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laurav

Dear Editor,

I would like to address some of the concerns regarding the minimum wage hike in Ontario. 
First and foremost I can't express strongly enough how necessary it is. People should not be working regular hours and living in poverty. That, in itself, is fundamentally unacceptable and, frankly, embarrassing for a rich country such as ours.
Many people are afraid that it will hurt businesses. For those people, I suggest you look into how a Capitalist economy  is supposed to work. Basically, it won't work if people don't buy stuff. For people to buy stuff, people need to have money to spend. This is, usually, where the trickle down effect comes into the argument. Unfortunately, the ultra rich are investing most of their money so they can be even richer. There also aren't enough of them to be a full customer base for every business as it is also important to note that investing in start-ups won't work if there aren't any people who can afford to be customers. Most of the population are middle to low wage earners and, although, there are enough of them to support those businesses, there isn't a lot of money in that sector compared to the ultra rich. This is the core issue. Middle incomers are doing okay, but as the cost of living goes up, and the minimum wage stays the same, more people are entering the low wage world. I hate to break it to you, but low-income workers don't have enough money to support the economy. It's not that they won't shop, it's that they, literally, can't. Hence the raise in the minimum wage.
The next issue is that people are arguing that businesses can't support the raise. This is untrue. Although businesses can't afford higher wages at their current level of customer traffic, a raise in minimum wage would mean more customers, which means more money which means they can afford to pay their employees more. Raising prices and cutting down ones workforce perpetuates the economic problems that raising the minimum wage is meant to combat. 
It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Businesses are so freaked out that they can't afford to maintain business at the current level of traffic, that they eliminate the ability for an increase in traffic that would, ultimately make more money. And then there are those businesses that are afraid they can't afford their annual tropical holiday if their employees are paid more. (The less I talk about them, the fewer expletives I'll be tempted to use.) Basically, people need to chill out and let the economy heal without picking at the wound.
Some people still justify a less than liveable wage reflects a necessary element to society.
Proving that Max Weber's Protestant Ethic is still alive and well in modern Capitalist Canada. (If you're not familiar, I highly recommend you look it up. It's a mind-blower.) 
The Puritan and Calvinist ideology that those that prosper are in God's good graces and the poor are unworthy and must work harder has translated into the modern secular excuses: 
1. "They'll probably spend it on drugs."
2. "They'll be making as much as people who went to college and that's not fair." 
3. "They won't have the incentive to improve their lives." 
etc.
To which I would answer: 
1. Rich people do drugs too. More even, as poor people can't afford that kind of luxury. Also, if they weren't suffering, those who do use drugs wouldn't need the escape.
2. Maybe trades people also need a raise, that doesn't mean the minimum shouldn't be higher. It's a completely irrelevant point to the fact that poverty = bad. 
3. This one's a three-parter: 
 1-They can't afford the luxury of improving their lives. 
 2. There are an incredible amount of College and University graduates working minimum wage jobs. (I know this from experience, as I have been one of them.) Those who dared to go into debt to improve their conditions only to find a lack of opportunities at the other end and are now paying off student debts on top of their regular bills on a wage that barely supports them. 
 3. Those jobs are necessary to society at present so those who do them should have more respect for filling them.
There are many ways that people justify treating the poor as lesser people. I've heard every one of them. None of the arguments are well informed and most are downright insulting. So here's what I have to say to everyone who's using unfounded arguments against the raise in the minimum wage:
If you hate poor people, stop trying to justify it. Just admit that you think poor people are gross, because those of us who have had to live on minimum wage aren't buying your excuses.

Laura VanDyk

Owen Sound

(Laura is currently studying at Trent University)

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