The topic of minimum wage is one that draws much attention from political and news media perspectives. Because of the coverage this topic receives, the scope of influence is extremely broad, and everyone seems to have an opinion concerning whether the minimum wage should be raised or remain the same. Two op-ed articles that express their stance on the subject are “Even at $15 an Hour, Need is Close By,” by Ginia Bellafante, and “Sorry, Paul Krugman: The Minimum Wage Won’t Miraculously Cure Poverty,” by Diana Furtchgott-Roth. The articles present opposing views on whether raising the minimum wage is an effective method in reducing poverty and unemployment. While Bellafante encourages not necessarily raising the minimum wage, but making it a living wage, Furchtgott-Roth believes that increasing the minimum wage would hurt people and raise unemployment. Both authors are trying to reach powerful officials that have the authority to influence legislature, so using logical reasoning and providing evidence is crucial to persuading such intellectual beings. However, Bellafante’s argument is more effective because of her method of interlacing logic and emotion to more deeply impact the reader and influence their attitude concerning minimum wage.
Credibility is a quality that neither of these authors lack. The manner in which they compose their articles and portray their stances on the subject of minimum wage elicits the trust of the readers and, in turn, provides the audience with credible information that they can rely on to form their opinions. By providing secondary resources to back up their claims, the authors prove to the readers the credibility of what they have to say and provide them with comfort that they can trust the information provided to them. Even though both authors use studies and real-life examples, the article by Furchtgott-Roth provides situated ethos as well as constructed ethos to add to the integrity of the piece. A footnote at the end of her article states, “Diana Furchtgott-Roth, former chief economist of the U.S. Department of Labor, is director of Economics21 and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research (Furchtgott-Roth n.p.).” This establishes her position as a reliable source of information regarding economic issues such as the minimum wage since she is a high-ranking economist. Due to this explicit mentioning of her position, readers are more likely to be swayed by her argument even though it may not be the most credible in other aspects. Because of her position, however, Furchtgott-Roth is able to construct a more effective ethos than Bellafante.
While both authors utilize strong logos appeals to support their standpoints on minimum wage, Bellafante is, however, more effective in using reasoning and numerical logistics in supporting her claims. She begins her argument for a comfortable living wage by mentioning that “40 hour work week, a family of three (a single parent with two children, for example) would, at that rate, earn an annual salary of $31,200 which is approximately $10,000 more than the amount at which the government officially designates a family of that size as poor (Bellafante n.p.).” By pointing out the thin line separating such a family from being poor, Bellafante influences the reader to draw conclusions about whether the minimum wage is a comfortable living wage and relate their own spending habits with that of such a low annual income, causing them to draw personal conclusions. Bellafante also mentions that the government metric that determines the poverty line is severely outdated and does not account for modern-day spending habits and inflation, thus deeming it as an unreliable measure of whether a family is considered impoverished and in need of government assistance. Furchtgott-Roth also does a fair job of using logic and reasoning to convince the reader of her opinion of minimum wage. However, she is not as effective as Bellafante in using the logos appeal to her advantage. Her approach to the topic was to disprove Alan Krueger and his article and provide her evidence to why his reasoning is incorrect and support her own opinions on why raising the minimum wage would do more harm than good.
Bellafante also appeals to pathos more effectively than Furchtgott-Roth by using a real-life example of someone that is affected by the minimum wage. The story of Joceline Rodriquez, a single mom of two who works a job that pays just under $15 an hour, is relayed to the audience to prove that even if the minimum wage is raised to $15 an hour, it does not eliminate the need for government assistance (Bellafante n.p.). She mentions the fact that she has only been on one vacation with her kids and that she barely makes it by on her salary, only affording necessities such as rent and food. She is not able to afford insurance through her employer, so she is forced to enlist in the government-funded insurance program to keep her children healthy. This story of an average woman trying to provide a decent life for her family is an emotional appeal to the reader and tugs at their heartstrings. It causes them to ponder about their own family and sympathize with Ms. Rodriguez, thus relating her with the minimum wage issue and putting the desire in them to enact change.
Bellafante combines her appeals to the logical side of her readers as well as the emotional side by the reasoning behind her argument and purpose of mentioning Rodriguez in her article. Because of Rodriguez’s recent promotion, she is not eligible for food stamps anymore, thus putting additional economic strain on her family (Bellafante n.p.). So even though she is earning almost $15 an hour, she continues to struggle to make ends meet and provide a comfortable life for her two kids. This example of a real-life struggle proves Bellafante’s point that a higher minimum wage is not enough to dissipate the need for government aid, and if it is raised, it would only cause more harm to those who would still require such assistance like Ms. Rodriguez.