Some friends and I were having an interesting conversation yesterday, in which we realized that after the announcements from Walmart and others about boosting their base wages, we're actually making the same or less than cashiers and stock boys in our skilled or semi-skilled positions. All four of us that were in this discussion have 2 or 4 year degrees and are working in our fields, so we're not the cliched "got a useless degree, working at Starbucks" set. We're just in low paying fields and so far, the pay scales aren't shifting to compete with low-skill employers. I thought the conversation was interesting because my whole life I've heard that the true cost of raising minimum wage is exponentially greater than the impact on retail/food service because EMTs and nurses aids and para-pros won't work for $10/hr if they can make $11 at Walmart... and yet here we are, a group of women talking about how we're doing just that. And it made me wonder if this is where we're going, economically, where job satisfaction now comes with an actual price tag and the opportunity to use our skills and training is something that costs, rather than benefits, workers who want to avoid the retail/food service grind. What price would you pay to have a satisfying job? Is it worth earning less than even the lowest-wage employees to have a job you enjoy or a better work-life balance? I'll admit, I was seriously annoyed yesterday when I first heard that Walmart greeters will be making just about what I make in a position that requires a four-year degree, but I still wouldn't trade my position for theirs. And maybe that's the problem, because it gives my employer absolutely no incentive to pay more than they do right now.