Awhile back. my wife Angela and I were very excited when our eldest daughter, Aubrey, got her first job. We talked about the importance of responsibility and how this was the very first step in her adult life.We also discussed in some depth the whole protest movement for fast food workers to have a “living wage” — a $15 minimum wage. One just has to ponder, do we really want to promote cooking French fries as a career pursuit? And why shouldn’t the whole issue of minimum wage be decided at the state level and indexed to inflation, or determined by the employer?
After all, there are three giant, glaring facts about the minimum wage liberals absolutely refuse to admit. (Hat tip to Young Conservatives)
1. Less than three percent of Americans actually earn at or below the minimum wage.
The U.S. Department of Labor says 1.6 million people make the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Another 2 million earn below that rate, such as restaurant servers who make tips in addition to a lower base hourly wage which, according to U.S. News and World Report, “in many cases actually puts them significantly above the minimum wage in reality, if not officially.” That means in a nation of 317 million, just 3.6 million (1.1%) make at or below the minimum wage. As a share of the U.S. workforce, that makes the number just 2.8%
2. Half of all minimum wage workers are 16 to 24 years old.
According to the Department of Labor, “minimum wage workers tend to be young,” and “about half of those paid the Federal minimum wage or less” are below age 25. Many of these are students working while in school or teenagers with part-time or summer jobs. That means half of the people most affected by a minimum wage hike are among those least likely to show up at the polls to vote, especially in a midterm election year. Indeed, minimum wage workers who are 16 and 17 years old are not even legally eligible to vote.
Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman famously noted that “the most anti-black law on the books of this land is the minimum wage law.” Higher wages mean employers seek higher, more skilled workers. That, said Friedman, puts those with disproportionately less education and experience at a significant disadvantage when looking to put their foot on the first rung of the employment ladder.
So let’s take a walk down memory lane shall we…and recall our own first minimum wage job. Mine was at the Baskin-Robbins located in Ainsley Mall – at the intersection of Piedmont and Monroe Drive — in Atlanta. The minimum wage then was just $3.25, but boy was I thrilled to get that job. I was going to be able to earn revenue for myself and not be totally dependent on Mom and Dad. I would be able to fill up the gas tank, buy myself some clothes, and take my girlfriend out to a movie or concert. Now, I had no intention of making Baskin Robbins my career, nor did I want to become a franchisee. My next interim goal was to get a position at the Sears store and catalog center located on Ponce de Leon — the dream part time job.
I didn’t see my part time employment as a platform upon which I was to raise a family. It was a bridge to something greater, but in the interim I gained experience and learned about responsibility and accountability — intangibles that I’ve seen Aubrey acquire.Therefore, it is a false narrative promulgated by the progressive socialist left to talk about a minimum wage position sustaining a family — that is not and has never been the intent.
These positions are best used as platforms for something greater, or even as fill-in-the-gap positions to complement other full time employment.The progressives who advance the idea of career minimum wage positions end up causing unemployment for the very folk they were supposedly trying to help – just look at teenage unemployment in America, especially in the inner city, minority communities.
If we had serious economic growth, policies that would expand our economy and small business job production, then adults wouldn’t be out there used as pawns by unions, paid to protest, and all for something — $15 minimum wage jobs — that will skew the economy in the wrong direction.
Here is the truth: the costs incurred by the business owner will be passed onto the consumer — bye bye happy meals and dollar menus. The other course of action is that full time equivalent employment will decrease and part time positions will grow. And in the worst-case scenario, small businesses and franchisees just go out of business. And we haven’t even mentioned the other healthcare costs and regulatory costs that many of these business owners are fighting. That however matters little to those furthering the political agenda of income inequality. Unions just want to bolster their depleting rolls.
And as I brought out in a recent op-ed for Townhall, if the federal government REALLY cared about the minimum wage, perhaps they should start with our own military. Consider that a new enlisted troop makes less than $20,000 a year and you know they have families. It’s a sad indictment on our nation when a young warrior must be on government subsistence for food in order to take care of his family. You want to talk about fairness?
Maybe our military needs a union? Nah, just kidding, they do what they do to serve our nation, not fat cat bosses — although there are some countries whose military does have union representation. We don’t need that.
We’ll be hearing lots about higher minimum wages in the coming months. But it should be a discussion based on good policy and merit, not just political agendas — which sadly it seems that the latter dominates.
My first minimum wage job and the second at Sears weren’t furthering my career goals. They were the building blocks upon which I could build my ultimate dream — becoming a college graduate and a U.S. Army Officer. It is the same with our oldest daughter Aubrey, whose sights are set on becoming a specialized Physicians Assistant. Her minimum wage positions have enabled her to grow in being a responsible adult, completing her undergraduate studies, gaining real life medical experience, and in two years we pray completion of a graduate degree study.
That is what the opportunity society advances — the equality of opportunity to fulfill one’s dream. The dependency society relegates us to an equality of outcomes by way of social egalitarianism. It equates a college educated future medical professional to a high school dropout French-fryer. We are not equal in our talents, capabilities, and capacities. And we should not be manipulated by clever politicians into believing we are.
It is imperative that we break the modern chains of economic enslavement and free the indomitable American entrepreneurial spirit that promotes individual economic freedom and empowerment. That is the essence of the pursuit of happiness.
Do not partake of the poisonous Kool-aid suggestion that government can guarantee happiness.