There has been so much in the news of people protesting about raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour. So many of these people are saying we should force companies like Wal-Mart and McDonald’s to pay employees a “living wage”. The protestors almost make it sound like these businesses are forcing people to work for them. As I listen to the rhetoric I find that many of the protestors have no concept of how businesses work. Their argument usually boils down to something not being “fair” (whatever that means?).
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: your boss didn’t create his company to employ you. For that matter Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, or any other company does not exist simply to provide jobs. An employer has job openings because they have a task that needs done and they assign a value (the wage and benefits) for a person to do that task. The good thing is that you get to decide if that value is enough for you. They can’t put a gun to your head and make you work for them.
Companies provide a service or a product and that has many costs associated with it. Some of the costs may include rent, raw materials, utility bills, transportation, machinery, technology, and even labor (i.e. – your pay). Every business in America has to add up all these costs and subtract it from what they charge for their product or service. This is how they make (or lose) money. The sole purpose for a business’ existence is to make money, NOT to provide you with anything. The fact that they give you a job says that you provide THEM with something.
You don’t have a “right” to work anywhere; you either meet a company’s needs or you don’t. Employers should be able to set any requirements they want, in my opinion. This would include salary, benefits, and hours. Your solution is very simple.
If you don’t like the pay they offer, then you don’t have to work there.
If you don’t like the insurance they offer to employees, then you don’t have to work there.
If you don’t like the hours they want you to work, again, you don’t have to work there.
They are not allowed to MAKE you work there. You get to decide.
It’s a beautiful thing!
We are promised “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. You have the freedom and privilege to pursue your own happiness any way you choose. – This means, that your boss does too. – There are many ways to pursue your happiness. I encourage you to pursue your happiness in any legal way that you see fit.
I have pursued my own financial happiness in many ways. More on that in a little bit…
One path you can choose is to start at the bottom of a larger company and move up while proving that you deserve more pay or benefits. Many managers and district managers of companies such as Wal-Mart and McDonald’s have chosen this path. Large companies provide lower paying entry-level jobs that give an opportunity for anyone to prove himself or herself. As they say, the cream will rise to the top. If you are worth it they will recognize it and use your skill, hard work, and determination. They want to make profits so they obviously want the best people running their stores and restaurants.
For example, you may start in a menial job like a “fry cook” at McDonald’s. If you are their best fry cook, you always come to work on time, and you constantly work hard, they will want you as an example to other employees. They may eventually promote you to assistant manager so you can drive your work ethic through the organization. You will get more pay as your responsibility goes up (as it should be). Then it’s up to you to become the best assistant manager and make them notice you. You should focus on running the most efficient shift at your local McDonald’s. They may recognize your accomplishments and want you to be the manager and drive that same work ethic into the other assistant managers, again with a raise in pay and responsibility. Then, you may move on to district manager, etc. Eventually, you will either be happy with your position or reach a ceiling and use your new résumé to leverage yourself for more pay with another company. To expect to receive all of these benefits while only maintaining one skill (like making French fries) is not realistic. In fact, it’s more than naïve; I would call it lazy.
I once worked for a small manufacturing company. I started at minimum wage, which was not much, at the time. I could barely get by.
So guess what I did?
I worked my butt off.
I had to work as much overtime as I could, just to pay my bills. I even had to take a second job. I showed up every day, put my head down and went to work.
I wish I could say every one of my co-workers also did this. Sadly, many just refused to either work or even come to work consistently. Several would just sit in the break room and complain. I would hear things like, “This is how hard I’ll work for seven bucks an hour, if they want more work out of me, they should pay up”. They would talk about how the owner of this small factory had nice vehicles and a nice house. They especially talked about his motor home. Basically, they were lazy and jealous. They fooled themselves into thinking they were somehow getting cheated.
In stark contrast, I put my head down, worked, and kept my mouth shut. I would be embarrassed to slack off and get a reputation for being lazy. I will work hard for 20k or 100k because it’s in my nature and I gave my word. You see, in my mind when I shake your hand and agree to work for you and the terms are clearly spelled out, I have to honor them. Furthermore, I expect my boss to do the same. If he agrees to pay me a specific amount, he had better do so. As long as he’s holding up his end of the bargain why shouldn’t I do the same? How did he treat me unfairly? Jesus Christ himself addressed this in Matthew 20:1-16
But I digress.
Eventually my boss called me into his office. He asked if I would be interested in supervising the shift and creating the daily schedule. He assigned a value to that position that doubled my pay. I agreed and more financial security came to my young family. I eventually hit a ceiling and moved on to another company. Was I lucky? Absolutely not. Over the years, I’ve come to understand that the harder I work, the luckier I get.
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