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Will Perkins/ Columnist

Having just celebrated Labor Day, I was inspired to share my thoughts on a very divisive and controversial issue in our country — minimum wage. Many of you may disagree with me right from the beginning, but I’m going to get straight to the point.

I strongly believe if you work 40 hours a week, you deserve to earn a livable wage.

And I don’t care where you work. If you are an American and you spend most of your week doing something productive for our society, I firmly believe you should be able to afford to live here.

Let’s go ahead and mention the one profession that is always brought up in this conversation — the fast-food worker. Many people I have spoken with are extremely against a fast-food worker earning any more than the seven or eight dollars that most of them currently make. They say it’s a job for high school students. It’s a stepping stone. You’re supposed to work there until you can get a “real” job.

There are exceptions, but let me just say that a lot of the people who think fast-food workers don’t deserve a raise seem to be the same ones who frequent fast-food restaurants. I only bring that up because if you frequent a type of business, that industry must be pretty important to your daily or weekly routine. If their service is something that you benefit from, why wouldn’t you want the people working in the service positions to be compensated to the point that they could continue to support themselves?

Starbucks is an example of a progressive company that offers its workers benefits. We all hear people complaining about how expensive their coffee is — my co-worker, Daniel Suddeath, often refers to it as “Five Bucks.”

While I don’t spend five dollars on my cup of coffee — I found that you can purchase an iced coffee for $3.13 in Kentucky — I will gladly pay the extra price because I know that the company supports its workers.

I bring that up because one of the arguments against raising the minimum wage is that the price of goods will inevitably go up as well. I think if the price of a fast-food burger gets too expensive for you, maybe you should head to your local grocery store, buy a hunk of ground beef and get your hands greasy. But people will still buy fast-food burgers because they are very convenient.

I hear a lot of complaints about people on welfare, and how they work the system to never work. What if we raised the minimum wage to a point where we didn’t need welfare? What if we made the system to where people made more money when they actually work?

I know this goes against every American capitalistic ideal — and I may be called a communist for this — but I wish that every member of society could just do whatever they are good at and be compensated enough to survive. I understand this is an extreme statement and would never work because people would inevitably take advantage of the system, but it’s just wishful thinking.

I grew up in a two-parent household and I was given all the chances in the world to be successful and where I am today. My parents served as a safety net for me when times were tough.

It is because of this that I have no problem spending a good chunk of my paycheck on a societal safety net. I believe that everyone deserves a chance to be successful. Yes, there will always be people who abuse the system — in the same way there will always be drivers who wait until the last minute to merge over even though there were signs for at least two miles prior.

I prefer to be the driver who merges over as soon as I can. I’ll wait in the long line while other drivers zoom past until the last second.

I believe a society that works together stays together. I think there is a widening gap in wealth in this country and it’s only getting worse. If we can’t all prosper as a country, what’s the point? Do you really need 10 cars and four houses in multiple states and countries? I understand that people who work hard should be compensated, but what about the people who work hard and can’t seem to save a dime, much less pay all of their bills on time?

I think it’s time we take a stand for everyone.

If you work full-time in America, you should be able to live here, too.

Perkins is a reporter for the Glasgow Daily Times. Reach him at 270-678-5171, wperkins@glasgowdailytimes.com.

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