Friday, May 12, 2017

This student takes a nuanced position on minimum wage increases

I am here on behalf of the many that oppose the minimum wage being raised to $15.00 an hour for all workers.  Some jobs are worth the minimum wage being increased—and I am thinking of nursing home staff, hospital nurse techs, and direct care workers who are taking care of people, taking care of some of our most fragile people.  That type of work needs to have a minimum wage set higher.  Most days those health care workers are working long hours, and they are understaffed.  To raise the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour for entry jobs like many in the food service industry is not warranted.  These types of jobs are typically for teenagers who are just working a few hours to buy new clothes or a pair of shoes, and they are not paying their bills with that kind of money.  These entry level jobs function to get people in the workforce to show that they have held a job before and to hopefully inspire people to go on a get a better paying job. 

Raising the minimum wage to $15.00 for workers in a company like McDonald’s would have teenagers making this kind of serious money, which is okay in itself, but with making this kind of money it can come some indirect consequences that we must avoid, such as having young workers decide that they do not want to further their education.  They will settle for the entry level job.  These kinds of jobs are not jobs where you should want to start and raise a family.  They are not the jobs that you would want to plan on staying at forever and making it a career choice.  Raising the minimum wage could hurt the very people that it is intended to help. 

With the higher general minimum wage, employers would need to be more cautious in their hiring and look at potential employees and wonder what they could bring to their company.  They could wonder how useful a potential employee will be if they in fact did hire them.  This selectivity in hiring would be a barrier to people just starting out without an employment history.

 People that are unhappy with the wage they are making should make strides to find other jobs.  They should get some schooling or some training to obtain a better job and get better pay.  They should not expect to stay in an entry level job and receive better pay for a job that is not worth that.  There are people that are spending insane amounts of money in school so that they can live comfortably, so that they can get that job that pays them more than minimum wage because they know what kind of life they will live if they do not make minimum wage.  Yes I am here opposing the minimum wage increase and I do hope that this bill is not passed into law. 

This essay makes some points against the general increase of the minimum wage up to $15 per hour.  Usually opposition to the minimum wage is based on three propositions: 1) higher wages will reduce the demand for labor, so unemployment will rise; 2) higher wages will spark inflation, which will erode the benefits of wage gains; and 3) it is morally wrong for the government to intervene to tell citizens what they must pay their workers, as pay is better set by having workers and employers negotiate a wage rate that is agreeable or acceptable to both sides without government coercive regulation. What is fascinating about this paper is that none of these tired old chestnuts are used.  The student has an innovative argument.

The first argument is that some jobs are underpaid, and the government might step in to increase minimum wages in those types of underpaid jobs, but the prevailing wages in other sorts of work are okay when they are low.  The student is suggesting minimum wages set by type of work or job sector, a more complicated situation than a global wage floor applying to all work.  This gets at one problem of the minimum wage: a global minimum wage often seems wrong.  The de facto solution has been for the United States to have a federal minimum wage standard that is quite low, and allow states and cities or counties to set higher minimum wages.  It makes sense that minimum wages in San Francisco or New York ought to be much higher than minimum wages in rural Arkansas or along the Rio Grande in south Texas. Having worked (like most Americans, briefly) in the food service industry, I agree that a single minimum wage for all of us didn't seem fair.  The person who worked at the grill was doing something more dangerous than the rest of us, and that cook had to work with more skill and with greater urgency than many of the rest of us.  Likewise, the danger and unpleasant nature or the higher responsibility required in some low-wage jobs in child care, elderly care, and health care seem to require higher wages than those given to persons in easier, safer, less critical work, and yet the minimum wage is the same for everyone no matter the value of their work or the danger and difficulties associated with it.


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