Wednesday, 25 November 2015

5 Dangers of the Minimum Wage Mentality

When I was a student, I was aware of the concept of minimum wage from the point of view of human rights. It is important not to pay someone below a certain amount. That part I understand. However, after making Aliyah, a different angle was introduced to me which is actually very dangerous and rather troubling. The idea is that of pushing Olim into minimum wage work. Actually, I have seen it also with the orphan Chatanim and Kallot that we assist, even those who are born in Israel. Most troubling is the extent to which someone who comes to Israel with a profession or a skill and have a desire to strive towards earning a decent income will be encouraged or even pushed into minimum wage in general and very often this will be menial tasks such as cleaning houses.

This ideology is very damaging and I often wonder if this is what has contributed to the high percentage of unemployed and poverty in Israel. 

Let us take a look at some of the dangers:

1) A person who earns minimum wage will have a limit to his or her income. This means that if anything arises (which happens in life) that requires more than the very basic minimum, the earner is unlikely to have the means to pay for it. 

2) Many food items that are necessary for a healthy, balanced diet do not fit into the budget for a minimum wage worker which can result in health problems. This can lead to other expenses or loss of earning potential and a risk of becoming a strain on the community.

3) Someone who is earning a minimum wage is often unable to afford courses to be able to improve his or her situation in life. This then becomes limiting and has detrimental psychological or emotional consequences.

4) A person who earns a minimum wage will probably be unable to afford a down payment on an apartment. This forces the person to rent and can result in the person moving frequently. Moving is one of the highest stressors. Stress has a direct negative impact on health and can negatively impact many aspects of the persons daily functioning.

5) If someone remains in minimum wage work once they have children, the expense of providing for a child or children can become too much for their budget. As a result, a vicious cycle can and often does arise of poverty for the next generation. Items that low wage earners often begin to scrimp on are toys and educational materials, amongst other items, which can then lead to limitations on the learning potential of the child (children). 

These are the first five dangers that come to mind, it could be there are more. If you can think of others, please do share them in the comments below. Though there is a role of minimum wage to make sure that the general population is not taken advantage of, there are risks of forcing people into minimum wage. One of the biggest dangers is creating a society that believes that earning adequately to cover all of ones needs is anything from wrong, impossible, not accepted etc. The truth is that everyone has not only a right but an obligation to determine for themselves what their budget is to cover their daily expenses and to strive towards obtaining an income that will enable them to meet these goals and needs. 

If earning above a minimum wage is important to you, do be in touch for the occupational therapy services of Shoshanah Shear with a special interest in empowering widows and orphans.

Have a blessed day

Shoshanah Shear
Occupational Therapist, Freelance Writer
Author and Aliyah Coach

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