Minimum Rage

This is a rant. A whole lot of opinion, experience, and some frustration put into text and organized in some sort of, maybe logical, order. You can be offended by my opinion if you want. You can also agree with it if you like. Just remember, you have an opinion too so the fact that I have one, is not a crime. 

It shouldn’t be new news to anyone that minimum wage has been a hot topic lately. So, I think it’s my turn to weigh in on the subject. The issue we see in the news is that fast food workers want the minimum wage raised to $15 an hour. They believe they deserve a “livable” wage. The argument has two sides; those in favor and those who oppose. However, raising the minimum wage really isn’t the true problem or a good solution. Let me explain.

Traditionally, there have been two types of people working in minimum wage positions; students who don’t have the time or experience for full-time work and people who set the bar low and haven’t moved on from a minimum wage position due to lack of skill and motivation. Now, a lot of people have taken offense to comments made in this debate. People who oppose raising the minimum wage have been insulting the intelligence of minimum wage workers. They don’t deserve that, but at the same time, there are many minimum wage workers who are lazy, ignorant, and not too bright. Anyone who has been to a fast food restaurant has witnessed this. This however, does not represent minimum wage workers as a whole. Along with the first two groups of minimum wage workers I mentioned before, there is a third group that has significantly increased in recent years; the over-qualified.

This is where I think the real problem is. Minimum wage jobs exist to get people accustomed to being in the work force. They start off in a job where no previous skills are required and they are spoon-fed everything they need to know. Many minimum wage jobs require little thinking. It shouldn’t be a livable wage. These jobs are intended to show kids responsibility and give them enough money to hang out with their friends. Minimum wage jobs were never meant to be for single parents with multiple kids. They should be in jobs a step up from minimum wage. Line workers. Managers. Even the butcher at your grocery store. Jobs that don’t require education but do require experience. Those jobs start slightly lower than $15/hour and can reach wages significantly higher. Why should a job requiring no skill pay the same as one that requires it?

The real problem isn’t how much minimum wage pays. The true issue is how many people are stuck in minimum wage positions. If you have waited in a drive-thru in the past few years, you should notice that the age of fast food workers is increasing. I was once in the same position as these people. After losing my job, I submitted hundreds of applications. I had to settle for a restaurant job. Sometimes it’s hard to get the job you want, just because you lack a degree. Sometimes it’s because the jobs just don’t exist.

Minimum wage jobs aren’t just flooded with people who had to settle. There are also many senior citizens taking these jobs. Their retirement took such a hit, that they need a source of income. This is why people want the minimum wage increased. There are so many people in these positions that need a livable wage. Increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour will not solve the problem. We need more jobs for our experienced workers.

Fourteen months after I was laid off from my job, I was called back to work but there was a noticeable change in my industry. I work for a small engineering company and our main area of expertise is in automotive tools. We make the equipment that makes our vehicles. When I went back to work, some of our competition and partner companies did not. Many automotive suppliers were phased out. Most automotive related companies rely on people who don’t have degrees, but have the experience to get the job done. They, by definition, are our middle class and middle class jobs have changed significantly. Many of those jobs are now within the tech sector. Programmers, IT, and so on. Some of these tech companies make physical products and according to them, to bring jobs to the United States, jobs making consumer products designed by tech giants,  they need thousands of qualified people. People who don’t hold degrees, but are smarter than the average high school graduate. According to these companies and our President, we don’t have enough of these people to justify bringing those jobs from China, back to our own country.

Do you see where I am starting to go with this?

Let me give you a little insight into me. Who I am. What I do. What I see.

Currently, I work in automation controls. Ever see an assembly line? I make those machines work. I make them function properly and safely. I don’t have a degree. I stopped going to college when I saw many of my friends struggling (some for years) to get jobs in their degree field. Having student loans and no work is not where I wanted to be. Though I lack fomal education, I have a lifetime of experience designing, building, and fabricating. I have experience with mechanical drafting, technical writing, welding, quality control, robotics, testing, machining, automotive repairs, carpentry, electrical, electronics repair, and so on. I grew up as an engineer’s son. Well, stepson. Even before my mom and stepfather were married, I loved all things mechanical. I wanted to know how everything worked and I wanted to design and build things. Having an engineer for a father was just meant to be. When I was in elementary school, I started working on small engines. In junior high, I was building and rebuilding bicycles and motorcycles. I’ve always tinkered with complex electronics too. I wanted the first generation iPhone so bad, I bought replacement parts online and built one for a fraction of the off-contract price. I still make custom parts for my vehicles and home to this day. I’m by no means some super-genius. I’m just very mechanically and technically inclined. I’ve met many people like me over the years. Some of these people struggle to get noticed at their jobs and get into the positions they were meant for. Some of these people struggle to even at least get in their industry of expertise.

From here, let’s look at the reason why this is, then continue on to make my point about jobs in this country and minimum wage.

Many employers look for a degree first. It’s almost as if, to them, the degree makes the person. Do you know how many incompetent, educated people I have met over the years? Many. Just as many of them as brilliant, uneducated people. I’ve been passed up for promotions, doing work that I actually have done before and am good at, for people with no work experience but they do have a college degree. Guess what the result was? I had to train the people! Two different instances at the same company. Back in the good old days, people were hired based on their willingness to work and willingness to learn. Companies would hire people for their raw talent. Not a piece of paper that said they studied hard and passed their exams(not that college is bad. Education is a good thing). Studying something and actually using the information in the real world are two different things. Did you know that photographers, graphic designers, computer programmers, web designers, and other creative types still get hired based on what they can do? Many of the most talented in these fields are self taught. Some of them even high school dropouts.

Now, I am focusing mostly on engineering-type jobs. The type of jobs our President recently said we don’t have enough qualified people to fill. If that is true, why do companies like Quirky exist? Quirky takes the ideas of average people and turns them into real products. What about Kickstarter? People take their ideas to this website and whoever feels inclined to support that idea, donates money to take it from an idea to a real product or service. If you haven’t noticed, DIY is a really big thing right now. Startup companies are the new way of getting things done.

I think I see where all the intelligent people are. The people who could do these manufacturing jobs (engineering, management, quality, assembly, logistics, etc) are sick of waiting for the jobs, so they create their own. Why do you think tech giants buy so many startups? That’s how they get truly valuable employees. They didn’t just build a startup company. They created a resume, filled out a job application, completed an internship and proved their value all at once. I truly believe that the lack of proper employment for the middle class is propelling some into the world of startups and holding others back. Those of us who hold true, middle-class jobs; are we lucky, complacent, or really just somewhere in between?

With that, I will close this rant. It is all based on my personal experience and my personal experience is based on what I view in the news and what I view around me. I also want to challenge the President and the large companies who could create jobs for us: look at where we are and truly try to see what got us here. Look at the points I made. Do we really have a shortage of qualified people? Would less-than-qualified people rise to the challenge if given the chance? You possess the power to influence real change in America. Give people hope again. Give them a source of self-worth. Give them jobs. Raising the minimum wage isn’t just “raising the minimum wage.” It is lowering the American standard.

 

The Lunch Hour Revolution #4

These posts are intended for people who claim they are “too busy” to pursue things that we think should be done in our spare time. Spare time just doesn’t fall in your lap. You have to make time. These posts will focus on things that can be done in the little time set aside for lunch.

Yahoo! puts useful lists together usually about once a week. These lists are intended to inform and empower readers. This list featured at the link below is right up my alley. It features degrees you can earn on your lunch break. I am currently doing this as well. I studied graphic design in the late 90’s on a beige MacIntosh with Mac OS8 or 9. I still remember how to do quite a bit, but a lot has changed since those days, so I’m taking an online class during my lunch break. In 14 hours of lessons (and the accompanying homework) I will be officially Photoshop certified. Take a look at the list Yahoo! put together and see if an education is in your future.

http://education.yahoo.net/articles/school_on_your_lunch_hour.htm?kid=1O0PA

The Lunch Hour Revolution #3

These posts are intended for people who claim they are “too busy” to pursue things that we think should be done in our spare time. Spare time just doesn’t fall in your lap. You have to make time. These posts will focus on things that can be done in the little time set aside for lunch.

This will be short and sweet. On my lunch break today, I installed a trailer hitch. Hope you enjoyed your burger.

Disclaimer

I do have some very strong opinions on topics of the world. I have criticisms, like everyone, and for those who may be reading some of my more opinionated content, I have prepared this disclaimer. There varying personalities in this world and some people may be shocked, offended, or completely ignorant to some of the things I may say. So, if you fall into any of the proceeding categories of people, please do not read or comment on my posts.

 

Selective Attention Disorder: 

If you suffer from selective attention disorder, then it would be a good idea to stay away from my blog. People with SAD tend to read or hear certain details and ignore everything else presented to them. People suffering from SAD also have the propensity to hold on to that little bit of information as if it is the complete representation of what they were reading or hearing, and then become completely bent out of shape over it. Here is an example: a certain teenager I know suffers from this. If I was to say to them ,“if you get all of your homework done by 7:30, we may be able to go out for ice cream.” What they really hear is, “we’re going out for ice cream.”  After a few hours of texting, taking breaks and not doing much homework, the following conversation usually takes place.

“When are we going for ice cream?”

“We’re not.”

“You said we were!”

“No. I said if you finished your homework before 7:30 we may be able to go.”

“You are such a liar! You promised me we would go. You even said ‘I promise.’”

“I never promised anything.”

“You are such a liar and I hate you! You get me all excited by promising me ice cream, then change your mind!”

“You need to start listening better. Nothing was promised and my mind never changed. If you wanted ice cream, you should have payed attention and did your homework.”

If you read this dialog and thought,”that poor girl didn’t get her ice cream,” then you should just stop reading this post and go on with your life.

 

People who only see in black and white:

I don’t mean people who are completely color-blind. I am talking about people who think of everything in terms of all or nothing. There are only two options for everything. You are either right or wrong. There is no in-between. There are only two, opposite extremes. There is no gray area. I’m not bashing this way of thinking. There are situations where this is true. I even make an agreement in my mind about certain topics, that there is only black or white. To do this in every aspect of your life is silly and there is a very good reason for me to say that; mankind is  the gray area. We live in the gray area. We are our own worst contradictions. The very worst of us are not completely evil and the best of us are not always the best. Evil people are still capable of compassion and good people are still capable of wrongdoing. Evil people show compassion and good people commit wrongdoing. Everyday. 

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I can absolutely respect that. However, if you like to blatantly dismiss facts to support your opinion and paint a gray picture as being completely black or completely white, then maybe you won’t enjoy my posts too much. When it comes to our actions, though, there should be no gray area. So in that regard, you are more than welcome to try to be as good as you can.

 

Those with low comprehension:

Everyone works in different ways. We are all wired differently. Some people have trouble understanding things. It can be very frustrating to not understand something. Sometimes people who have trouble understanding are labeled as simple-minded. This really isn’t true. Simple-minded people tend to like simplicity and don’t care to have their lives complicated. They do everything simply (this doesn’t mean inefficiently or poorly) and they don’t pursue understanding of things beyond what is readily apparent. People with low comprehension usually do want to know things, they just can’t get past some mental hurdles that prevent them from understanding. People who suffer from this tend to think everything they don’t like is “stupid.” They hate things they don’t understand. Unfortunately, the people that I have met who have this trait, don’t really realize they have it or won’t believe they have it. This is frustrating not only for that person, but also the people around them.

 

Now, I didn’t do this to make fun of anyone. I didn’t do this to point out anybody’s flaws. I did this because I realize that all of us are guilty of these things at points in our lives and some of us have the tendency to do these things more often. I could have kept going. I could have made a much longer list. This isn’t really a disclaimer. I welcome anyone with any opinion to read my posts. Consider this my first opinionated post and realize this: we all have biases. We all have life experiences and personalities that lead us to our own opinions and conclusions. My warning is to not let yourself get in the way of yourself. Don’t let your biases prevent you from expanding your mind or learning anything new. Keep reading if you choose. Feel free to leave your feedback as well, just be professional about it.