How little we can possibly pay people to work is back in the news and so is the endless debate over America’s minimum wage. As per usual, everyone is wrong on this subject.
On the left, my idiotic Democratic friends argue for what’s called a “living wage,” which is nothing more than a trojan horse for ultimately sending money to people, regardless of whether they are working or not, to ensure that they have enough to “live.” If you Google the phrase “Universal Basic Income,” you will see endless stories of moron after moron from Mark Zuckerberg to Andrew Yang and everyone in between all the way to Bernie Sanders espousing the virtues of taking money away from those who work to earn it, and handing it to those who have no interest in, or intention of, ever working.
Raising the minimum wage under the guise of guaranteeing people the ability to afford a certain level of lifestyle is the first step towards Universal Basic Income. It’s un-American and an instant non-motivator. It traps and keeps people under the thumb and control of government (which, in turn, keeps them voting for those who support it).
Capitalism is the American economic system and it has transformed and transitioned more people from the depths of poverty and despair to wealth and prosperity than any other idea or system ever devised. In our system, people are paid based on what the market states that they’re worth. It has never been designed to be “fair,” or equitable. That’s why teachers, police officers, and members of our military make 10% of what some moron who owns and hosts a successful radio show does. There’s nothing fair or equitable about that, but it’s what the market has determined we’re all worth.
As for the minimum wage, it was, and never has been, designed to be a living wage. It’s a jumping off point; you get a minimum wage job in high school to get into the work force and start gaining experience and working your way up. Minimum wage jobs are not careers…they’re not even really jobs; they are the first rung on the ladder to whatever your definition of success is. Democrats, Liberals, and Progressives need to stop trying to fundamentally alter the greatest economic system on Earth and recognize that life is not fair and was never intended to be. Some people will fall through the cracks…usually, as a result of their own unwillingness to do what it takes not to.
Meanwhile, my moronic Republican friends argue that the free market is the be all and end all…let the chips fall where they may, the cream will rise to the top, the strongest will survive, and all of that other macho bullshit that doesn’t actually manifest itself in the real world. The minimum wage was created in 1938, at the height of the Great Depression, when people were literally willing to do anything for anything. Americans were so desperate that they were living a real-life version of “Name That Tune,” but it was “Name that Job and Wage.” People would line up to inhale sewage and when the guy in front of him said he’d do it for 2 cents, the next guy said 1 cent. Thus, the minimum wage, as a form of protection for working people, was created. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Capitalism needs rules, boundaries, and safeguards, and, more importantly, a bare basic minimum price needs to be placed on humanity, lest we repeat horrors of our past and lurch backwards into slavery…for, there are people, in their most desperate moments, who will agree to work for no money, and mere shelter; even if they’re shackled while doing so.
Additionally, conservatives argue (stupidly) that raising the minimum wage will increase the prices we all pay for goods and services. This is provably untrue; we have the data. At no time in the history of the nearly 100-year existence of the minimum wage in America has it ever led to an inflation of prices. Screaming that an increase in the minimum wage will lead to “$14 Big Macs!!!” Is as stupid and lazy as accusing President Obama of being a Muslim. There were legitimate reasons to criticize President Obama and his policies, just as there are legitimate arguments against draconian increases in the minimum wage. There’s no need to make shit up to make your point. For example, we know that minimum wage hikes, when forced on businesses too quickly and with too great an increase, costs people jobs. Bosses, managers, and corporations don’t raise prices, they merely decrease their workforce to absorb the costs. Those left standing happily pick up the slack of the terminated, for they’re just thankful to still have a job (and in most cases are making more money)!
With all of that said, there is an absurd argument going on right now about raising the minimum wage in America. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour and has been for a dozen years. While almost no one actually makes that little anywhere, that isn’t the point. Inflation has skyrocketed in the last 12 years and, most notably, the last 12 months. Everything costs exponentially more, and providing a solid financial floor to working people is not unreasonable. We can’t all walk around bitching about the homeless problem in America and then insist on paying people who are willing to work too little to live.
Additionally, the current proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour does so over the course of 5 years…5 YEARS! The bill, if passed, would increase the minimum wage to $9.50 in 2021, $11 in 2022, $12.50 in 2023, $14 in 2024, and finally $15 in 2025. That’s hardly an unreasonable burden on business owners. Not to mention, it’s also hardly a massive gift to workers. Today, in 2021, someone making $15 per hour and working full-time makes $28,000 per year; that’s below America’s poverty line. By 2025, it will be further below it.
Believe me, I get it…it’s a hard time to own and run a business in America. I deal with the reality of it every single day. But you know what? It’s a hard time to try to make a living in America, too. And while it isn’t the responsibility of all of us to make sure everyone is taken care of, it is our obligation to ensure that everyone has the opportunity. Those who refuse to pursue such can be left behind, but those who want to take the first step towards prosperity should have a reasonable and realistic pathway forward. A Universal Basic Income is a stupid idea that belongs in the former Soviet Union. A $15 minimum wage is an American ideal we should all be behind.