The year 2014 is shaping up to be the year of the $15 minimum wage. Fast food workers have continued picketing for increased wages, President Obama again asked for a wage hike in his state of the union address, and a major city is poised to implement a city-wide $15 wage ordinance. While I appreciate the opportunity to succeed and live without struggling to provide for one’s family, the whole minimum wage push has hit a nerve.
Allow me to get personal on the subject of living wages and righting income inequality. What irks me about this drive for a $15 minimum wage is workers are being duped into believing they are overburdened by working two minimum wage jobs by a union backed push to revive faltering private sector membership numbers. Two jobs that require them to work a total of 40 – 50 hours a week, but those hours just happen to be at two different companies. I’m sorry, but in the real world 40 or 50 hours a week is not the definition of two jobs. For as long as I can recall, 40 hours was the standard work week for a single job and the second job were those hours on top of that. The pandering to this hard done by set of workers may better serve to suggest that they work a third job to help make ends meet, instead of continually lowering the bar to celebrate mediocrity.
The reason this subject is personal to me is because I lost my job and struggled to make ends meet. Before I lost my job, both my wife and I worked 50 hours a week, which is about the norm for a single full time job these days. At this work load we were okay, but not well off. After losing my job, it became a struggle to make ends meet. Yes, I accepted unemployment benefits, but during that time I immediately began reassessing how to make up lost income while at the same time being the care provider for our child. My first job was establishing my blog and becoming a contributing writer for Patriot Update, Conservative Blog Central, and several Facebook groups – this was a 30 – 40 hour per week job. Next, I sought other opportunities, which resulted in obtaining my real estate license. This brought me to a work load of about 70 – 80 hours per week. As the weeks and months passed, I still needed to improve my income opportunities and I worked harder and established consulting opportunities in my previous line of work. Now, my work load has been brought near a 100 hours a week. I’m not going to lie, it’s hard and there are compromises that my family made on my behalf, which are difficult at times. My point is that I did not succumb to the mindset now being pushed on these workers that someone owes you something and you shouldn’t have to work more than 40 hours. As I said, doing so sets the bar low and ingrains a sense of victimhood and mediocrity.
Personal anecdotes aside, there are reasons why the $15 minimum wage push should raise red flags. While the left cries wolf suggesting that the right only spouts doom, gloom, and outright lies, they themselves misrepresent the facts. A recent Salon online article did just that. They claim that “more than 120 municipalities have living-wage ordinances for some or all workers.” Actually, only a small fraction (9 to be exact) actually require all workers to be covered. Most cities don’t extend the living wage to government employees (less than 40%). They require it only of public contracts so few businesses are actually affected. As noted in the article, these policies haven’t caused these cities to fall “into the sea,” but that’s because such costs can be deferred with borrowing and placed on the backs of the tax payer – whoops, this just in, Detroit went bankrupt by these very policies, borrowing until they burst. Also, the article cites Seattle-Tacoma International Airport as an example of how the $15 wage has not caused an economic implosion. What is not said is that the ordinance has not gone into effect for 75% of the affected workers because a Judge ordered a stay of its implementation. While certainly the doom and gloom is not present, the lack of bad news does not mean it is all roses.
There are other concerns. We have an immigration problem in this country and the left are certainly not going to acknowledge that in the push for $15 minimum wages. Immigrants are already enticed by current US wages searching for “‘El Sueno Americano,’ or the American Dream.” Wage disparities in their own countries drive immigrants north of the border with hopes of earning enough money in the US to provide for family back home. Increase the minimum wage here and there will be a larger vacuum sucking more immigrants north. What then becomes of the more than 23 million unemployed Americans?
Ironically, the left proclaim how the living wages will benefit the disadvantaged in our communities, yet you hear nary a peep when poor choices are made such as the one to prevent a Trader Joe’s from setting up shop in a historically black neighborhood. With high unemployment rates, you would think that the black community would be best served with the added jobs. Activists were concerned that the development would price black residents out of the area, saying in their letter to the city that the development would “increase the desirability of the neighborhood” for “non-oppressed populations.” Raising the minimum wage to $15 would do nothing to help if there are no jobs available. With no outrage, it’s obvious that the minimum wage increase is not about job creation and opportunity.
The left frame the problem as a living wage issue. That those at the bottom making minimum wage can’t live without the wage increase to $15. I say it is the unions who can’t live without the minimum wage hike since their numbers have been declining since the 50’s. Makes one think when the service industry unions are eager to work with fraudulent entities who back this movement supportive of the wage hike. Why not? Mobilizing the 1.6 million minimum wage workers presents an opportunity to boost those declining membership numbers.
To add insult to injury, in this country those on welfare find it stupid to work. Welfare recipients have a point when they can earn far more than the current minimum wage and, in some states, more than those in the middle-class. The CATO institute’s 2013 study illustrates how welfare benefits pay more than minimum wage in 33 states and even pays more than $15 per hour in 12 states and the District of Columbia. The high is in Hawaii at a pre-tax salary equivalent of $60,590 per year or $29.13 per hour. Why would you want to work for less with those welfare benefits? No wonder we have to bring the minimum wage up. It’s not for a living wage, it’s to make an out of control welfare system less enticing and help replenish the membership of the minimum wage advocate’s biggest support group.
That’s where I stand. If I haven’t offended you then I haven’t tried hard enough.