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Minimum Wage Common Sense
Steve Chapman is a liberal commentator on the Editorial page of the Chicago Tribune. In the March 6, 2005 edition of the paper, Mr. Chapman undertook to criticize his fellow libs with respect to the Democratsí propensity to demand massive hikes in the minimum wage. Mr. Chapman made some very salient points, rife with common sense, and for this dispassionate look at the issue, Conservativity commends him.
Specifically, Mr. Chapman noted that there are in essence two classes of people who make the minimum wage, presently at $5.15 per hour (soon to go to $6.25): Middle class teenagers looking for money for cell phones, movies and designer clothing, and far fewer, people near or at the poverty line trying to provide. I have no stats to back up a guess, but itís probably safe to assume that 80% of the people who make minimum wage are in the middle class teenager category.
"So what do we do by raising the minimum wage for all? In essence, we tax businesses for employing people at the minimum wage. The end result will be, as Mr. Chapman noted, layoffs."
So what do we do by raising the minimum wage for all? In essence, we tax businesses for employing people at the minimum wage. The end result will be, as Mr. Chapman noted, layoffs. The teenagers, who work at jobs where the correct utterance of "would you like fries with that" is vital, will not be those who are laid off. The victims will be the ones who wash dishes at the restaurants, or clean up the machine shops, or mow the lawns. Why? These businesses will, if faced with the higher minimum wage, and the associated higher payroll taxes that go along with it, seek automation. Instead of two people using 24 inch lawn mowers, they will invest in a single 48 inch lawn mower and lay off the other person.
Thatís what the lefties do not understand, or pretend not to understand as they pander to the poor with class-warfare tactics. Supply and demand applies to employment as well as sales. If you raise the expense of the worker by governmental fiat, you will naturally increase unemployment. Better for us for two people to make $5.15 per hour rather than one making $7.75 per hour.
"It is a harsh reality that people are becoming more and more expendable in business. Automation is eliminating many lower wage jobs."
It is a harsh reality that people are becoming more and more expendable in business. Automation is eliminating many lower wage jobs. I went to Downtown Chicago last week, and parked at a garage I had previously used. The cashier was gone, replaced by a machine. Only the valets were left. In other garages, the valets were also gone; the garages had been converted to "self park." Whaddya wanna bet that that cashier made the minimum wage?
Steve Chapman, kudos. You hit this nail right on the head. Raising the minimum wage hurts those it is supposed to help.