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Saturday, July 5, 2014

MINIMUM WAGE


MINIMUM WAGE
 
The following is the opinion of a cranky old man with little knowledge on the subject opined.  Opposing opinions are welcome.  They will be ignored, but they are welcome, and please, no name calling…that means you, you big stupid head!
There are some jobs which by the nature of the education and or skill set required to accomplish the task do not require a minimum wage.  Businesses have to compete for qualified engineers, doctors, teachers (yes, even teachers,) shortstops and quarterbacks.   Salaries are driven strictly by supply and demand.
There are some jobs which require little to no education or special skill set to accomplish the required task.  These are the jobs that I have been told Americans will not take and that is why we need more immigrants.  Now it seems that Americans do take these jobs, and they are not able to make ends meet because supply and demand keeps wages so low.
These jobs used to be held almost exclusively by teenagers or part timers just looking for some extra spending money.  Now they are held by single parents who have to decide on paying the rent or putting food on the table for their children.  These are “Minimum Wage Jobs.”
Why do we have a minimum wage?  There is no maximum wage requirement to protect employers against greedy workers with special skills that are in high demand.   Well Professional Baseball had one for a while but it was ruled unconstitutional.   We have minimum wage laws to protect against employers  taking unfair advantage of workers.
I thought unions took care of that issue. 
Well, yes but there are some areas of employ where it is extremely difficult to organize workers.  Workers do need some level of protection and even a conservative such as myself believes minimum wage laws are necessary.
At what level should these wages be set?  Should the wage be set to guarantee every worker a living wage?  What is a living wage?  If the worker has eight children should that person be guaranteed a higher wage then others?  That sounds like a fine idea.  Except I’ll bet it would be very hard for workers with eight children to find an employer.  Those greedy employers would probably hire workers with less children.
The problem with a minimum wage is if it is too low, it is meaningless.  If it is too high, it restricts employment and hurts the people it is aimed at helping.  When I was in school, I worked at a minimum wage, $.85 an hour and later $1.15.  I would have worked for less, hell I only needed gas money and something to do.   Believe me the jobs I worked would not attract anyone from Mexico today, but I was glad to have a law to keep employers from completely ripping me off.
There were jobs that paid below minimum wage.  Kids would mow lawns, shovel snow or baby sit for 50 cents an hour.  Somehow in my neighborhood that was the accepted under the table minimum wage.  It was just a given that no one would work for less than 50 cents an hour.  I imagine their exists an accepted under the table minimum wage today.  
The question remains, what is a fair minimum wage.  The answer is it should be the highest possible rate which would have the least negative effect on employment.
The current rate, $8.25 an hour in New Jersey, may not be high enough to entice some workers off the public dole.  The wage number I hear bandied about is $15 an hour.  Would that keep employers from hiring?
Look, I don’t know what rate the minimum wage should be, but for sure some jobs will never pay enough to comfortably support a family of four.  Higher minimum wages is not a long term solution to a poverty issue.  The real way to effectively raise minimum wages is to reduce minimum wage workers. 
Our long term goal should be to provide better education and skill development.  Provide training for higher paying jobs in high school and even Jr. High.  We need chefs, plumbers, machinists, electricians, HVAC installers, and computer technicians.  We probably spend too much money in college on History and Philosophy degrees.  Perhaps many high school kids should be in intern programs learning marketable trades instead of learning algebra and chemistry.
For the short term the minimum wage should probably be higher than it is today.  I don’t believe it has kept pace with inflation. 
How high?
I am warming up my “Wal-Mart greeting wave.”  If the minimum wage is upped to $18 an hour, I am coming out of retirement.

 

The preceding was the opinion of a cranky old man and not necessarily that of management…Mrs. Cranky.

   
 

 

11 comments:

  1. My gripe about those who argue for a higher minimum wage is that most haven't ever had to work an entry level job, not have they ever had to be concerned if their business could support hired employees.
    It is way too simple to say the minimum wage has to be increased if none of the accompanying costs of a wage increase are included.
    I'm pretty sure I could go on and on about the economics of wages and production.
    But then those things of which I am ignorant would show their ugly face.

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  2. i personally think the shift to 4-year degree as a 'minimum' mentality has made us lose a lot of the good, honest trades. i wish there'd be a return to 1 or 2 year technical programs to allow more folks to gain education and training in good fields w/o the heavy student loan burdens so many take on for a degree that may still have them dishing up fries.

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  3. I agree with you that we need more people doing all sorts of jobs. Not everyone should go to college and many colleges are churning out worthless degrees that leave students buried under a mountain of debt. We sent our son to a state university for four years and he later decided to be a mechanic. Now he's finally benefiting from his education by flipping cars and he's much happier. I agree there should be a minimum wage but I guess it's all related to inflation. Take care and have a terrific weekend.

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  4. We need strong trades advocates to step in and begin fostering this training in junior high school. It's a shame a kid takes a four year degree and then goes back another two years for HVAC training, which pays three times a sociology degree.

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  5. We've become so dependent on the government that many aren't doing anything. They don't have to so they don't. I would like to see some sanity in this discussion rather than the one sided crud I've been hearing. I worked minimum wage jobs in my youth, but figured out I needed more money to make a decent living so I did what was necessary to make that happen.

    Have a fabulous day. :)

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  6. I just believe that minimum wage (hell, all wages) should have kept up with inflation, and should be adjusted to match what it was 20/30 years ago (w/ inflation). My understanding is that it would be around ~15/hr today, though I could be convinced another number is more accurate. It shouldn't be harder for a full time minimum wage employee to survive today than it was in 1990, you know?

    I'm not a minimum wage employee, but when I look at what I would have been getting paid had wages kept up with inflation, it makes me sad. I think nearly 1/2 of renting americans now are spending 30% of their income on rent alone, which suuuucks. If you're not in the top 1%, whose wages grew exponentially, you are getting a raw deal. Our productivity is up, but our wages are down. Not fair.

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  7. I don't know the number, either, but paying a living wage to underpaid workers would help the economy because those folks would spend the money on all the things people need in order to live. I love the idea of a maximum wage, because the millions handed to excessively overpaid owners and managers just sits in offshore bank accounts. I know, never gonna happen.

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  8. Our students have a choice to attend the local technical school, or regular high school classes during their junior and senior year. They go half days to the technical school, and take three class periods of science, history and English back at the HS. They can get certified in automotive, HVAC, machine shop, graphic arts, culinary, nursing, electrical, building trades, computers, and probably more that I'm forgetting. About half of our juniors and seniors choose this option. They have to maintain a C average and have good attendance, or they're booted out by the technical school.

    It costs them nothing, because our school has a contract for a certain number of slots at the technical school. Many of them have jobs lined up when they graduate.

    I don't know much about the minimum wage situation, other than to wonder why anyone would strive to be anything but a burger-flipper if they can earn a comfortable living doing it.

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  9. You make a lot of sense here. On the one hand we base public assistance on what we feel is a bare-bones humane minimum level needed to survive HERE IN AMERICA. But then we base our minimum wage on what is needed to keep our businesses competitive with those IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD....(it is said) we can't pay our workers a higher minimum wage because to do so would make American businesses uncompetitive.

    The two scales (public assistance/minimum wage) are not apples to apples. As you point out, it needs to make financial sense for workers to work vs staying on welfare. Bottom line: $7.35 (?) isn't that number.

    S

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  10. I think you made some great points about minimum wage. I really don't know what the answer is. I do know California incrementally is going to have their minimum wage be $15 an hour by 2017. I'm thinking everything is going to go up in cost as a result of it, so will $15 an hour make one be able to be okay financially or will it be equivalent to the present $7.50 minimum wage that is made now?

    betty

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  11. You've set out the conundrum beautifully. There has to be a minimum wage; it should be enough to live on; it should be enough to encourage work over welfare; it can't be too high or jobs will be lost; unions and worker protection are needed; unions are parasitic and don't help workers when they get too powerful. I like the idea of a maximum wage too, but I also know that salaries have to be free to go high for in-demand jobs, and people find ways around caps. Maybe if we concentrate on the minimum wage and looking after the bottom end better, it won't matter how well the top end looks after itself. Who knows - no one was solved these issues.

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