Minimum Wage – a Primer for Liberals

There is a fabulous ruse being perpetrated by the left on unassuming Americans everywhere. It’s the idea that great big companies destroy their employees by not paying them enough for the work that they do. Leftists have been decrying this imagined malady here in America for years. The argument seems to be that minimum wage earners in jobs like fast food service, retail salesman, street sign holder, etc., deserve to be paid at a much higher rate because the people they work for are making so much more money.

The ever so thoughtful Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” voiced her support of these poor, slave driven masses that toil away under such horrid conditions.

And we’re going to Detroit on August 29th. And there happens to be a protest that day. So we’ll be going. I’m going. Congressman Keith Ellison told me about it.  I’m going to go and cover it and be in it.” In response, the show’s other host, Joe Scarborough, began to try to enlighten her on the basics of economics. This is basic — this is basic Econ 101.” However, the eminently thoughtful Brzezinski simply waved him a way with a flourish. Yeah. OK, fine.  Econ 101. Yeah. Treat people badly, pay them terribly and be proud of your profits. Econ 101.”

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It has been my experience that this is the default setting of the liberal mind. When I present factual evidence from one of the myriad of studies done that show raising minimum wage depresses hiring and overall economic well-being, the usual retort is some heartfelt emotional claptrap. “Oh, it’s not fair. They have families to provide for. Life is so hard. They can’t eat or pay the rent.” These are all terrible arguments that make an impression on us because we do sympathize for the less fortunate. However, it makes no sense to pass laws that we know will hurt the poor because simply because it looks like we’re helping!

The reason minimum wage floor laws don’t work is a simple matter of common sense. Here are just a couple of drawbacks (and there are many more):

If we pay unskilled workers more for doing “easy” work, what will that do to the skilled labor job market? Will I work as hard to earn a skill when I can make similar money faster doing a minimum wage job? I don’t think so. It’s one of the many reasons we see so many veteran Doctors retiring before the implementation of Obamacare, because the cost/benefit is unbalanced.

minwageterrorIf we raise the minimum wage, will workers earn more? Some may, but the vast majority will not. When wages rise artificially without a commensurate rise in profit, employers are forced to cut hours, workers, and new hires. In essence, jobs that may have existed will be snuffed out because the employer will not have the budget room to hire new workers while keeping the older workers on. Or they’ll simply cut hours to continue meeting their profit goals — workers who once worked 25 hours will now be cut back to 15, or some may simply lose their jobs so that others can maintain their work schedules.

The last consideration I want to mention is prices. When costs of doing business rise, so do prices. Who shops at places where minimum wage earners work? The poor and middle class. Raise minimum wage and the prices in these stores (McDonalds, K-Mart, Sears, etc.) will also rise, making it more difficult for poor families to purchase the things that they need.

We all want to end poverty. We all want to live in a world where no one goes hungry, where no one lacks clothes, where no one goes without a safe place to sleep. Minimum wage hikes are not the answer. There are too many unintended bad consequences that come along with an artificial rise in pay like the minimum wage increase. We must allow the market to regulate itself when it comes to pay, prices, and quantity – otherwise we risk doing more harm than good to our economy.

And when we harm the economy it’s bad for everyone… especially the poor.


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