By: Andrew D, John P, Min A
The Florida $15 minimum wage initiative, passed in 2020, is in all ways a band-aid solution to the problem of ever-increasing cost of living. While the idea of $15 an hour sounds very good, ultimately it is 65% of the purchasing power of $4.03 in 1973, the year that the purchasing power of the working class was at its highest. Not only is this the case—with the true equivalent to 2022 being $23.68 an hour—but at the yearly raise of a dollar until 2026, it will be even more worthless when it actually gets to being $15 an hour.
Evidence for this is made plainly clear by the increasingly high cost of living in Florida, which is about $43,615 according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Assuming one worked 52 weeks per year, 40 hours a week, with zero sick days, without factoring tax this would be $31,200. And this would be at $15, which won’t even be the minimum wage until 2026
In 2020, Florida voters by popular vote passed Amendment 2 to the state constitution, a ballot initiative enacting a $15 an hour wage incrementally. The ballot initiative proposed that first, in 2021 the minimum wage would be raised from $8.65 to $10, then each subsequent year wages would be raised by $1 a year until it reached $15 in 2026. Despite opposition to the proposal depicting this as a “radical policy” with costs so high it could bankrupt industries, the returns are woefully insufficient for the needs of the workers of Florida.
Evidence for this is made plainly clear by the increasingly high cost of living in Florida, which is about $43,615 according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Assuming one worked 52 weeks per year, 40 hours a week, with zero sick days, without factoring tax this would be $31,200. And this would be at $15, which won’t even be the minimum wage until 2026. One can only imagine how incredibly inadequate that will be by then!
In order to live at $15 an hour now, Floridians are in essence asked which of the vital parts of their lives they are willing to stretch to the limit of tolerability. The state is asking the Floridian working class how many broken fingers they’re willing to live with, whether they have a meal today, or have to employ strict power or water rationing. Or would they like to work multiple jobs? There are only 115 waking hours in a week, and they spend 40 of those at work. Should they get another job, spending even less of their 75 hours a week being able to cook, clean and relax? Should they move in with roommates or live with their parents, pooling their financial woes just in order to live? Are workers expected to live like this until they then “retire” on an already pitiful social security and on practically nothing in terms of savings?
So, why are these wages worth practically nothing? Bourgeois greed, and inflation. Earlier, it was mentioned that a wage of $15 does not even match the meager-sounding amount of $4.03, but that was the height of purchasing power! Adjusting for inflation, $4.03 in 1973 would be worth $23.68 today. As the concrete, real wages of Americans continue to fall and $15 continues to be dangled in front of workers as a high bar, workers will feel like they can demand less and less, they’ll be more willing to work longer hours, and put up with more. The opponents first and foremost of a reasonable wage are those who are the first to raise prices on precious goods that are required to live!
It should of course be noted that such a low wage has a cascading effect on all areas of life. Even for workers who do not make minimum wage, the minimum wage is considered the “baseline” for new workers, it determines the perception by workers what they should base their earnings around, affects how long strikes can last or how much of a “rainy day fund” people can reasonably build up. It is the determining factor for food, for rent and utilities, emergencies such as vehicles breaking down, medical emergencies and even apart from dire matters, it determines how much funds one has for leisure time activities as well.
It is then quite obvious that the 2020 public initiative to raise the wage to $15 an hour is not just ineffective in of itself, but that $15 an hour and similar reforms are but minor building blocks to increase workers power in the United States, and are incredibly insufficient on their own. The working class of Florida need to step up and demand a wage tied to inflation , a wage of $23.68, one that can allow the working class breathing room to unite against their class enemies who live in luxury.
Categories: U.S. News