perhaps it’s because of what I follow on Facebook, or perhaps it is because of what other people follow on Facebook. I do not know which, but regularly I find myself pulling my hair out because of annoying memes or photos that portray a higher minimum wage in a negative view.

You’ve probably seen one yourself; there are a variety of common favorites it seems. Two general themes bother me the most, and they often depict members of the military or emergency response workers.


Here’s an example of one that’s shown up dozens of times in my timeline. (Apparently Sarah Palin shared this once upon a time…) The truth is it would be illegal for anyone who works for, or in, the United States to make less than the minimum wage. If it really was true that a soldier, woman or man, made less than the federal minimum wage, don’t you think some senator (Republican or Democrat) would be making a huge deal about it by now?

EMS minimum wage

And this one. What is important to acknowledge is that yes, EMS workers currently make less than $15 per hour in some cases. Yes, I really think EMS workers should make more money than they do currently, and yes, they should make more money than cooks and cashiers.

What makes me so angry about the EMS meme and the varying forms depicting members of the military is that it seems as though the internet is so quick to lose sight of the fact that EVERYONE NEEDS A RAISE IN THIS COUNTRY. If the math adds up so that $15 an hour is what it takes to just get by in present day, then let’s make that happen. Kudos to the cashiers and cooks and fast food workers who are fighting to better their own lives. Sometimes there just are no other options for employment.

The next step is for the nation to stand up for our service men and women and declare that their starting wages are too low for the work they do, so they need a raise too. It’s important to note that we as a nation would have to stand up for them, because they can’t protest. They would probably be jailed for doing that.

And EMS workers need to stand up for themselves too if they want to earn more for the important and difficult work they do, just like those who are Fighting for 15 are doing.

Sure, some people logically should make more money than others based upon the jobs they do. But let’s not get so defensive towards each other to the point where nobody gets a raise. Let’s remember what it costs to get by, and let’s remember how to organize.

Comment (1)

  1. Rosi Efthim

    I always laugh at the right-wing assumption that left-wing people are anti-soldier and anti-vet. For me, I can’t think of any greater use for my tax dollars than to make sure our promises to our active-duty and veterans are met and exceeded, and that includes decent pay and benefits for our forces, and a good life for their families. [And the corollary that a president (and Congress’) great responsibility, maybe greatest, is to make competent and intelligent decisions about when and how to deploy our people.]

    That said, I believe in the adage that a rising tide lifts all boats. There are many minimum wage workers in my neighborhood (and not all of them work in the fast-food industry). They’re my neighbors, and it matters to me how well they do. FightFor15 has allies everywhere – in poor cities and rich suburbs, in the military and among first responders, among people in the same boat and people making vastly more.

    The growing organizing among and for low-wage workers must scare the hell out of the behemoths of the service economy. They’ve built an entire economic structure on devaluing work and devaluing workers, an entire economy that isolates and pampers the rich and leaves millions struggling. No wonder the Sarah Palins of the world further straw man arguments, er, memes.


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