Wealth inequality in the United States has gotten out of control. Many are fighting for a higher minimum wage, which is a great start in the attempt to lower poverty rates. Those who are critical of raising minimum wage ask how we can afford to raise it without raising the cost of living, and the answer is creating a maximum wage.
Minimum wage is extremely low compared to the cost of living because workers are exploited. For example, the average CEO in 2015 earned 204 times what the average worker did. In the most extreme case, at Discovery Comm., the CEO made 1,951 times what the average worker did. The federal minimum wage is $7.25, so if the average worker makes slightly more at $10 an hour, the CEO would make $2,040 an hour.
Additionally, if the average worker makes $10 dollars an hour, that means they would make $400 a week. It would take a minimum wage worker slightly over five weeks to earn the amount of money the CEO earned in an hour. According to Glassdoor, the average CEO is paid $13.8 million per year, and the average median worker pay is around $77,800. There is absolutely no reason why wages should be so uneven between the top and bottom of the company food chain.
Therefore, a maximum wage must be enacted. In the U.S., minimum wage was first enacted in 1938 by the Fair Labor Standards Act, which set the minimum amount of money employees could be paid per hour and established regulations for overtime and child labor.
In theory, the minimum wage is the bare minimum amount of money an employee can live off of. This would include housing and necessities like electricity, water, groceries, healthcare and transportation. Opponents of raising minimum wage will argue that raising the wage will only raise the cost of living and therefore cause more harm than help. However, if we enact maximum wage, the cost of living will not go up.
The top-paid employee for a company, usually a CEO, should not be allowed to be paid more than 10 times what their lowest-paid employee, such as a cashier, makes per hour. This would prevent the greedy from accumulating wealth while the working class struggles.
Another counterpoint that many may bring up is that low salaries provide motivation to go to college or work harder. The point of college is to learn more to open up new opportunities that wouldn’t exist otherwise, which is great. However, you can still seek better opportunities, even if minimum wage is raised. Furthermore, college should not exist as a way to gatekeep the lower class and working class. Rather, it should be an option for those who want it.
Additionally, workers tend to do better work when they receive better pay and benefits. If you’re working as a cashier or a sales associate for low wage and no benefits, and you must deal with all kinds of unpleasant people and stressful situations, you’ll likely feel defeated. Raising pay and providing better benefits makes all of the difficulties feel more worth it.
Truly, there is nothing to be lost by creating a maximum wage to help close the ever-growing wealth gap. Maximum wages will help to create a more just, fair society with less poverty.