Friday, August 30, 2013

Should Fast Food Workers Get Paid More?

Yeah.  They should.  Minimum wage should be higher.  People should be able to at least earn a living wage.

I thought of this issue today while I was buying a sugar free iced vanilla coffee at  McDonald's.  Since there is no Starbucks near me, I have taken to buying iced coffee at McD's, which is not as good as Starbucks, but is good enough and is also cheap.  A large iced coffee for a dollar.  I can get four or five of those for what I'd pay for one iced skinny vanilla latte at Starbucks.

But if McDonald's employees got paid more, like enough  money that they could actually support themselves and maybe even their kids on their wages, I don't think McD's would be selling iced coffees for a dollar anymore.

I don't believe most people are against fast food workers earning more.  It's just like most people are not really against poor people having health insurance.  It's a matter of people being afraid that if someone else gets something, that will mean something is taken away from them.  People are afraid if we provide medical care to poor people that currently can't get care, it will mean they end up getting less care.  People would not mind if poor people got antibiotics when they are sick, but they don't want to give up their chiropractic adjustments in order for those poor people to get those antibiotics. 

That may sound pretty cynical, the part about chiropractic adjustments, but many insurance policies do cover them these days.  Medicare now covers them and I just found out the other day that Medicaid does in my state, too.  And I think it's great that chiropractic care is covered.  I wish massage therapy and acupuncture was covered, too.  However, I also think we should prioritize.  I would like to be able to get a massage and some acupuncture for my back pain, and I'm glad I could go see a chiropractor for my back pain if I wanted to, but I think antibiotics for someone with an infectious illness are actually more important.  I would be willing to give up my chiropractic coverage in order to give someone else antibiotics.

I take my back problems very seriously.  I have serious back pain.  I think I should be able to get medical treatment for it when needed.  But I think some medical things, like infectious diseases,  prenatal care, and treatment for things like HIV are more urgent and more important and I would be willing to give up some of the medical coverage I have right now in order to provide those things for people that currently need them but can't get them.

I also like being able to get iced coffee for a dollar.  If the price doubled, though, I would still buy iced coffee.  If the price tripled, I might buy it less often.  And I'm talking about McDonald's prices; if Starbucks doubled their prices, I would probably never buy another skinny vanilla latte again.

Would people stop eating at McDonald's if they raised their prices in order to pay workers a living wage?  I don't think so.  Some people might.  Some people might eat there less often or buy less when they do eat there.  But I really do not believe McDonald's would go out of business.

Would customers like paying more?  Of course not.  But you know, some customers wouldn't mind so much, not if they understand why the prices were going up.  I wouldn't mind.  If I knew that I now had to pay $2 for an iced coffee so that a single mother could afford to move out of her parents' house into her own apartment with her daughter, or so that a young man with HIV could afford medication to prevent that HIV from developing into AIDS, or so that a woman with PTSD (like me) could afford to see a counselor a couple times a month, or so that an older gentleman with diabetes would no longer have to choose between buying healthful food or insulin (the food they give out at the food pantry is not very diabetic-appropriate, unfortunately, it's very carb-heavy)... Yeah, I'd be happy to pay an extra dollar.

Would everyone be happy to pay more?  No, I'm sure they wouldn't.  But doesn't it seem like the right thing to do?

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