Insulting Minimum Wage Workers Needs to Be Stopped

October 25th 2015

Mike Vainisi

The minimum wage will no doubt be a huge issue once again during next year's election. On Friday, Ohio's attorney general certified a petition that would give Ohio voters a chance to boost their state's minimum wage to $12 an hour, and other states will have similar questions on their ballots in 2016.

RELATED: People Are Outraged About This Receipt for the Wrong Reason

With this issue back in the national conversation, we'll soon see anti-minimum wage memes on social media. Here are three you'll probably see over the next year, and here's why they are wrong.

1. 'Get an education'

This meme implies that McDonald's workers — and low wage workers in general — are not pursuing higher education.

But the truth is that many workers are trying to get an education while also working low-wage jobs. But low pay makes it difficult to afford college or vocational training, and workers often try to support themselves with minimum wage jobs.

These workers also face the problem of inconsistent, unpredictable work hours that make it almost impossible to schedule classes. This means that workers often can only take a few credit hours at once, extending the length of time it takes to get their degree.

We spoke to a Burger King employee in this situation. Samuel Homer Williams, who lives in Los Angeles, has postponed his college education multiple times due to the challenge of balancing work and school.

RELATED: I Work at Burger King and Can't Afford Community College. Now What?

"I've been back in and out of Southwest College three times now and I kind of need that stability to stay in school," Williams told ATTN: earlier this year.

In this video, Williams talks more about his situation:

Why Working At Burger King Is Still Not Enough to Afford College

Meet Homer. He works at Burger King. He wants to #FightFor15 so he can afford community college, which his currently salary does not allow.

Posted by ATTN: on Wednesday, April 15, 2015

2. 'You're not a paramedic'

Minimum Wage Paramedic Meme

This meme makes a common argument that we've seen many times in comments on ATTN:'s Facebook page. The implication is that fast food workers don't deserve to make as much money as some other low-wage workers, such as paramedics.

But this argument fails on two points.

For one, the fight for higher wages is not a zero-sum game. Those pushing for fast food workers to make $15 an hour also believe that all workers deserve a raise. The problem is not that fast food workers are making too much — the problem is that all American workers are experiencing wage stagnation. We should not be seeking to pit one worker against another, but instead work toward helping all low-wage workers. Studs Terkel, the legendary cultural and political commentator who died in 2008, articulated this well: "We always compete against the other guy rather than saying 'who are these big guys, this CEO, who is getting 20 million bucks for knocking off 50,000 people?" Terkel once said.

And, additionally, shouldn't all full-time workers be afforded a living wage — no matter what they do? Jens Rushing, a paramedic in Texas, thinks so. Rushing's response to the argument above went viral in August.

"Look, if any job is going to take up someone's life, it deserves a living wage," Rushing said in a Facebook post. "If a job exists and you have to hire someone to do it, they deserve a living wage. End of story."

Related: This Paramedic's Response to Complaints About Overpaid "Burger Flippers" is Amazing

3. 'Raising the minimum wage kills jobs'

Anti-minimum wage cartoon

This comic illustrates one of the most common arguments against the minimum wage: it's a job killer.

The logic is that a mandatory increase in pay for workers will force employers across the country to tighten their belts and fire some employees to make up for the cost of higher wages.

While a national increase would surely cost some individual jobs, many studies have said that reasonable increases will not damage U.S. employment and will instead be a net positive:

A review of 64 studies on minimum wage increases found no discernable effect on employment. Additionally, more than 600 economists, seven of them Nobel Prize winners in economics, have signed onto a letter in support of raising the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2016. -- Department of Labor

A similar survey of economists by the University of Chicago reached the same conclusion.

In fact, a study from the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that of the 13 states that raised their minimum wage at the beginning of 2014, all but one saw employment gains, not losses.

For more about the importance of raising the minimum wage, check out this video from ATTN: