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58% Of Republicans Don’t Get It (And 91% Of Democrats)

I was very disappointed when New Jersey voted to constitutionally tie our minimum wage to the inflation rate.  I can’t see how the folks that voted in favor of it can now hold Christie responsible for New Jersey’s economy considering that they’ve just attached lead balls to it’s ankles.

Now Gallup is reporting that nationally 58% of Republicans (and 91% of Democrats) support raising the federal minimum wage to $9/hr.  I’m hoping none of you out there support such a thing, but just in case some of you haven’t read what I’ve previously written about it I am re-publishing a post I wrote last February when the New Jersey legislature was working on a minimum wage bill.

Minimum Dollars?…Or Minimum Sense!

Some answers to some of the bogus arguments put forward by proponents of increasing the minimum wage:

1) You can’t support a family on the current minimum wage.

You shouldn’t expect to.  You have to acquire skills first before you can expect to be paid enough to live on your own, much less support a family.  Except for recent immigrants, almost all minimum wage earners are young people still living at home or working part time while in college.  Many housewives also have part time minimum wage jobs during school hours for their young children, but it’s their husband’s paycheck that supports the family.   Besides, it takes a paycheck much larger than any proposed minimum wage would provide to be enough to support a household.  If you want to live independently, you have to acquire the skills to be sufficiently productive.  Paying people based on what they “need”, rather than on what they produce, is communism.  Under communism everybody is poor because there is no incentive to be productive.

2) It’s been a long time since the minimum wage was increased.  It’s time these folks got a raise.

The average time a minimum wage worker works at minimum wage is less than a year.  It’s not like these people are working year after year at minimum wage just waiting for Steve Sweeney to give them a raise.  As they learn the job and become more productive, employers voluntarily pay them more because they’re worth more to the company.  And if they don’t produce in added value to the company enough to cover their cost to that company they need to be let go, not given a raise.

3) Minimum wage should be tied to inflation.

Bad idea.  Rising wages, without a concurrent rise in productivity is one of the causes of price inflation.  Additionally, the price of things, including various forms of skilled and unskilled labor, sends a critical signal to the market.  This is how we know what to do and what to make and how much to make.  Price controls such as the minimum wage distort that signal and waste human and capital resources.

4) Minimum wage helps people rise out of poverty.

Just the opposite.  Minimum wage keeps many people stuck in poverty.  No law is going to make companies pay people more than they produce.  People who have not yet acquired the skills they need to be worth the minimum wage get no job at all.  Structural unemployment is the main effect of minimum wage laws.  If you have a job, any job, at any pay, at least you have your foot on the first rung of the ladder to success.  At that point if you show up on time every day, and always try to do the best job possible, you will get ahead and you will in the long run be successful.  Any job is an opportunity.  For example, service stations used to pay young people very low wages to pump gas.  But when these kids weren’t at the pumps they would help the mechanics fix cars.  This is how most of our mechanics were trained.  They didn’t have to spend thousands of dollars at some technical institute to learn the trade.

By the way, many amenities we as Americans used to enjoy such as gas station attendants, apartment doormen, movie theater ushers and grocery baggers have been eliminated because the minimum wage made it too expensive.  I remember when they used to even bring your groceries out to the car for you!

5) People who want to raise the minimum wage care about other people.  People who oppose it are just mean.

Of course it’s easy the be generous with other people’s money.  (Especially at election time.)  None of those pushing a higher minimum wage have any clue what it’s like trying to run a business in a competitive marketplace.  And when they go shopping they would never patronize a business that charged substantially more than it’s competitors.  Would Steve Sweeney pay $75 for a $20 haircut so his barber could enjoy a higher standard of living?  I doubt it.  Would he pay $25 for a hamburger at McDonald’s so hamburger flippers could be paid a “living wage”?  I doubt that too.  He just wants the political benefit of giving everybody a raise.  He’ll let McDonald’s worry about how to actually pay for it.  Screwing up the economy and forcing people to do things they don’t want to do in order to win elections?  Now that’s mean!

 6) Minimum wage proponents are for workers’ rights.

One of the most basic rights human beings have is the right to freely enter into contract.  If someone wants to take a job, and he finds the terms of employment acceptable, he has a right to do it without the government telling him he’s not allowed to.  And no person, worker or otherwise, has the right to use force to get what he wants, or even what he needs.  That is theft whether you use collective bargaining laws, minimum wage laws or a gun.

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