Opinion: The Case Against the [$15, $20, $25] Minimum Wage

Personally, I’m of the mindset that if a person is not satisfied with the pay they’re receiving, maybe it’s time to look for another job or do what’s necessary to position themselves for a better paying job.

I know, as I had worked two jobs early on in my career as I had a family to feed. I just did what I had to do to provide. I had options available and choices to make, the same as individuals do today. So, I cannot agree that it is the responsibility of business owners to just arbitrarily increase wages because hourly workers want or think they “deserve” more pay.

And, a question that is mostly ignored is how a raise in minimum wage to let’s say $15 per hour affects those already earning $15 per hour? If someone’s pay is raised from $10 to $15, does that mean the other worker already earning $15 will be bumped to $22.50 or higher? The typical answer I’ve heard is a resounding, no!

Is that fair to the person that has been employed several years and has diligently worked to make his or her way up the ladder only to have everyone else see their pay increase significantly while his or her wages remain the same? What is their incentive to continue working to their fullest ability?

As for the fast food industry, one that unions are aggressively attacking because of the large numbers of employees from one chain to another, when was it determined that a typical job at a fast food restaurant would or should be one that would support a family? That was never a consideration in the development of the fast food business model.

If wages are just increased to what many claim would be a “fair” wage, what is the incentive for workers to excel at their jobs? What would performance reviews look like in the future? What’s next… guaranteed annual increases just because another year has passed?

Ultimately, businesses would have to pay their workers more and do one of three things: lay off some workers, cut already diminished profit margins, or raise prices. As a result of laying off workers, it would become more difficult for the minimum wage workers, who tend to be young and unskilled, to find a job in a competitive job market.

Furthermore, in order to replace lost profits, some businesses would have to raise their prices, causing the value of the dollar to decrease. It is likely that prices would rise as well, defeating the original intention of raising the minimum wage.

In the end, this movement will cost jobs and shutter once successful businesses. Those that survive will do so by adding technology to replace workers. In the end, the unions will benefit by collecting more dues, but the average worker will not benefit as many will have joined the ranks of the unemployed.

America is the land of freedom. From a business standpoint, that means individuals are free to accept or decline job offers. On the flip side, business owners should be free to offer jobs to whomever they believe is qualified for an open position and at the wage believed to make economical sense for the business. This should include the owner’s return on investment – provided of course, the wage offered is at or above the federally mandated minimum wage. After all, they’re the ones taking the risk of investing in a business.

Clearly, unions don’t see it this way as they’re truly only looking to add to their own coffers. To them, it really is not for the betterment of workers as much it is to strengthen the unions and its leadership. I have similar sentiment for politicians pushing this agenda, as well.

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In my opinion, we’ll see higher wages that will do absolutely nothing for the wage earners in the long run as prices will have increased accordingly. A $25 per hour minimum wage does no good if the cost of a meal for a family of four at McDonalds rises to $75!

A few additional thoughts and questions…

Ironically, we’re at a time when customer expectations continue to set the customer experience bar higher and higher. Yet, with no incentive to excel, how many workers will just go through the motions and deliver lackluster experiences, at best? Will that further hurt businesses and possibly lead to more job loss?

With severe shortages of skilled workers in the trades, doesn’t it make sense to increase exposure to these opportunities AND provide more training opportunities to attract individuals that need higher paying jobs? How about bringing back shop classes to schools to get the ball rolling? Maybe it’s time to make trade schools free?

Has anyone given thought to the ripple effect to the younger generation as unemployment among teenagers continues to rise. With jobs previously earmarked for this demographic continuing to be filled by individuals raising families, what’s to become of the next generation?

With fast food jobs, as well as other jobs formerly held by teenagers including newspaper delivery, cutting lawns and even babysitting, where will teenagers find employment in the future? How will they be able to develop an ability to work with others? At what point will they be able to develop work ethic? And possibly the most alarming thought I have, How will they occupy their idle time?

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!