Of the many, many policies of liberals that defy economic common sense, the continual hue and cry for increasing the minimum wage is perhaps the most stunningly counterintuitive. Now, they want to more than double it from $7.25 an hour to $15, and claim that not only will this not cost jobs, it may lure some back into the workforce (those who have dropped out because of the current hopelessness of liberal botching of the recovery – which, of course, they don’t mention).
The main complaint seems to be that no one could be expected to live on $7.25 an hour, and they’re right. Minimum wage jobs are what economists call “entry level” jobs – as in what you do to establish that you are capable of showing up on time, completing a shift without stealing anything, and performing menial labor, requiring no experience, no skill, and no education (apart from what the company gives you to operate whatever you are supposed to operate). These are the jobs that give you the basis to look for your first real job.
Wrapping burgers in foil and putting them in sacks, or punching numbers on a cash register, or filling the soda machine are not careers, they are bottom-rung jobs that command bottom-rung wages. If the fast-food industry, or whatever minimum wage industry in which you find yourself, interests you, there are opportunities to advance within the chain, or with other similar outlets, but that just reinforces the concept of entry level, minimum wage jobs. If you prove more valuable to the company than flipping burgers, they will offer you a better job at better pay. That’s how the job market works.
Paying $15 an hour for a no-skill, no-experience, no-education job would put that worker at the level of biologists, auto mechanics, biochemists, teachers, geologists, roofers and bank tellers; more than some police officers; they would out-earn many firefighters. Fast food workers with starting salaries higher than many professional chefs is just silly. These are highly skilled jobs that require years of training and education. These are jobs which, in some cases, our society profoundly relies upon. Jobs with enormous responsibilities. Jobs that are considerably more complex and complicated than refilling the soda fountain at Roy Rogers. The idea that you could stroll into Hardee’s and be immediately rewarded with a salary higher than crane operators and medical lab technicians is devoid of sanity. Sure, as a human being, you’re priceless. As a child of God, you’re precious, a work of art, a freaking miracle. But your job wrapping hamburgers in foil and putting them in paper bags – that has a price tag, and the price tag ain’t anywhere close to the one our economy and society puts on teachers and mechanics. Don’t like it? You shouldn’t. It’s fast food. It’s menial. It’s mindless. It’s not supposed to be a career. It’s not supposed to be a living. An entry-level position, making roast beef sandwiches at Arby’s isn’t meant to be something you do for 26 years.
If your answer is to raise all other salaries commensurately, then you need be honest with the people and tell them that what you want to do is to make everything more expensive, and reduce the total number of jobs available. You want to lower the standard of living for everyone (including the now $15 an hour entry level people, who will find themselves right where they are today – not making enough to support a family). And God knows how many businesses you would drive into bankruptcy, putting all their employees out of work.
We get that liberals want to redistribute income, be it corporate or personal, but in order to justify their methodology, they engage in charmingly childish fiction – that doubling the wages of bottom-rung employees will not result in fewer bottom-rung jobs. It’s an economic fact that if you tax something – like bottom-rung jobs – you will get fewer of them. Price affects demand. A doubling of the price of something will affect demand for it. And doubling the price of something of low value will most certainly affect the demand for it. CBO estimates that a $15 minimum wage would cost ~500-thousand existing jobs, obviously making it harder for young people to enter the workforce (as opposed to the labor force, which they enter at age 16). Fewer job holders, more job seekers.
That our non-recovery finds a lot of over-qualified people in minimum wage jobs while there are jobs going asking, is a function of people not being qualified for the jobs that are available. This is not the fault of “the economy,” it’s the fault of parents, our schools and people being “too cool for school” when they are there.