Ah, money, the driving force behind life in the modern world. With such a fickle piece of paper (or plastic, depending on your residency) running our lives, shouldn’t we be concerned? The fact that the one thing running our lives, affecting our decisions, causing stress and anxiety, and worsening our quality of life raises the question: why do we keep it around? With every state in the U.S. having a minimum wage at least $2.84 below the respective state’s livable wage 1, does this not raise concerns? People make the claim “only people who don’t need to move out yet make minimum wage”, yet, in 2022, 457,000 workers between the ages of 16—24 were making minimum wage, and 207,000 between the ages of 25—34 were making minimum wage 2.
Observationally, the people making this claim are also the people who claim “kids should be setting up at 16 to move out at 18″, but if the minimum wage is below the livable wage, and so much of our youth population is working for minimum wage, how is this ideal expected to be met? Another big issue with this conundrum is that the livable wage is calculated solely from the poverty threshold, which only takes into account a basic food budget 3. This means that livable wages aren’t accounting for health insurance, car insurance, gas, rent/mortgage payments, utilities, clothing, grooming supplies, and many more utilities which have now become a necessity in our modern society.
This counterargument is usually followed by the claim “you have to do good work to gain upwards mobility in a company, and earn your living.” This claim sounds preposterous when you take into account the fact that “In the U.S., 8% of children raised in the bottom 20% of the income distribution are able to climb to the top 20% as adults, while the figure in Denmark is nearly double at 15%.” 4
So what’s up with this? Now we’re getting to the heart of this issue:
INFINITE GROWTH IS NOT POSSIBLE ON A PLANET WITH FINITE RESOURCES
This is where the analogous title comes in, infinite growth, an unstoppable force, is meeting our finite allocation of resources, an immovable object (or, value, rather). Fred Magdoff and John Bellamy Foster have coined the concept of “the growth imperative of capitalism,” explaining that for capitalism to sustain viability, it is necessary to continually accrue capital, and maintain a reserve of unemployed workers 5. This mentality simply does not work on planet, in a universe with finite resources. The fall of the U.S.’ imperial capitalism is to come, whether by revolution, or time, it is inevitable.
Capitalism in the U.S. has created a situation where young workers who are expected to leave, and acquire their own home, utilities, and resources are not able to do so, budgeting is not enough to solve the problem of unlivable wages. There is nearly no room for upward mobility, especially in the lower and working class, who have not been graced with a financial and socioeconomic jumpstart. The U.S.’ form of capitalism is not working, it is bound to fail as it requires infinite growth where we only have finite resources.
Tate Green Relatively new writer on social and political topics. Strong believer in leftist ideals with the capacity to admit that I agree with some rightist beliefs.
Nothing much to say here, I hope you found this informative. Feel free to discuss anything in the comments, I will most likely respond, and a boost in engagement would also be nice.
- ↩: https://www.statista.com/chart/25574/living-wage-vs-minimum-wage-by-us-state/
- ↩: https://www.statista.com/statistics/298852/minimum-wage-workers-in-the-us-by-age/
- ↩: https://livingwage.mit.edu/resources/Living-Wage-Users-Guide-Technical-Documentation-2022-05-10.pdf (page 3, paragraph 1)
- ↩: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/mar/13/american-dream-broken-upward-mobility-us
- ↩: Fred Magdoff and John Bellamy Foster, “What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know about Capitalism” (chapter 3)