A federal minimum wage was established to ensure the most vulnerable workers were receiving some form of monetary compensation for their efforts. There was a time when abusive labor practices were the norm and well paid, well treated workers, the exception. Thankfully, that is no longer the case. Most companies have practices in place that not only discourage workplace abuse but penalize those who engage in it. And of course there are laws and unions that also serve as checks against abusive practices. But it is important to once again recognize that a high minimum wage was never meant as a security against poverty but more a protection for immigrants, the uneducated and those just entering the workforce, i.e. teens. For people who claim that minimum wage is not a livable wage, the answer is, it was never meant to be a livable wage. It was meant to be the entrance, the stepping stone to a brighter future.
The proposal of high minimum wages will be a game changer. If state governments continue to raise minimum wages, (Seattle leading the way at $15.00/hour), we must recognize the shift from a Capitalistic/Socialistic economic system (yes we do have socialism in this country), to a purely Socialistic system. Government control of businesses and the insistence that they pay high wages, is nothing more than an alternative form of socialism. Instead of the government paying the welfare through programs like welfare, it puts the burden of taking care of people on private enterprise. And if that’s the case, then the government needs to significantly reduce taxes across the board.
One major problem with raising the minimum wage to $15.00/hour is that you reward people with no skills. Anyone can flip a hamburger. What do you then do with those who are educated and who have skills? A high minimum wage doesn’t hurt business because of the unskilled workers, it hurts business because they must then raise the salaries of all of their workers. That may not sound like a bad idea perhaps but in an industry like fast food, where the margins are thin at best, it could be the difference between the black and the red, solvency and bankruptcy. What this will ultimately lead to, is no jobs for those unskilled and those with skills, working in jobs that may be beneath their abilities.
I’m not saying that we don’t need a minimum wage but I am saying that there will be a tipping point where this will kill job creation and the only workers that will suffer are the ones who are least educated and least skilled, the very workers that the minimum wage is supposed to protect. What this country has always been about is climbing out of poverty by learning a trade or by becoming educated. We don’t want workers stuck at minimum wage. The way to raise people up, is to foster the desire to want more. A livable yet low wage is the affliction of so much of the third world. If we continue to push for a higher and higher minimum wage, the result will be a permanent underclass.