The Living Wage Argument – Kassandra Mallia
Growing up, I was always taught that if I put my mind to it, worked hard and didn’t get distracted, I would have a beautiful and happy life. My parents were a living example of this mentality, as was the majority of my family. Those I’ve heard of who weren’t so well off would be seen as having somehow failed, that they didn’t put their minds to it, that they didn’t work hard or got distracted. It seemed very intuitive and almost logical to think that way. That was until I joined the job market and had first hand experience.
Working close to minimum wage myself for over two years, I quickly discovered that all the hard work I put into my studies and the hard work I put into my job was only enough because I counted on the stability of my family. While in this position, I was immediately made aware of the situation of other people who were earning the same salary but not so fortunate. In reality, there is an invisible majority of these “unlucky ones” that the systems we have in place ignore. People who earn just above minimum wage are not able to build meaningful futures like they once did. Today, it barely offers the possibility of existing. Even when I managed to break up and get myself a job that paid twice minimum wage, I was still unable to get a loan large enough to pay for a house, live off rent, and pay utilities alone. by co-praising and neglecting my physical and mental health.
There is no other solution: if you have a job that pays around minimum wage, your hope of building a future depends on the charity of friends, family and underfunded NGOs or opportunities made possible by nepotism, cronyism or sheer luck. Relying on charity means we get inspirational stories of the success of abandoned garages, then let the statistical majority be left behind.
Everyone should be able to live a free life– Kassandra Mallia
While we have many schemes and benefits to protect low-income people, there is also a need to deal with our government’s ever tiring bureaucracy and the stigma and shame of using these benefits. Not to mention that any attempt made to rise may risk being immediately disconnected from all of these benefits at once and making it all the more likely to fall back. The disconnect here is people shaming low-wage jobs and pretending that the people doing those jobs deserve the pay they get, but forgetting that someone has to do those low-wage jobs.
The argument for a living wage is simple. Everyone should be able to live a free life, and a statewide mandatory living wage that can let you live can let you choose what you want to do in life, whatever job you exercise. What makes a cashier or a call agent less deserving than a software developer or a lawyer of a free life? As things stand, we need people to fill those jobs, and those people should be able to live a life outside of their jobs.
The solution to paying it should come from the expectations we place on private companies that abuse our low minimum wage. We should expect those who rule us for most of the day to pay us enough so that we can enjoy what’s left after us and not have to run to another job to compensate for the greed of those businesses.
Kassandra Mallia, Vice President and Candidate, Volt Malta
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