To The Daily Sun,
This is in response to Dave Pollak's Aug. 26 letter in The Sun.
I see at least one other person has been thinking about the "can't raise a family on minimum wage" trap and the consequences thereof.
The pluses of raising the minimum wage appear to outweigh any negatives at first, but that's because it's easy to ignore or to purposely minimize the negative effects. Too many seem to think minimum wage should be able to support a family. Considering that it was never meant to do so, never meant to be a so-called 'living wage", pushing it to become that is a huge mistake and will hurt more people than it will help.
First, minimum wage is supposed to be primarily for entry level jobs, or for second jobs to raise a little extra money. (Yes, I know there are minimum wage jobs that are not, but they are in the minority.) It never has and never will be able to support a family of four, as so many of the minimum wage social justice warriors claim.
Raising the minimum wage might help some people, but it will also lock out more people from the job market than it will help. While Mr. Pollak mentioned a $10.10 minimum wage, others have been pushing for a $15 minimum wage. Considering a majority of the people working minimum wage jobs are between the ages of 16 and 24, what would be the consequence of such an increase in the minimum wage? Most of them would lose their jobs because, quite frankly, the jobs they're doing aren't worth that much. (I could make the same argument for the $10.10 minimum wage.) Others would never be able to find their first job because no one is going to want to pay an inexperienced worker with no work history that kind of money for what is to all intents no longer an entry level job. An already high teen unemployment rate would skyrocket and it would be even worse for minority teens.
Second, most of the working poor aren't making minimum wage. For the most part they're earning well above the $10.10 minimum wage mentioned by Mr. Pollak.
Third, artificially raising the cost of labor always hurts more than those it was supposed to help by increasing the cost of doing business across the board. Those higher costs will ripple through the economy, increasing the costs of goods and services in general. When it's all said and done, those receiving the wage increase may find themselves further behind, as the raise helps for a short period of time, but is then canceled out by the increased costs of goods and services later down the road. This is assuming, of course, that they haven't been priced out of the labor market and replaced by computerized systems. (McDonald's is already working to replace some of their people with ordering kiosks in the their high cost markets because they're less expensive than humans, never show up late, never goldbrick, and never demand pay raises or time off.) This is particularly true during times of economic weakness, something we have been experiencing now since 2008. You don't artificially increases costs during economic down times because all that does is further weaken the businesses trying to survive.
Fourth, wages across the board would be affected as some are indexed against the minimum wage. Other workers would demand well above the new minimum wage if they were making well above minimum wage prior to the increase. An example: Say the minimum wage is increased to $15. Someone already making $15 an hour would feel they should now be making more, perhaps $25 an hour. After all they were already worth above minimum wage before the hike. Those making $20 would feel they should be making $30 an hour for the same reason, and so on. In the end, did anyone really benefit if all it did is shift all wages upwards, and with it the cost of goods and services? Someone who was making $7.25 an hour and now being paid $15 an hour would appear to be better off, at least on paper. But they may find that after everything settles out the $15 wage doesn't let them buy any more than their $7.25 an hour job did, and perhaps they won't be able to buy as much as they could prior to the hike.
If the minimum wage social justice warriors really want to help, then perhaps they should be pushing a two-tiered approach, with a separate minimum wage for entry level jobs aimed at teens. (I realize the SJWs might scream about exploitation of those teens by "greedy business owners", but better they get work experience at a lower wage than no experience at all because they've been priced out of the market.)
Dale Channing Eddy