Minimum wage increases will help families trying to make ends meet

My pay: $5.15 per hour. My annual salary: $10,712. Federal poverty threshold for a family of three: 28 percent more than my salary. Problem? I think so.

There is no reason why I should be suffering and barely making ends meet when the cost of living in this country is so high. The Florida minimum wage must be raised immediately before our population becomes famished and decimated.

While the majority of Florida voters are worrying about whom to vote for president in the Nov. 2 election, many others have their focus on a completely different issue. This issue is whether to raise the state’s minimum wage.

The current wage is $5.15, with tipped workers receiving $2.13 per hour. If the bill passes, the minimum wage will go to $6.15 and $3.13, respectively.

Voters must opt for this issue because Floridians have been working for entirely too long under less than par conditions.

There is no explanation for the excessive number of people being evicted from their homes and missing meals because there is no money for food.

A raise in the minimum wage will provide more opportunities for families to live a normal lifestyle. They won’t have to worry as much about whether there will be a next meal. They won’t have to worry about struggling to send their children to college because there will be more income to choose from.

Thirteen states already have minimum wages higher than the federal minimum of $5.15. In fact, Washington State has a minimum wage of $7.16, followed by Alaska at $7.15 and Connecticut at $7.10.

If they can have a solid economy with such a high wage rate, then so can Florida. Their businesses did not go out of business because of the increased employee wages. Their companies did not have to raise the prices of their merchandise an exorbitant amount because of the higher wages.

In fact, the elevation in wages probably helped increase the sales volume and employee morale and commitment.

With higher pay, employees will actually want to come to work and will have better attendance so they can make sure they get their money. With higher pay, citizens will have more money to spend and, thus, higher sales.

However, companies don’t seem to realize the myriad of benefits that could come from this action. They believe they will go bankrupt because all employees will ask for a pay raise. Gov. Bush believes this pay hike will deter new companies from establishing locations in Florida.

These facts couldn’t be further from the truth.

All employees will not request a raise because they know their salaries are not within the range of the $1 increase. And even if they did, the owners have discretion whether to acquiesce.

They can very well say no and then the employees can live with the decision or leave.

If they leave, the companies are better off because that’s one less salary to pay.

If they stay, then the increase was something the owner offered, so clearly it would be a logical amount.

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 introduced the first minimum wage at $.25 per hour.

According to the Economic Analysis of Florida Minimum Wage Proposal by the Center for American Progress Political Economy Research Institute, the wage reached its peak in 1968 at $8.49 and would now be $6 if it had kept pace with the 16.6 percent growth of the Consumer Price Index.

Oh, but it’s not. Instead it’s $5.15 and has not changed in seven years.

I will concede there are risks involved with this decision. The economy can shift and corporations might go out of business because of these excess costs. But elephants can also begin to talk tomorrow.

So what are you going to do, live your life in fear of what could be?

The 2004 election is dependent on this matter because the two main presidential candidates are divided on this issue. Sen. John Kerry supports the issue, while Bush has not taken a side on it, which in essence means he is against it and is just trying to buy himself more time.

In 2000, President Bush won Florida by 537 votes. This year those 537 votes could very well come from low-income workers wanting a raise.

I hate walking down the street and seeing people living out of shopping carts and wearing the same tattered clothes for days. Perhaps this wage hike will give more money to the community and get some of these people off the streets.

Because of the gravity of this issue and the importance of voting in the affirmative for it, I must quote P. Diddy and say “Vote or die.”

Dominique Drake, 20, is a third year Professional MBA student from Cleveland. She can be reached at