The Minimum-Wage Charade

Democrats in the House of Representatives have an ambitious list of proposals they will try to ram through in their first 100 hours at the controls. While some are worthwhile, even laudable, others are counterproductive. However, the one proposal that is most likely to pass both houses of Congress and be signed into law by President Bush – raising the minimum wage – represents the worst kind of political pandering.In the run-up to the 2006 election, the woman who was to become House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, lamented, “In 100 hours, the top CEOs will earn an average of $2 million each. In 100 hours, a minimum-wage worker working 8 hours a day will earn $171.67.”

When it comes to class warfare, Pelosi is a five star general. The point she was trying to make – just in case you missed it – is that the poor in this country are poor because our CEOs are rich.

What do the earnings of America’s top CEOs have to do with minimum-wage jobs? Plenty!

The reality is that many of the CEOs Pelosi reviles began their working careers earning the minimum wage. Furthermore, those minimum-wage jobs gave these people valuable work experience, which they put to good use. That’s because a minimum-wage job is the first rung on the employment ladder.

Yes, it is true. The federal minimum wage is $5.15 an hour, and it has not increased in the past nine years; however, those taking minimum-wage jobs have done quite well without any help from the government.

Ronald Reagan could have been referring to the minimum wage when he told us, “Government is the problem, not the solution.” The minimum wage was meant to be a training wage. When an employer takes on a minimum-wage worker, that employer expects to spend extra time with that worker until the worker develops the skills to be fully productive. The reality is that minimum-wage workers who work full time and increase their skills do not stay at the minimum wage long.

Unfortunately, when the minimum wage goes up, those who lack skills and work experience – the ones who need these jobs the most – are the ones who get hurt. When the cost of training a worker becomes too expensive, many entry-level jobs simply go away.

Last June, Sen. Edward Kennedy, another class warfare general opined, “There’s no state in America where $5.15 an hour meets the basic needs of a working family. We have waited too long to give these hardworking men and women a raise.” Kennedy would have us believe that there are millions of people working to support families that have been trapped at the federal minimum wage for the past nine years. He knows better.

Forty percent of those minimum-wage earners received a raise within four months. Two-thirds received raises within a year. The median increase for those first year workers who began at the minimum-wage level was 10 percent. That increase was more than five times that of other workers.

To be sure, there are workers who stay at minimum-wage jobs for good reasons. Workers in the restaurant and other service industries often make much more in tips than they do in a salary. Also, those who prefer part-time work often take minimum-wage jobs, with no thought of advancement, because they like the flexibility.

Statistics show that most minimum-wage earners are students or retirees working part-time and, contrary to popular opinion, they are not poor. In fact, the average family income of a minimum-wage earner is almost $50,000 per year.

Would these people gladly accept a minimum-wage raise? Of course! Who would turn down Santa Claus?

It should be no surprise that the biggest supporters of a minimum-wage increase are unions. Not only do union leaders use a hike in the minimum wage as an excuse to demand even higher wages for their members, they know that minimum-wage hikes tend to block low-wage workers from competing with union members who have higher skill levels.

Yes, the federal government and the states can mandate higher wages, but they cannot dictate who gets hired. When companies are forced to pay higher wages they go for skilled, not unskilled, workers.

The minimum-wage hike is not about helping the poor or eliminating poverty. It’s about helping “fat cat” unions get fatter. Why? The unions, in turn, show their appreciation to these bleeding heart politicians in the form of hefty amounts of campaign cash. That’s what this pandering is all about!

It’s a cheap, dirty political trick. Don’t be fooled.

4 thoughts on “The Minimum-Wage Charade

  1. Are you crazy?? Have you ever worked for minimum wage? As someone who has, i can tell you that employers will not give you more money since minimum wage is a “training wage.” They will pay you as little as they have to. I was indeed trapped at the minimum wage for years. These things happen frequently in pink-collar jobs such as retail.Those raises you are talking about are like a dime an hour! I know! And you can’t go by percentages when the actual numbers are so disparate, it’s incredibly misleading. MAYBE 2% of CEO’s EVER worked minimum wage. Most were born rich. Never mind, I couldn’t even finish reading your propagandist drivel. Who are you anyway?


  2. You are so incredibly ignorant- it’s sad. Go work a minimum job and try to take care of a child- born IN WEDLOCK- by yourself after your asshole husband cheats on you. Should a woman get down on her knees and beg? Oh wait, you’d probably think that was necessary. But some of us have pride and don’t want to bother with that. Then what if your child gets sick? Can you take off from work and take him or her to the doctor? No- because often times, minimum wage jobs come with very little to no health benefits. Live a real life and then speak. And get your head our of the ground.

    PS- I hope gas keeps going up- as you probably have a unnecessarily large vehicle because they’re trendy. Go on- s**** the next generation. It really should be ALL ABOUT YOU!


  3. this is crazy i worked for a long time at minimum wage i suggest you go give it a try for one year. have some empathy for gods sake.


  4. Raising the minimum wage sounds good but when you look at it’s over-all affect on the very people it was designed to help, which is to provide as many young people as possible a first time job. When we raise the minimum wage employers have a tendency to hire less people, or do the same job with less people, and/or cut the hours of those employed full time. Food service establishments, who generally pay these low wages (Burger King) and others are in a very competitive business, and those who manage best come out on top. I know no one who works in these low wage food-service jobs that doesn’t have some other support mechanism, nor do I know anyone who expects to make enough money to pay rent, food, car payment, insurance, (ie. what we call a living wage. I’m a business owner and I can’t hire an experienced janitor for less than $10.00 per hour. The minimum wage issue should be looked at over a given period of time based on more than on economic factor, and when the stars, moon, and planet is aligned correctly, a raise is due. Go figure!


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