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OUR VIEW — Fast food workers miss the mark

 

MICHAEL GEBELEIN

MANAGING EDITOR

 

 

Protests and demonstrations across the country have been making headlines for the past week. Thousands gathered in our nation’s capital to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, Lincolnton hosted its own offshoot of the “Moral Monday” protests led by the N.C. NAACP and its president, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II and fast food workers staged a walkout to demand higher wages.

All of those causes should be respected, and any time a group of citizens peaceably assembles to voice their dissatisfaction with their government, friends of the Constitution should be smiling, no matter what side of the issues they fall on.

But the fast food worker strike was laughable at best, and insulting at worst.

News photos showed strikers carrying placards with some variety of the phrase “Fight for 15″ — denoting workers’ demands for an increase in wages to $15 per hour.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, or just over $15,000 per year. That’s just over $300 higher than the federally defined poverty guideline of $11,490 for a one-person household. The federal minimum wage could certainly use some tweaking (the last time it was adjusted was in 2009), but what the fast food strikers are asking for is more than exorbitant.

A wage of $15 per hour works out to $31,200 per year, before taxes. For perspective — the vast majority of patrol deputies in the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office are paid at an hourly rate of less than $15 per hour.

Furthermore, if the workers’ demands are met, many of them would soon find themselves without a job. Businesses have felt the sting of our country’s sluggish economic recovery after the Great Recession just as workers have. If they were suddenly forced to raise wages so drastically, they would have no choice but to lay off many of their employees and replace their job functions with automated systems.

But there could be an upside to raising fast food workers’ wages to $15 per hour. Prices would quickly skyrocket and a McDonald’s hamburger would probably cost somewhere in the area of $15.

The obesity epidemic in this country would instantly be cured.

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