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People expect to start on the top rung

As I watch protesters shouting loudly into the TV cameras demanding a $15 an hour wage to flip burgers at McDonald’s, I scratch my head and wonder, “Who are these people?”
In the past, a job at any fast-food place was considered an entry-level position, a start to one’s working career. Since when has it become “a career?”
Isn’t the American way to start at the bottom and, as experience is gained, move up the ladder? Since when did anyone expect to start at the top rung?
Or when did it become the norm to buy a house, a car or two and a boat before one has established a career? Apparently today’s young people want it all … and now!
We old-timers had to work, scrimp and save to get those “extras” of life. We did it the hard way, and many still don’t have a boat, an RV or a lake cabin.
Although not a child of the Depression, my folks were. They knew how to make a dollar stretch. They also knew not to overextend their credit, because you had to pay it back.
That rubbed off on us Baby Boomers, or at least some of us. The following generations, however, never quite got the hint that hawking your future for enjoyment today is a dead-end street.
What did that Popeye character Wimpy always say? “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” That applies to kids of today.
Which gets me back to these protesters who claim they will not stop their disruptions until they get a $15 minimum wage passed. Don’t these protesters have jobs? Maybe that is their job. Wonder if they get $15 an hour to protest?
How do you think this is going to work out if you get a $15 minimum wage? Is your life going to be instantly better?
No. In fact, it may not change one iota, or could get worse.
The additional cost for increased wages will force employers to do several things. One may be to cut staff and thus keep salaries under control, or generate more revenue by passing on the additional cost in the form of more expensive burgers and fries, or both.
Do you think your rents are going to go down because of the $15 minimum wage? Probably not. How about the price of your next TV or piece of furniture?
It will become a vicious cycle. The more it costs to make things or serve things, the more it will cost the consumer. By the way, you protesters are consumers, too.
So, as you sit out there in the cold, blocking streets and business entrances, ponder this: What are you accomplishing?
Go home and reset your priorities. Maybe you can’t have everything you want right away. What’s more important, paying the rent or getting cable TV? Eating or getting the latest video games? Paying the house payment or buying that new snowmobile?
Sure it may require tough decisions, but that’s the whole point. You can’t really appreciate what you have until you earn it. And being handed a big raise through an increased minimum wage is not exactly earning it.
Rich Glennie was the editor of The Chronicle for 23 years. He retired Aug. 1, 2014, but still plans to submit an occasional column.