In 1970, when I was 15 years old, I got my first job, as a dishwasher in a Walgreen’s grill. The job paid the restaurant minimum wage* at the time of $1.45 an hour. Like most people, I didn’t start at the top of the ladder of opportunity; I started close to—if not at—the bottom.
The job, and my performance, taught me and my employers a lot. It taught me the importance of having a good attitude, working hard, showing up on time, striving for efficiency, getting along with co-workers, and positively contributing to an organization. It taught me all work has value and helped incentivize me to obtain enough education to pursue opportunities I preferred.
Within my first year of working that minimum wage job, I was promoted three times. That job, and every job thereafter, helped me obtain better opportunities with better pay and benefits.
My experience isn’t unique. In fact, it’s generally how the world works. And that’s why I don’t think it’s a good idea to mandate a dramatically higher federal minimum wage.