It seems every time I read the news there’s always a labor shortage. The usual response by most who are disconnected is “No one wants to work.” “Everyone wants a handout.”

I would think a little empathy rather than judging low-paid workers would best fit the situation. By low-paid workers, I mean anyone making less than a livable wage. According to a study done by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which produced a living wage calculator, the livable wage for Frederick County is $19.22 per hour for one person and zero children (

The wages go up as the variables change. The minimum wage in Maryland is $11.75 per hour. If companies are offering minimum wage or even up to $15 per hour how can one support themselves? Take another job? Sure, but at what cost? Work fatigue, lack of energy, anxiety, depression, long term health costs, no social life, the list goes on.

Making $15 an hour is roughly $900 biweekly. For those making $11.75, it is roughly $705. For those of you saying low-income workers are lazy, could YOU support yourself with $705-$900 bi-weekly paychecks?

It’s highly doubtful unless you have a good support system. If you’re a company and your response is, “If we paid everyone $19 an hour, we would be out of business.” Well, maybe you shouldn’t be running a business if you can’t pay employees a livable wage.

Instead you’re relying on your employees to work for poverty wages. No one wants to work for poverty wages. It’s why most people hate their jobs and call out. It’s why customer service is horrendous. The stress of going to a job for a poverty paycheck is enormous. A huge part of the problem is the minimum wage itself. It’s barely moved in the last two decades while productivity has risen.

Best case of evidence is the stock market. The stock market is always rising, even during the pandemic when unemployment rose. The number of people and families living paycheck to paycheck has risen as well. Instead of paying employees a fair and livable wage, the 1 percent just get wealthier. Wealthier to the point some spend $5.5 billion for 4 minutes in space.

Perspective is everything and empathy is very much needed. Please think about others who are struggling before you make quick judgments on those who “don’t want to work.” Most want to work, they just want to be paid a fair and livable wage.

Greg Biggs


(44) comments


"Starting pay for the humblest burger-flipper at McDonald’s in Denmark is about $22 an hour once various pay supplements are included. The McDonald’s workers in Denmark get six weeks of paid vacation a year, life insurance, a year’s paid maternity leave and a pension plan. And like all Danes, they enjoy universal medical insurance and paid sick leave." And to top it off, you can't be forced to work back to back shifts, and you get your schedule a month ahead of time to you can plan your life.

In case you're wondering, a burger at a Danish MacDonalds cost 27 cents more than in the US.

If you want to argue capitalism vs. socialism, be my guest. Keep in mind that businesses that don't pay a living wage have the slack taken up by your tax dollars--food stamps, welfare, etc. So your taxes are subsidizing those employers who refuse to pay a fair wage. Sound fair to you? Sounds like big time socialism to me.


The writer shows a lack of understanding of economics.


I find it so strange, the same people that say “it’s your choice to be vaccinated and to wear a mask” (freedom) are so determined to make people go back to work for unsustainable wages and claim their bodies aren’t theirs (non-freedom), their reproduction systems and healthcare should be managed by the state.

Is there an opening for compromise? If, I go back to work will you keep your hands out of my pu**y 🙌? What do you think 🧐?

Yeah these are the same people who expect a teenager making minimum wage not to scratch their cars...and when said teenager making minimum wage gets pregnant they seem to think said teenager should be forced to give birth...and support themselves and a child on minimum wage. These same people would never vote for higher minimum wage(or any other social program that would help a pregnant teenager) so said teenager could actually support the choice they forced them to make. Cruelty is the point with these people....these people aren't about to keep their hands out of your uterus...


The bulk of the responders here seem to agree that to make life livable all that needs to be done is implement a minimum wage of $25/hr. or so across the board; no matter if the employee is a 17-year old high school drop out who's washing cars, or 40 year old single parent of four. Furthermore, any business of any size that can't support such a business plan should just shut up and die and take their worthless, heartless $10-15/hr. jobs with them. Sounds harsh - and foolish - to me.


Of course you'd lead with compete hyperbole to make your own conclusions. How unusual.



I mean, are you really surprised that his starting position was full speed down that slipper slope?


And full speed into a tree…..has happened many times with V so…


Personally a single parent of 4 should be sustained by the state where the birth took placed, especially if forced not to terminate. In Taliban Texas, you have little choice, as a women if you engage in intercourse and are impregnated, you are now opted to bounty hunters. Even if raped.

No. If you can’t find employees that will work for wages that aren’t sustainable and your business fails, that’s on you. Not the employees. You may not be aware, but that was abolished a century and a half ago.


A single parent of four should be sustained by themselves and those who helped create their children, not the government unless all other efforts have failed.


Yes. No one mentions the fathers in these stories and comments. Fathers should be 50% responsible for the costs of raising a child through age 18. With DNA testing, paternity can be determined and should be required.


Yikes MD1756 sounds like you lack empathy towards others and their life experiences.

I also go with the thought that you get what you pay for....who do you want to rely on to service you, someone making a living wage...or someone that is paid poverty wages ? Who do you want washing your car? Me I'll go with the person making $25.00 an hour as opposed to some high schooler making minimum wage. Then again I guess it depends on the car you drive? A high schooler making minimum wage maybe all you care about your car?


I don’t know? Will the market bare a minimum wage of $25 an hour? I don’t know.

You don’t seem to understand if you force someone to accept an unsustainable income in a free enterprise system that’s a right wing version of socialism. In a true free capitalist system there’s ‘push and pull’ that’s the nature of the beast. Businesses have the right to hiring and the applicant has the right of refusal. That used to be a conservative principle. You like to read? Right? I would suggest researching , reading Adam Smith the father of today’s economics. Specifically on ‘supply and demand’. Just sayin’.


One's goal in life should not be to have a minimum wage job as a career, with the expectation that all your needs will be taken care of. Minimum wage laws began (at the State level) over 120 years ago to help women & children in the work force, who had no other protections or options. Today, it does take a bit of effort, but there are opportunities to either learn a trade, or get an education which will lead to a career. Less than 2% of workers are at minimum wage today, and most of those are in the food industry where it's supplemented by tips.



There are more low-wage jobs than jobs with liveable wages by a lot. So I don't know where these magical, family-supporting jobs are supposed to come from.

We should probably adjust to the reality that maybe if jobs can't support the needs of a human, than they shouldn't exist and we should stop subsidizing companies who pay welfare wages.

Guy T. Ashton

I can guarantee you that few businesses go into business with the altruistic notion of bettering their employee’s lives. Nice if you can get it, but the goal is to be successful and make money rather than lose money. None of the little businesses are getting as rich as you think they are!


@Guy T. Ashton

You really do sound like someone who feels they're entitled to own a business that pays their employees welfare wages.

If we really insist on paying so little for employees, then they need a bigger/broader social safety net.

If we all decided that childcare and healthcare would be provided for (by single-payer), I pretty much guarantee that people would be willing to accept lower wages. But, you can't have it both ways. You can't expect people to kill themselves for welfare wages that can't even provide for them and their families nor help them if they get sick.


Having a family is a choice not a need for survival. If one wants a family one had better take proper steps starting beforehand to help ensure they have a successful family, meeting their children's needs (physical and emotional).


The letter isn’t about life goals but livable wages. Your comment about “ the teenager looking to pick up some spending money, the person looking to fill some time and keep busy, the college kid needing some extra cash and some work experience”, all good but then recruit from that pool and don’t complain if you can’t find good help. Good luck. 👍



The average worker at one of those low-wage jobs isn't a teenager. The reality says that the average worker is 34.

That means that who people think are working these low-wage jobs isn't jiving with reality. The reality is that the low-wage jobs are being worked by a 34 year-old single mom. The compensation should reflect that reality. If it can't then maybe that job simply should not exist.


Is that being “woke”?🤷‍♂️

Guy T. Ashton

Spoken like somebody with absolutely no experience running a truly "small" business. Not every person who works needs a "livable wage"- the teenager looking to pick up some spending money, the person looking to fill some time and keep busy, the college kid needing some extra cash and some work experience. You would run out of business many of those in the downtown. Not every business in town is a Mc Donald's or Target or WalMart, many are just making margin, but you would rather run them into the ground and out of business, that'll teach them to be greedy. Thanks for the advice, though.


[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup] Well said Mr. Ashton. Most folks do not understand that most downtown businesses are small proprietorships who may have only a few employees, and not the large corporations that they must compete against. Their margins are already razor-thin. Forcing them to pay a one-size-fits-all, so-called "livable wage" for low or no skill entry-level labor will either cause them to not hire anyone, fire some or all of their staff, or fold altogether, putting their employees...and them...out of work. This has been documented repeatedly by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. Perfect solution [/s].




Maybe those businesses should just not exist. Maybe we shouldn't guarantee companies an existence if they don't have a sustainable business model.

People seem to be all for the free market only when it exclusively serves owners and never when it works in the slightest for labor.


NMP, as I stated, most of the downtown Frederick businesses are small businesses as defined. Expenses cannot exceed revenues (unless you are the Federal government), and these small businesses, such as restaurants and sole proprietorships downtown operate on thin margins. Small business owners have three options if wages are raised above what their business can sustain; not hire, fire some or all of their workers, or go out of business altogether. Should the sole proprietorships who have a helper or two (usually school kids in part-time jobs) simply fire their staff? That is the downtown business scene: small businesses like restaurants, boutique clothing stores, specialty shops, etc. The government can enforce a minimum wage, but they cannot force a business to hire or keep staff at that wage. So, the small boutiques stay open, but the owners now man the cash registers, stock merchandise, and the staff is gone. Who loses? Check the predictions of the CBO.

Guy T. Ashton

Nobody guaranteed our business anything and I can guarantee you the bank wouldn’t loan money to a bad business plan. We survive or fail on our own merits, whether or not people want our products. It will be uneducated opinions such as yours that turn our business into a social experiment first and a business second that will be the death of us. Then none of us will have jobs. What a brilliant plan you have!



If you can't exist unless you pay people welfare wages, then maybe you shouldn't exist. Obviously your business model only works if you have labor subsidized by government. That isn't a sustainable business model. That is socialism.


@Guy T. Ashton

If your business model can't operate without your workers needing government assistance then it isn't a sustainable business model.

Business will always exist. How do I know that? It's because people always have needs. The idea that a business owner is somehow more important than labor is pretty pathetic.


@ NewMarketParent Sep 14, 2021 12:36pm

So, NMP, which of the restaurants downtown, who traditionally pay below minimum wage to their wait staff, should go out of business? They already have a high failure rate to begin with due to cash flow and expenses exceeding receipts, and the staff rely on tips for income. There are a lot of cheapskates out there. Ask any server. These are the same restaurants that people promote because it gives downtown “atmosphere and a vibe”. Which of the single proprietor boutiques and “Mom & Pop’s” should let their helpers go, or close up shop altogether. Again, these are the shops that people claim give downtown “atmosphere”. The lawyers and jewelry store will probably survive because the price of their goods and services are fairly elastic. Businesses pay what the market will bear. I am assuming that you modeled price elasticity in your mathematics training. If the customer does not find value in the additional costs, they will change their buying habits, or go elsewhere, especially with a luxury item such as dining out. Then what? It’s not as simple as many would like us to believe.



That's a really easy to answer question.

All of them.

Again, if your business model relies on the government (aka taxpayers) to subsidize your business than you are not entitled to own a business.

I am surprised that so many people think they are entitled to own a business.


Ashton, the way of doing business or economic systems aren’t stagnant. It’s most often has improved the standard of living for the average Joe.

I remember a segment out of a movie “The Passion of Christ” right at the very beginning, Jesus and and other fishermen eating at a table and sitting on benches which was new to them ‘ a benches to sit on? . Someone asked “ do you think this will catch on“.


Your point is entirely over the heads of most here. There is no right to own a business. If your business can't sustain a livable wage for people depending on an income ( not those looking for extra cash, or teenagers after school part-time jobs), then your business may not be able to exist. People can't live in poverty so that you can have a cool business to discuss. If you can't sustain a viable business, become an employee of a place that can.


Or maybe the people who don't like their job options should create their own jobs.


You are absolutely right Newmarket on everything! Also if a company can get by with paying the minimum wage, they will. Why wouldn’t they? I can tell you from experience. Just a few years ago, I had a job working with adults with special needs, took me 3 years to go from $10 to $11 an hour. To make up for the poverty wages, I had to work 80-100 A WEEK. That’s a local company willing to pay exploit poverty wages for a critical job that serves Frederick residents. Explain that. During the pandemic the same job cut my OT hrs so the paychecks were $600 biweekly. I lost over $1,000 every two weeks because I was essential. How is that fair? I asked to be laid off so I could survive on the extra unemployment gvt was offering but I was denied. So basically I am forced into poverty. Lost my car and went into debt. Poverty wages suck. So if you’ve never been there before you can’t judge.


Well, the majority of small businesses are often individual or involve very small employees. Law firms, IT businesses and others fit the defintion of small business and are among the highest paid in the nation. To make a generalization about small businesses ( folks think Mom and Pop shops ) but that definition is not accurate. There are many moving parts to consider and the service industry ( think hotels, food ) can't have it both ways - the large corporate structure makes tons while they rely on depressed pay scales for their workers. Tips don't make up for it, nor are they a reliable source of income, as anyone who worked in a service industry knows. Time to address this issue.

Guy T. Ashton

You just argued against a generalization by making your own generalization.


Agreed hay, but the customer must be willing to foot those extra costs, and there's the rub. Customers generally vote with their wallet and feet where value is considered. We are not talking about law firms, etc., because as you state, they already have high revenue streams and profits (however, due to a glut of law school graduates a few years ago, lawyers don't make proportionately what they made years ago either). Their employees are also highly skilled, hence, their pay scale.. When calls for blanket wage increases for low or no-skilled labor do not consider the price elasticity of the good or service, there is an unintended consequence. That consequence is that the low-skilled labor is replaced by automation (see McDonalds), or the business learns to do without such additional staff, forcing the remainder to increase their workload (see hotel housekeeping, or counter people). When was the last time you saw an elevator operator? Why do you think that low-tech manufacturing has essentially left the US? Because such US companies cannot compete with cheap foreign goods made by low-skilled labor. Wages that are set by market demand are affordable because the market has determined that a higher wage for a given position is needed, and the customer (who ultimately pays the bills) is willing to pay for it.


Guy, I've started and sold two small businesses, so I get your position on this, but the letter was directed at the proposition that people don't want to work. The labor market is distorted right now and the appeal of service jobs with a continued pandemic is not so high. I'm ok with labor having some more bargaining power in the US, the field has been tilted against that for over 40 years. While I hear you on margins, there's something in this discussion that clearly needs a reset.



Exactly. The market has been heavily tilted in favor of business owners for far too long. That's the reason that people like Bezos exist. That would never happen if they weren't squeezing money out of labor.




Exactly Mr. Ashton. Mr. Biggs has zero clue about running a business. Arm chair Quarterback!


You are right. I don’t own a business but I understand everyone deserves to be paid a livable wage. Part of the problem is the minimum wage is way behind the output of productivity. If it kept up with productivity minimum wage would be around $24 an hr. I’m not suggesting a full jump to $19-24 an hr. That’s simply not possible but I think a 10 year $1 per year would be more in line with the output of productivity


Amen Mr. Biggs.

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