College students are tired and broke, almost universally. So is a large chunk of the country. The trouble is, solving one makes the other worse.

I work in retail back home. I get to set my own availability and hours. Over the summer, I picked up maybe 30 hours a week to have a little spending money.

I lived at home, so there was not much pressure.

This break, I was presented with a choice between making enough money to pay rent or not working 60 hours over six days. Many other students had to make a similar choice with their week off.

I am not trying to complain. Maybe a little, but complaining is fun. The point is that no one should have to make that choice.

This situation highlights a problem half of the United States is facing. Income inequality in America today is worse than during the French Revolution.

The federal minimum wage has not increased since 2009. Illinois is doing a little, not much, better at $11 an hour over the federal minimum of $7.25.

People working minimum wage jobs are slowly being killed by rising prices and stagnant wages.

My situation in comparison to people living in poverty is laughable, and I understand the privilege I am using to speak about this topic.

I had to choose between working for a week or relaxing for a week. Many people have to choose between working themselves to death or going homeless.

Raising the minimum wage is the least that can be done. I only went through one week of real bills and real hours, and I never want to have to do it again.

The “Fight for $15," or any other variation of trying to raise minimum wage, has never been very popular.

I believe a big reason for that is that a large portion of America never felt that pressure to work to survive for even a second. The typical response to asking for better pay is simply: “work harder.”

The answer to people working full time and still living in poverty is not a question of dedication or sacrifice. Anyone who has struggled to pay rent knows that.

Any full-time job in America should be able to keep someone fed, housed and out of poverty. Anything short of that would be a platitude.

SEAN MORRISON is a News and Features Reporter for The Vidette. He can be contacted at sgmorr1@ilstu.edu. Follow Morrison on Twitter at @ seanmorr122  


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