In President Obama’s state of the union address, he called for the minimum wage to be raised.
Specifically, he said
“To every mayor, governor, state legislator in America, I say, you don’t have to wait for Congress to act; Americans will support you if you take this on. And as a chief executive, I intend to lead by example. Profitable corporations like Costco see higher wages as the smart way to boost productivity and reduce turnover. We should too. In the coming weeks I will issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay their federally-funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour because if you cook — (cheers, applause) — our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you should not have to live in poverty. (Sustained applause.)
I left the applause insertions in the speech just for the comedic effect.
So, I’ve been reading up on it, and I’ve discovered the same thing here that I’ve discovered on a few other subjects; you can find experts that defend both sides of the argument. I’m no smarter than a bevy of experts, so there you go.
The minimum wage is $7.25. Less than 5% of American workers earn minimum wage. At $7.25 an hour, a full-time worker would make $15,000. A minimum wage of $10.10 would mean earning about $21,000 per year. The following table comes from the Department of Health and Human Services, and are the poverty guidelines for the continental U.S.
2014 POVERTY GUIDELINES FOR THE 48 CONTIGUOUS STATES
AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Persons in family/household
|For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $4,060 for each additional person.
So, establishing a new minimum wage would lift families of 3 above the poverty line. If you’re a family of 4, I guess you’re still out of luck. Maybe it should be established based on family size? Why exclude families of 4? That’s not embracing diversity.
Why stop at 10.10? Why not raise it to $15? That’s what labor leaders in California are trying to do for hotel workers. Why not raise it to $20?
Raising the minimum wage would increase a worker’s pay by $6,000 a year. But there’s another perspective as well that I never hear about. If I run a small business, and let’s say I have 3 minimum wage workers, if the minimum wage was raised to the proposed number, it would increase my payroll by $18,000. I know at least one person who runs a small business who said he’d have to let someone go. That helps. I’m sure the counter argument is that it’s mostly big business that pays minimum wage, but there is another side of the fence.
Here’s an excerpt from Facebook, posted by a friend who owns a small business after he watched the SOTU:
I’d love to raise minimum wage. It’s only feasible for small business when one cuts taxes and increases TN care and Medicaid reimbursement though. Otherwise, true small business is out of business. Real talk. Common sense. What Washington lacks!!! And go ahead, lengthen true unemployment benefits, only if you cut those who use it for entitlement instead of getting a job
A recent Pew Research revealed this about America’s ideas about hard work.
Meanwhile, Republicans are far more likely than Democrats to say that hard work and determination lead to success for most people. Fully 76% of Republicans say most people can get ahead if they are willing to work hard; just 20% say that hard work is no guarantee of success. Democrats are evenly divided: 49% say most can get ahead through hard work, but 48% say hard work is no guarantee of success.
Now, I agree, hard work alone is no guarantee of success. You can work as hard as you’d like, and if you’re dumb as a stone, doesn’t mean you’re getting anywhere. But I see the question more about work ethic, how you think about becoming successful. I wonder about the alternative to any question like this. For example, if you don’t think you can be successful by hard work, how do you think one can be successful? Maybe you think people can’t improve their situation? Well, there are about a million stories in America that will prove you wrong. Maybe you just think people get ahead by the government giving them things.
While writing this I saw a protest with a guy holding a sign that said “Can’t survive on 7.25.” I don’t know, maybe you can, depends on your life style. I couldn’t. That’s why I went to night school for 8 years to get my masters. Anyway, it’s called minimum wage, not living wage. I guess we should either change the name or raise the rate.
I’m all for raising the minimum wage. It is, however, incredibly unfair to those who run businesses to raise it by almost 3 bucks an hour all at once.