Amazon Raises its Minimum Wage to $15/hr

The Controversy Surrounding the Concept of Minimum Wage Goes Back Decades

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

10/2/18, 3:18 pm EDT

By John Corry, photo from Financial Post

Amidst rising criticism, Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos has announced today that his company will be raising its minimum wage to $15/hr for all workers starting November 1st. That criticism, from all sides of the political spectrum including Bernie Sanders, President Trump and a slew of activist groups, seems to have had some affect on the decision.

"We listened to our critics,” Bezos said in a statement. “We thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead."

That’s more than double its current minimum wage of $7.25/hr. Workers currently making more than $15/he will also receive a pay raise.

The concept of a minimum wage has been controversial since its inception, for obvious reasons: if an employer cannot afford to pay the lawful minimum wage, its existence is severely threatened, however: earning less than a livable wage is exactly how it sounds– not livable.

And I don’t mean simply ‘not livable’ in the sense that any person can theoretically just say ‘fuck it’, move to the woods and live smiles off the trees and the mud (that’s a spiritual argument, by the way). An argument for an inherent understanding of social status being ingrained in all humans is one held (for the most part) by a number of thinkers throughout time (Hegel, Locke, Hobbes, Fukayama, for starters). Its main content (again: in a specific argument for an inherent understanding of social status being ingrained in all humans) is that man’s desire for recognition is the reason we’ve evolved in the way in which we have. Humans used to beat each other for no more reason than to show that they could, because that invoked respect and a sense of confidence in the person’s physical abilities. A high social status is (at least theoretically) implicative of a high degree of production for the species. It’s a way of showing that one has done her part; a way for life to maintain its survival instinct through an intellectual capacity, after the (much more (easily) known) primal one..

But in recent years, the average ‘worker’ has gone through a transition (and no, it’s just because of Marx). For centuries, the majority of humans made their social status off of living off the land, selling products on the street, etc., but lately, as the population of Earth has more than doubled in the past mere 50 years, as well as due to advances in thought regarding how people think and work together on more practical bases, have made this social status come with more of a ‘taboo’. Marx deemed her the ‘proletariat’, Adam Smith divided her into ‘divisions of labor’, and modern capitalism a the very least considers producers, consumers and managerial overseers as all inherently different things (are they really? Can we not all be those things only at different times or under different circumstances??), but the thought remains clear: human beings operate together in a way much more complicated than they did even a mere hundred years ago, let alone at any time before the founding of America.

Essentially, I’m saying that economics are tough. There are a lot of moving parts– it exists as a concept totally in-time, meaning: the less time has gone by, the harder it is to ‘get’– and it inherently ignores Absolutely the other half of the process through which humans perceive the world (individually (or: emotionally, to get away from the whole ‘Individual versus Society’ (Plato’s One in the many) thing)). It strives to be completely objective, because that’s what it must be: some concept which strives to be completely objective as regards human perception could only be assumed to be come across for any consciousness to proceed through intellect: once objective/subjective time has been noticed, it must be studied, and understanding opposing Forms is only a logical first step (if any other steps are even needed).

Conversely, psychology is also tough, and there is an argument to be made that much more of a bigger deal has been made of economics (due to the fsct that economics have much more directly to do with ‘production’, and so the study of it would produce more ‘tangible’ results (at least much more immediately) than psychology in modern society. (It’s much easier to quantify facts and anecdotal evidence than it is emotion and personalized experience.)

And thus, we arrive at the conundrum of economics and psychology, and so the complexities surrounding the argument over a minimum wage. If a person is working 40 hours a week (30, if you ask me, but I’ll continue on that point in a moment), and she does her job well, she deserves to live comfortably. I don’t care if all she’s doing is cleaning shit or working at McDonald’s: those are difficult jobs. They may not require the most skill, but they certainly require a certain quality of a type of ‘zen’ acceptance and a sense of dignity based upon a simple dichotomy of the aforementioned ‘One in the many’ (working for a cause much bigger than you is obviously admirable, as has been alluded to in many stories and philosophical arguments throughout history (see: most Greek and Roman literature, Christianity, in fact the majority of points in the Abrahamic religions)). McDonald’s gets busy, cleaning shit sucks, but there will always be a stigma against jobs like this, if only because theoretically anybody can do them. However, so long as they’re jobs that need to be done, they need to be done, otherwise the job wouldn’t exist, and so the people who do them deserve to be fairly compensated. If morals don’t mean shit, economics can only be a negative (because they’d consider objectivity Absolutely, which is not how reality works (for human perception)).

Conversely, it takes a ton of perseverance and acquisition of risk to make those jobs available. Moreover, as mentioned before, if an employer can’t afford to pay its workers $15/hr, the demand to do so could easily run the company out of business. This makes this situation one where both sides are indeed in the right as regards their primary arguments, but a context which (currently) disables any compromise, at least theoretically.

And those last three words were big ones there. This would be a much less heated issue if we didn’t have the owners and the higher-ups of many of these companies paying themselves hundreds of millions of dollars a year, while their workers can’t afford to get a monthly haircut comfortably on $7.25/hr. So long as people choose to live in mansions and spend a million dollars a year on villas in Miami they spend three months in, the people who can’t afford basic accommodations will always be angry, and, as such (and this is very important here), emotional economic bastardizations like communism and Marxism of basic economic principles will always have appeal, and indeed continue to grow. If these ‘capitalists’ truly want the supposed ‘glories of capitalism’ to live on, they can’t meanwhile consistently be fortifying one of the basic understandings of not just economics, but all of life and human intellect/intellectual evolution in general: that we’re all connected (basic premise of economics (only in a productive sense, versus anything spiritual or even material)).

My opinion is: good for Jeff Bezos, but I am afraid of the rhetoric that may come out of this from the Bernie Sanders of the world. Running a small business is insanely difficult, and seems like something which Sanders doesn’t seem to understand, but actually argues against. At the same time, I have no idea what the hell Donald Trump has been bitching about when it comes to Amazon, his M.O. seems to go completely against this, but an advisor has said that he’s “in favor of higher wages”. Maybe on the DL Trump agrees with me?

No way, Trump’s a dictator, only he could be correct (Absolutely!).