LETTERS: Minimum-wage jobs a training ground


To the editor:

Fast-food workers walked off their jobs Thursday while demanding $15 an hour for their work. This was designed to raise awareness and protest the low wages they receive. They claim the hard work of the average worker should be rewarded with a wage that can support a family, that fast-food companies are subsidized by public assistance programs used by fast-food employees, and that the corporations make so much profit they can handle the increase.

I supported those workers that day — by eating fast food. Even though I now work as a professor of history, I first entered the workforce making pizza for Little Caesars at $5.25 an hour. Upon reflection, I shouldn’t have gotten this job. I didn’t have a work ethic, I often arrived late, I didn’t have any specialized skills, and I probably ate enough free pizza to make a frat boy jealous.

But several years later, miraculously holding onto my job, I had figured out the value of showing up on time, obeying orders promptly, and I gained enough leadership skills to earn a promotion to shift manager, along with several raises. Eventually these skills helped me work harder in college. I remained in the library to study countless times when I really wanted to party with my friends. And now as a professor with extreme specialized skills, I command a much higher wage than my lazy and pimply 16-year-old self could imagine.

This process is repeated all over the country, as low-skilled workers enter the workforce and gain experience. They get their foot in the door to learn life and leadership skills that allow them to succeed in life and earn much more than the minimum wage. Roughly 80 percent of those who make the minimum wage are not supporting a family. The vast majority are youths under 25. And just as I learned, it is important for these workers to learn that the world pays a person what they are worth.

As a younger person, I was only qualified for a handful of jobs that many others could also perform. While I knew I was capable of great things, to a business owner, I was neither special nor entitled to a set wage. I received whatever wage I commanded through skills, training and experience.

Many people who work at fast-food restaurants aren’t slackers. Many are underserved by the school system and aren’t functionally literate. Some might have little ambition or drive to succeed. I wasn’t exactly conquering the world at 16, except in my computer games. Many others perhaps slacked off or took a break from life and found this was the only work they could get.

None of the deficiencies that result in a low-paying job are rectified by raising wages based on vague issues of fairness. Instead, the low wages earned while mopping floors and performing other inglorious work serve as a vital training ground and catalyst for the variety of poor and unskilled workers. Artificially raising their wages beyond the monetary value of their work denies them the essential training it brings. So save a slacker by keeping their wage low.

MORGAN DEANE

NORTH LAS VEGAS

R-J sensationalism

To the editor:

Regarding the “Deadly force: When LV police shoot, and kill” series on the Review-Journal website, this is hardly unbiased reporting. The series is filled with opinionated language shamelessly intending to influence public opinion on the subject, instead of just laying out all the facts and letting readers draw their own conclusions.

Since you’re doing that, however, how about another ongoing database to go along with it, such as “Review-Journal mishaps: When the Review-Journal publishes inaccuracies, and claims they are facts.” Or, “Review-Journal sensationalism: When we sensationalize part of our story, and minimize or omit parts that would tend to take away from the shock and awe value.”

M. ROSE

NORTH LAS VEGAS

 

Rules for posting comments

Comments posted below are from readers. In no way do they represent the view of Stephens Media LLC or this newspaper. This is a public forum. Read our guidelines for posting. If you believe that a commenter has not followed these guidelines, please click the FLAG icon next to the comment.