Very few issues in the last thirty years have been debated as much as the federal minimum wage. The debate is of course, a farce. The debate is bullshit. The debate is the economic equivalent of the debate over climate change/global warming. It is not a debate, it is an argument over power and control over resources and the monetary consequences thereof.
Somehow the minimum wage debate has been lumped in with the social safety net/ entitlements debate, as if recipients want something for nothing. Literally the opposite is true. We are talking about adult men and women who are not only willing to work, but show up for work 40, 50, 60, 70 hours a week or more. All they want in return for the more often than not, physical labor that they are give is for in return, the ability to pay all of their bills and have enough left over to have some fun AND save for the future.
Employees with more income are more productive. Employees who have higher wages are able to spend more money. Those are the reasons Henry Ford doubled the pay of his assembly line workers in 1914. The results were more productive grunts, but more importantly to Ford and to the country as a whole, more cars purchase, more money pumped into the economy. Ford’s workers were now able to buy the cars they put together on the assembly line in Detroit. This resulted not only in a boom in auto sales, but a boom to the economy in general, serving as a precursor to the Roaring Twenties.
Cost equals wage divided by productivity. Never forget that equation. Economists don’t, people with MBA’s don’t. Just like the dirty secret of fitness is you never need to do anything other than push-ups, sit ups, squats, pull ups, and jog the dirty secret of economic policy debate in regard to wages versus costs is that the effect of increased wages offsets the rise in costs due to an increase in productivity.
The minimum wage has remained essentially stagnant for almost twenty years while the consumer price index (the cost of the stuff we need to buy to survive) has gone up steadily over that time. Wages have not risen at all when adjusted for inflation, in fact, they have decreased.
Why are slave wages acceptable in our society? It’s 2014, not 1914. If people are willing to work, why should they not be paid enough to live off of their paycheck? Cause of the market? The people struggling the most are often working the hardest. How and why is the free market leaving them behind? These are people willing to work more than eight hours each day, more than forty hours each week. Do they not deserve to be able to have money for all their essential costs and still have some money for a little bit of fun here and there?
They perform the essential tasks. Hedge fund management is not essential, garbage pickup is. Bank vice presidents are not essential, food preparation is. Day traders are not essential, janitors are. Just because a group of workers doesn’t have an army of lobbyists doesn’t mean they don’t deserve their piece of the pie. Their piece of the pie they work for with their hands, feet, blood, sweat…and tears when they match their paychecks with their bills at the end of the month.
Remember these are human beings, not numbers on a spreadsheet. Lives, with families, not expenses on a report. Slavery has been abolished for quite some time. One of the consequences of that is if people are willing to do work, or hard labor, we pay them fairly for their time and effort. Fairly means a living wage. Living wage is $15 an hour. If we can’t afford to pay that, then we as a society must adjust before these hard-working people get a fourth job and learn to live on less than three hours of sleep per night with no vacation or retirement forever eva, forever eva, forever eva, until they are put six feet under in a pine wood box.