A Living Wage: In Denmark, They Have It Their Way

Living Wages, Rarity for U.S. Fast-Food Workers, Served Up in Denmark

By Liz Alderman and Steven Greenhouse/ New York Times/ October 27, 2014

That is because he earns the equivalent of $20 an hour — the base wage for fast-food workers throughout Denmark and two and a half times what many fast-food workers earn in the United States.

“You can make a decent living here working in fast food,” said Mr. Elofsson, 24. “You don’t have to struggle to get by.”

With an eye to workers like Mr. Elofsson, some American labor activists and liberal scholars are posing a provocative question: If Danish chains can pay $20 an hour, why can’t those in the United States pay the $15 an hour that many fast-food workers have been clamoring for?

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10 Responses to A Living Wage: In Denmark, They Have It Their Way

  1. “Arlen Grossman, I have no problem if a rich person got that way from investments in some cases. Having said that, I prefer personally the idea of getting rich due to hard work.”
    Jeffrey, we all like the idea of getting rich due to hard work. I guess where we differ is just how rich.
    When some have billions and many others have little or nothing, then there is something wrong. I understand you feel differently, and that is why we will probably never agree. But mankind alway has and always will always have those philosophic and political differences. That’s just the way it is.

  2. Conceptually, a living wage has an appeal. The problem is that it is purely an artificial construct.

    • Artificial or not, it makes a real difference in real people’s lives.

      • Arlen Grossman, what is better for a poor person-artificially increasing their take-home pay through the minimum wage increase or paying them based on how diligent they are? If the former, what is the rationale for it? If the latter, would this not be an incentive to work harder?

        • And what’s better: for rich people to get extra tax breaks and subsidies and get richer,
          or for them to get less breaks and have to work harder to stay rich? I’d be curious what you would say.

          • Arlen Grossman, I have no problem if a rich person got that way from investments in some cases. Having said that, I prefer personally the idea of getting rich due to hard work.

  3. Good comment. I agree. Americans forget that when unions were strong, the middle class was thriving. As unions have disappeared, so has the middle class.

    • Arlen Grossman, what if someone got rich by building an enterprise that employed half of the city, depending on its size, in which the owner resided in? If more jobs and bigger paychecks were the end result, how would that be a bad thing?

      • Not necessarily a bad thing, Jeffrey. . It all depends if the rich guy is paying decent wages and benefits.
        Back to you: suppose it were the government doing the same. Is that a bad thing?

  4. RAY TILTON says:

    Every generation of Robber Barons in this country since the end of the Civil War has made it their holy mission to make war against trade unions.

    No Prisoners has always been their policy with regard to trade unions. That is why in the USA for every ten thousand people you can find who hate trade unions, only three or four people out of the ten thousand have ever had any direct contact with unions. The Robber Barons have conducted most of their war in the arena of propaganda and they won that war at least fifty years ago.

    Anybody who tells you different is simply under the influence of that propaganda. The per capita participation in trade unions in Denmark and several other European countries where people earn a living wage and there is not the need for state welfare that there is here in the USA is vastly greater than the per capita participation in unions in the USA —- not by a few numbers but by several factors.

    Thanks Arlen for sending this.


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