To The Daily Sun,
Why raise the minimum wage? Conservatives argue that when we raise the price of a commodity, less of it will be purchased — supply and demand — and jobs will be lost. Economists are conflicted about whether that's true and how large that effect might be, if it is true. An employer might not cut any jobs if, for example, it is already at a minimum staffing level. Many liberals simply argue that it's the right thing to do. However, maybe that shouldn't be the end of the analysis.
Twenty-five years ago, the majority of those earning the minimum wage were teenagers and others supplementing family income. Today, the story is different. According to Ben Casselman, of the website fivethrityeight.com which does such a good job predicting political races and analyzing sports by the numbers, about half of those earning less than President Obama's proposed minimum of $10.10 are struggling to support themselves and their families.
That number has doubled since 1990. Some conservatives suggest that these people have character flaws that lead to their poor financial condition. But that's a large number of people, and they are working. Despite their efforts, they are poor. Living in poverty is not good for children. For example, a report out of Princeton University suggested a strong correlation between low income and low measures of children's health, intelligence, and academic success regardless of parental characteristics.
Maybe we should ask ourselves if raising the minimum wage is a good thing for our society. How many jobs will be lost? Will it hurt small business owners? How much will those struggling low wage workers benefit? Will their children benefit in the long run. Will we pay less for supplemental educational services and crime control? Is this a way to stimulate demand since that money will most likely be spent not saved and help keep the economy growing?
Some have suggested that raising the minimum wage isn't the best way to attack the problem of poverty among the working poor but we also have to do the political calculus. If we decide it's a good idea to help them, what will pass? Raising the minimum wage might be the most politically viable option. While we are thinking about that, let's not have an emotional or superficial debate about raising the minimum wage. Let's look at what is good for society now and in the long run.
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