The current minimum wage is thought to be too low for someone to meet their basic needs. However, it’s also thought that increasing minimum wage will cause businesses to hire fewer people and invest more in automation. What if I were to tell you there is a way to pay a living wage without touching the minimum wage?
Incoming inequality is a big issue in the U.S. and much of the rest of the world. The income gap between the top 1% – 0.1% and the bottom 99% is increasing. In the U.S., many people argue that increasing the minimum wage will help reduce this gap and make it so people can earn what’s called a living wage – enough money to meet basic needs.
Others argue that while, yes, the gap between the top 1% and the bottom 99% is growing, everyone is getting wealthier. Besides, increasing the minimum wage causes job loss primarily among the poorest people and increases the rate of automation for low-skill jobs. This, the argument goes, is because businesses can’t afford to pay the higher wages.
So, how do we pay a living wage without touching the minimum wage? Easy: we redefine what it means to be alive.
Scientists currently don’t have a good definition for what life actually is. They use a few characteristics that something must have in order to be considered alive.
But in the theory of abiogenesis, at what point did non-living molecules become living molecules? Are viruses alive? What if we find aliens that are clearly living things, but do not adhere to one or more of these characteristics? What about so-called ‘artificial organisms’ and ‘living machines’?
If a definition of life can’t be agreed upon, then the definition of life can be changed. Therefore, to give everyone a living wage without increasing the minimum wage, we can just redefine what life is: in addition to the other attributes scientists say are necessary to consider something alive, a new requirement for life could be making $80,000 a year. Boom, people making minimum wage are not considered alive and therefore no longer need a living wage. I suggest we trade the $80,000 a year income requirement for the “respond to environment” requirement so I can continue being a lazy bum and not be told that I’m not living life to the fullest. Up yours, society! As long as I’m making eighty grand a year, I can do nothing all day, every day, and still be living life!
Oh wait, I have to respond to my environment if I want to make money? Forget I said anything.