Minimum Wage

I sent this to the Charleston Daily Mail today.

Caroline Baum wrote a Daily Mail editorial titled “Why not a $50 minimum wage?” She asks that question in reaction to people who work for $2.13 an hour minimum wage wanting a raise to $15 an hour. You read that right, those desperate people who have to work for tips start at minimum wage of $2.13 an hour. If they get no tips their daily income is $17.04 for an eight hour day.

I know a young mother waitress who sometimes gets only five hours of work a day. Without tips her five hour day brings her $10.65. A living wage depends on the extreme generosity of her customers.

The young mother has made as low as $30 (minimum wage plus tips) for a five hour day. Her modest two bedroom apartment in a safe neighborhood goes for $525 a month plus the electric utility. Her monthly income is almost gone after the rent and utility are paid. One year she made only $7200. The Economic Policy Institute says a single-parent with one-child should make about $30,000 to meet basic needs.

Caroline Baum doesn’t mention the shamefully low $2.13 an hour minimum wage for food servers and others receiving tips. Maybe she thinks they ought to work for nothing. Does she think the minimum wage should be raised at all?

She seems to think it alright if MacDonalds asks its employees “to do a bit more” in response to an increase in minimum wage. Sounds like the old speed up the conveyor belt to increase production.

With one hand congress renders single mothers into a state of poverty. With the other hand, they make up for it by paying for day care expenses, child health care, food stamps, an earned income credit and housing subsidies. However there are no day-care facilities open in the evenings when some single mother waitresses are at work.

The owners of restaurants get slave-wage labor, and in the case of the waitress I know, give no health coverage or retirement benefits. Tax-payers end up with the bill. What we have here is a government subsidy for restaurants. The government bails the restaurants out every payday and consequently provides cheap dining for the public and a profit for the owners.

So how do you vote? Should we have socialized restaurants with food servers getting more from the government than they get from their employers? Or do we resort to another socialist idea of forcing the restaurants to pay a living wage with benefits?

What would restaurants pay if there were no minimum wage?

About Sam's Branch

I joined the Peace Corps in 1961 as West Virginia’s first volunteer. Go to to order my book Imagonna: Peace Corps Memories. I am the eighth generation of my family born in the Big Coal River Valley of West Virginia. My father and grandfather were underground coal miners. I have a chemical engineering degree from West Virginia University (WVU). After training to make sidewinder missiles, I joined the Peace Corps and taught chemistry and coached the track team at a secondary school in Nigeria. Since that time, I was WVU’s first full time foreign student advisor and worked in urban outreach, organic farming, construction labor, and high school teaching. I recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (, and recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Kanawha State Forest Foundation ( I am still on the board of the Labor History Association and the West Virginia Environmental Education Association and recently joined the board of the West Virginia Civil Liberties Union. I am active in the campaign to stop the destructive practice of mountain top removal strip mining in the Appalachian Mountains. You may contact me at or my blog samsbranch.wordpress.
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