If you are opposed to welfare, you should be in favor of increasing the minimum wage to a real living wage — and not just a buck or two. This not only improves the lives of low wage workers and their families, but it lowers taxes and places the burden on businesses that benefit from their employees’ labor.
I read an article by Elias Barbarian / The Political Grow entitled, The Disturbing History of the Minimum Wage. It seems that some people still believe it is a good idea to pay full-time workers at poverty levels.
Minimum Wage – The Usual Arguments
The article makes the same arguments we have heard for years such as making a pittance is better than not having a job.
The kid earning 5$ [sic] an hour is not a great situation — but it definitely beats earning nothing.
Paying the lowest earners more will mean fewer jobs for the most vulnerable.
And in this case, these trade-offs are burdened on the people in society who can least afford it, who will lose their jobs altogether since their services at a particular point in time are simply not productive enough to warrant higher payments.
And how minimum wage jobs are only for uneducated and unskilled workers.
So if a 16-year-old High school [sic] dropout wants to start working in my store, say packing shelves, and he is willing to do so for 5$ an hour and that is what I can pay him, what is the problem?
The Moral Implications of a Living Minimum Wage
Beyond the moral implications of exploiting labor “because you can”, not paying a living wage is bad for the nation. We will delve into this further, but those working for a minimum wage will still need the basics like a place to live, food, transportation and healthcare. Just because they don’t earn enough to afford the basics, it doesn’t mean they stop needing it.
The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, less than the cost of one hamburger in many US metropolitan areas. Many businesses want the ability to pay people even less.
In Arizona, voters approved raising minimum wage to $10.50 an hour in 2017. The matter found its way to the courts. This scenario plays out across the nation. The takeaway is that employers are fundamentally opposed to paying workers enough money to live even when forced to do so by law. Therefore, we cannot trust business to ever do what is right by their workers.
If We Are Just Talking Kids and the Unskilled, Then a Living Wage Shouldn’t Be a Problem
Opponents believe that the only people earning minimum wage are high school students working part time, and those just entering the workforce.
We have heard the arguments for years. Teenagers don’t need a lot of money. Unskilled workers don’t deserve it until they have some experience.
Opponents are shooting themselves in the foot.
If true, then raising the minimum wage to a living one would not be a burden for business. This would mean the jobs being performed are not crucial to the success of the company.
Employers could simply choose not to fill those jobs. Further, since it is just high school kids and drop outs, there would be so few workers affected it should have little impact on industry. Right?
The Truth About Who Earns Minimum Wage
If true, business should support a living wage for all full time workers or for anyone in continuous employ for 90 days with a company. After all, that would eliminate after school jobs and the inexperienced workers.
But the truth is they are opposed to any increase because this would affect millions of workers. Many low-wage recipients are performing jobs critical to the success of the corporation. And we all know it.
About 3 million workers earn the federal minimum wage or less. Of these, 35% were working full time, and half are over 25 years old. So we know it is not after school jobs or those new to the workforce. It seems many people are trying to survive on a minimum wage.
Free Market Solutions Except When it Impacts Business
Opponents to a living wage love to talk about “free market solutions” to regulate things like wages and healthcare, but they seem to lose trust in the market dynamic when it is applied to business.
If a company cannot survive by paying workers a decent wage, then the business or industry should fail. Why should government prop up businesses that cannot succeed? Allowing noncompetitive businesses to fold is a free market solution. If the company can’t turn a profit without exploiting workers, then the business model is flawed. It should be rejected in favor of one that will work.
If paying a decent wage means some jobs are lost, then that is simply competition being applied to the job market. Those who support a “free market” should embrace this self regulating solution to jobs.
After all, many families lived a middle class lifestyle on one salary for decades because low-paying jobs were rare.
By allowing failing business models to continue, or unsustainable jobs to proliferate, aren’t we perpetuating the problem and not allowing the “free market” to work its magic?
Haven’t we heard that argument for years?
Taxpayers Subsidize Businesses That Don’t Pay
Opponents seem to miss is that workers don’t stop needing things like food, shelter, transportation and healthcare simply because they have a low-paying job. Not only do those needs not go away, but many times they are amplified.
So the question I ask is why should taxpayers subsidize corporations who refuse to pay their employees a living wage?
When people get sick and don’t have health insurance, the rest of us see higher healthcare costs. When individuals work full time at minimum wage, they qualify for SNAP benefits (formerly known as food stamps) — another taxpayer expense.
In short, why should any full-time worker with steady employment have to rely on assistance programs? Why should the public be expected to pay for it and not the employer?
The Simple Living Minimum Wage Solution
The solution is simple.
Set the minimum wage so that any full-time worker would no longer be eligible for public assistance. Anyone working 40 hours a week would be able to afford a bare bones existence of food, shelter, transportation and healthcare.
We should adopt a national standard that no one working a full-time job should live in poverty.
And if corporations don’t want to pay those wages, they should bear the tax burden for their employees.