Minimum wage is livable

May 22, 2019 (443 words) :: A series of tweets responding to the claim that minimum wage is livable if you cut out, well, most of the things that make life worth living.
Tags: class-struggle

This post is day 142 of a personal challenge to write every day in 2019. See the other fragments, or sign up for my weekly newsletter.

Yesterday’s post was about 2,000 words longer than I’d originally planned, so today’s post is just a compendium of other people’s responses to a viral tweet which claims that “minimum wage is livable if you cut out entertainment, alcohol, drug, and eating out costs”.

People who support raising the minimum wage aren’t saying that it’s not possible to survive on a minimum wage - they’re saying that it shouldn’t be required. It’s “possible” to survive despite not eating for 3 weeks, but it’s certainly not pleasant, and forcing that sort of austerity on someone simply because it might not kill them is unimaginably cruel.

The fight for higher minimum wages is not merely about the right to survive (though in some cases, even survival is under threat as wages and benefits erode while costs of living keep climbing). It’s about the right to live a life that is more than bare existence, more than being a blank cog in the circuit of capital accumulation. Workers are continually asked to lower their expectations for a better standard of living in order to maintain corporate profit margins - all while the agents of capital outdo each other with lifestyles each more lavish than the last. This distribution of resources is neither natural nor just, and it will not last.

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