The minimum wage charade

September 19, 2013
Gordon Mullin

Gordon Mullin

OPINION by GORDON MULLIN

Both chambers of the California state legislature recently passed the largest increase in the minimum wage in decades and the Governor promises to sign the bill. The claim by supporters is that the raise will make workers at the bottom of the pay scale better off. I say it will do just the opposite. Here’s why.

Under AB 10, the hourly minimum wage would increase to $8.25 in 2014, $8.75 in 2015 and $9.25 in 2016. Beginning in 2017, the minimum wage would be adjusted annually according to the rate of inflation. There would be no changes in years in which inflation was negative. This will give the State of California the top spot on the USA minimum wage list, a story of pride claimed by supporters. But as we shall see, this is bad news for those at the bottom.

Just to put our discussion in some perspective, here’s a couple of stats from the federal Department of Labor. The unemployment rate in America for those over 16 is 7.3 percent. However, the unemployment rate for folks between the ages of 16 to 19, 22.7 percent; for Blacks, 16 and over 13.5 percent; for Hispanics 16 and over, 9.3 percent; for those with less than high school education, 11.3 percent. Imagine what the unemployment is for a black kid without a high school education. I’ve see estimates as high as 50 percent in our inner cities.

And what is the single, most important gift we can give to these people? Answer – a job. Any job. A job where they have to show up on time, learn to treat the customer with respect and fulfill the requests of their employer. A place to get started and a place to learn one of life’s most important skills.

Keep in mind there are currently 1,299,000 unemployed folks, says the Deptartment of labor, who have never, ever had a job before. Here’s the question we all must ask ourselves – who’s going to hire these folks with the minimum wage above $10?

Understandably, we all would like to see every worker get a great wage but it doesn’t matter what you and I think, what matters is what an employer thinks. And employers think and act just as we would do if we were in that situation. If they can hire a worker for $X, and by doing so that extra employee will bring in X plus something, he or she will be hired. And if the state mandates that an employer must pay $9 an hour, an employer will not create any new job which he cannot make nine or more additional dollars. Actually, it more like 12 to 14 dollars more given the mandatory benefits and payroll taxes that normally accompany an hourly salary.

In short, by raising the minimum wage, the state will insure that all those jobs which pay below the minimum wage, which would have been generated, will not be created. And the most likely recipient of those jobs would have been the young, the uneducated, and the minority kid but now they won’t have access to them because they won’t exist.

It is just those people who we claim we want to help who will in fact be the ones who will be paying the price because those entry level jobs will not be created and they will stay unemployed with all the social dysfunction that goes with it.

I know many proponents of higher minimum wage laws say that it’s a small amount of increase and it won’t affect the number of jobs and the press will easily find workers currently in low wage positions who think it’s a great idea if their wages go up. In fact, what we don’t know and we cannot discover is the number of jobs that would have been created if the wage level had not gone up. How do you count the number of jobs that were never created? You can’t.

The truth is that the majority of workers who are at the bottom will not stay there for long. Keep in mind only 2 percent of workers fall into the minimum wage category and the vast majority of them will not be at that wage scale within one years’ time. They will (hopefully) have learned how to be useful employees and can command an increase in wages beyond what they started with. I know for that’s where I started and you probably did too.

The next time you hear someone advocating that a bump in the minimum wage will not affect anyone’s job ask them, if that’s true, why don’t we just raise the floor to, say, $25 an hour. How about $50. In my experience, you will not receive an answer for all know it would be the death of any economy and hence a foolish notion. That said, for the same reasoning, a small bump, which only applies to those at the bottom will, by definition concentrate the harm on, again, the under-educated, the young and the minorities.

Finally, we should not be mandating the business community to also create a floor on incomes; it’s not their role. Businesses already fulfill an enormously valuable role in our society by their creation of goods and services, for which we should all be grateful. Commerce also creates wealth, jobs and income, together five of the most important contributions to our society. Why burden them with this additional, dysfunctional mandate?

If you really are concerned about creating jobs for the unemployed, the undereducated, minority youth, write your state Senator or Assemblymen and tell them to stop killing the opportunities for an entry level job for those most in need. These are the people who most need our help yet with this legislation we have abandoned them.

FYI our Assemblyman, Katcho Achadjian, voted no to the bill and our Senator, Bill Monning voted yes.

Gordon Mullin is a resident of SLO.

 


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50 Comments

  1. obispan says:

    Just to be clear, Mr. Mullin opposed the $2.30 and $2.65/hr wages I worked at as a teenager living at home just as he opposes the current minimum wage which is less and now required to be a head of household job. If $10/hr is the same as $50 or $100 in principle, sure, let’s let wages fall to $3/hr, watch people fill them (ha, ha), and enjoy the societal benefits (ha, ha). The GOP/Brandenberg Group’s model is Brazil. They have determined that there is no benefit to an 95% unnecessary, self-entitled middle class. Only the very rich and the very poor. Didn’t see any GOP tears as meat packers compensation dropped 75% as they were all, and I mean ALL, replaced with immigrant labor (labor is a free market commodity). Same with the construction industry. Middle class wages have plummeted, this is good! And we can blame it on the liberals who are destroying American business, which would delight in prospering for the purpose of enriching their worker’s lives. Only GOP complaints are when we give the new, more efficient workers driver’s licenses to safely get to their jobs as that might increase labor flexibility and increase costs.

    (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
  2. Slowerfaster says:

    Gordon Mullin should attempt to live on $1,600 a month, for a little while at least, and THEN he might have some credibility to bellyache about impending ruin.
    I doubt it, though.
    His “sky is falling” jeremiad is just another specious example of repeated right-wing propaganda churned out by the Heritage Foundation, the US Chamber of Commerce, the Club for Growth, the Koch brothers, the babblespeak of Faux Noise and the blithering morons on AM radio, and various other billion dollar front groups funded by Wall Street and corporate crooks.

    These institutions, individuals, and their fellow traveler keyboard crusaders ( like the author here ) deny facts just as they reject science.

    Brother Ted …I have no idea whether Mullin is a Christian or claims to be one, but it really does not matter.
    One would have to be human first.

    (4) 12 Total Votes - 8 up - 4 down
  3. Niles Q says:

    You speak like someone who has never owned a business that actually pays minimum wages. Are you a Poly prof because you talk a good theorhetical game but must lack experience in the real world.
    The types of businesses you mention are food industry and service jobs. I would argue that those are by necessity labor-intensive industries to begin with, so they need lots of employees to provide the services their industries call for.
    There is a certain amount of work to be done and you need a certain number of people to do that work, therefore, I’d argue that these businesses won’t lose employees because they have to give them a raise, or start new employees at a slightly higher rate.
    No, they will simply add a few cents to the cost of a Coke, or a Big Mac or they will absorb or pass on the increases some other way.
    But just in case you might be partially right about this, I would suggest a totally different approach. Instead of increasing wages that then get passed on to consumers, why can’t the government reduce or just outright eliminate income taxes for people making minimum wages?
    Frankly, if you’re making less than $20,000 a year, you really aren’t getting ahead. You may not be under the feds’ poverty line, but in reality at that income, you ain’t too far above it. Especially in an expensive state like California.
    One good thing, raising the minimum wage would put more money in people’s hands to spend, and believe me, if you make min wages, you spend every penny just to survive and keep a roof over your head.
    And it would ripple through the economy and spread the wealth.
    As for the young high school drop outs, why would one of these guys need a job? They are probably dealing drugs or some other nefarious activities and making a ton more money.
    You argue against raising the min wage to save potential jobs for these people when in reality these jobs are being taken up more and more by illegal immigrants. Go into any fast food place, except maybe In-n-Out Burgers, and you don’t find teenagers working their first jobs. You find illegals working their third job of the day.
    Or they’ve got a kid or two and are on welfare living in subsidized housing. Why work? They’d have to talke a pay cut if they got a job…

    (6) 8 Total Votes - 7 up - 1 down
  4. r0y says:

    It would not be the first time that really bad progressive ideas hurt the very groups they claim to want to help. Not by a long shot.

    (-17) 33 Total Votes - 8 up - 25 down
    • Slowerfaster says:

      Name one.

      Just ONE ‘really bad progressive idea” and who this idea was intended to help, but instead hurt.
      Explain yourself. Be specific.

      (5) 7 Total Votes - 6 up - 1 down
      • Ted Slanders says:

        Brother Slowerfaster,

        Ain’t going to happen! Roy already ran from my followup post to his down below, like a scalded dog. Why? Because there was FACT and LOGIC involved, as it is in your post, therefore, don’t expect to hear from him anytime soon.

        (4) 6 Total Votes - 5 up - 1 down
  5. willieslo says:

    To give a more vivid picture
    Lets accelerate the slow subtle affects
    What if minimum wage was raised to $20 now?!

    (13) 19 Total Votes - 16 up - 3 down
    • isoslo says:

      I agree Willie. Let’s jack up the minimum wage to whatever they want. Then they will all be arguing to up it again because the cost of everything is so high that they cannot live on the minimum. All whilst the government tells us that inflation is only 1.6%.

      There will always be people at the bottom. If you change what amount those people make, everything will adjust so that they stay at the bottom. The only way for those people is leave the bottom is to better themselves and personally advance.

      (-12) 20 Total Votes - 4 up - 16 down
  6. Ted Slanders says:

    .
    MR. MULLIN QUOTE: “The next time you hear someone advocating that a bump in the minimum wage will not affect anyone’s job ask them, if that’s true, why don’t we just raise the floor to, say, $25 an hour.”

    Conversely, the next time Mr. Mullin hears someone not advocating a bump in the minimum wage, then if he is an alleged Christian, he should actually READ the bible where it states with specificity that one is to help in every way to take care of your fellow man. Believe it or not, we’re all in this economy and taking care of each other together as a nation, and especially if you call yourself a Christian.

    MR. MULLIN QUOTE: “The truth is that the majority of workers who are at the bottom will not stay there for long.”

    What a blasphemous comment! Jesus doesn’t care if these workers are at the bottom for only one day or many, give them a worthy wage for themselves and/or family to live at least a respectable living until they are able to move forward.

    Christians, it’s about time you READ YOUR BIBLES FOR A CHANGE and accomplish what the bible tells you to do in relation to helping your fellow man, and in this respect, with a decent minimum wage!

    “Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.” (Psalm 82:3)

    “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.” (Proverbs 19:17)

    Jesus said: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. Protect the rights of all who are helpless.” ( Proverbs 31:8)

    “For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I COMMAND YOU, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’ (Deuteronomy 15:11)

    Jesus said; “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? ( Luke 6:46) Therefore, if Christians don’t do what Jesus/God tells them, as in relation to the above passages, they become hypocrites, and we all know what Jesus thought of hypocrites, don’t we?! (Matthew 6:2, Matthew 6:5, Matthew 6:16, Matthew 7:5)

    If you’re an alleged Christian and don’t believe in helping the needy in the work force, then remove yourself from your Christian beliefs post haste because you DO NOT deserve to be called true Christians in any way whatsoever!

    Always remember, WWJD?

    (24) 54 Total Votes - 39 up - 15 down
    • Ted Slanders says:

      To the pseudo-christian “thumbs down” crowd to my post above, I proffer the following;

      “If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.”

      ― Stephen Colbert

      (24) 34 Total Votes - 29 up - 5 down
      • r0y says:

        Of course like many progressives who have been poisoned with the concept of “social” justice (as opposed to just “justice”), you seem to be implying that Christians must help the poor collectively.

        This is not only a slippery slope, but a very incorrect interpretation of Christ’s teachings. This is not surprising coming from you, Ted. Christ’s commandments apply to each of us individually, and He saves us individually. We are individually saved through Him, and not collectively, as some others who have also perverted His words would like to believe.

        A person will NEVER be saved because a state mandates something.

        (-18) 34 Total Votes - 8 up - 26 down
        • Ted Slanders says:

          r0y,

          Let’s do some simple biblical math in that the Christian is to follow the teachings of Jesus, period! It matters not to the individuals that are not Christians, because they’re going to hell.

          Since Jesus is the number one “socialist”, I am sorry to use that scary word to a conservative Christian to ruin their day, really, but if one is going to call them self a Christian, then they have no choice whatsoever in NOT following Jesus’ teachings!

          Remember this Jesus “socialist” comment? Sure you do. Jesus stated: Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

          Jesus also said; “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10: 21-25)

          The above direct words of Jesus’ “redistribution of personal wealth” is Utopian Socialism in action. Do you know more than Jesus in this respect and example? No? I didn’t think so.

          Of course you know of the the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, don’t you? “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life”. (Matthew 25:31-46)

          For your further enlightenment of actually being a TRUE Christian within the topic in question, read Matthew 4:23, 9:35, 17:14, Mark 7:31, 8:22, and John 9:1-41. You can thank me later.

          The bottom line is that a mixed economy of capitalism and Social Democracy is the appropriate and moral basis of a successful nation, even though Jesus would disagree on the capitalism part!

          It’s hard being a Christian if you actually read and follow the bible, isn’t it?

          (19) 25 Total Votes - 22 up - 3 down
          • r0y says:

            Of course you completely left out the fact that Jesus ASKED one to redistribute their wealth. Jesus never confiscated. Never said “let Caesar do it” either.

            Next.

            (-17) 27 Total Votes - 5 up - 22 down
            • Ted Slanders says:

              0y,

              I don’t think you’ve noticed, but your refutation was very weak and it was grasping for the proverbial straws. It seems as though you were blind-sided by the scriptures that I presented, and that you probably didn’t even knew existed. To coin your term, This is not surprising coming from you.

              Jesus’ caveat of the redistribution of wealth was the FACT of treasure in heaven, remember? If one doesn’t follow this edict, then they can’t follow Jesus as fully described. Therefore, your weak notion of Jesus allegedly “asking” is counter-productive to His teachings in this respect, especially since He stated with specificity within the same context, to wit: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46)

              Put it in perspective, if Jesus told you to do something in a godly way, would you not do it because of the ramifications of swimming in the sulfur lakes of Hell upon your demise? I think not.

              Your comical notion of Jesus never confiscating, and the Caesar reference, is another vain attempt of interjecting a red herring into the conversation to steer clear from the actual FACTS of Jesus’ teachings. Save that child like scenario for your like minded cohorts that are equally ignorant of the scriptures.

              Seriously, do you really want a “next time?”

              (17) 23 Total Votes - 20 up - 3 down
              • jrstone says:

                Ted,
                I am a Christian, a man saved by Grace, not of works lest any man should boast… but….

                I understand the hesitation by those like rOy, I understand the general conception of some people of the hypocrisy of our churches, of how they say one thing and do another and how that example is practiced by the large part of their congregation(s).

                As you all know I am houseless (thought was over but that’s another story for another time) and I have approached local churches in a very direct way in helping me to obtain a place to rent. I have left a flyer about myself (my situation, my ability to pay rent and how much, local reference, etc.) in the offering plates of four different churches here in town and handed one directly to a minister of another. I have not received one response, no, not one!

                With very some catchy Christian names like Mercy and Grace none have shown either (I guess Mercy is only shown to those of their congregation and Grace after all isn’t unwarranted and or unmerited favor but earned in some way).

                My point? You cannot expect an individual Christian to respond to any of these situations in a WWJD attitude when that is almost completely devoid in our Churches. Where there is no example, where there is no action and no evidence of Faith through works by our Church leaders then there is no WWJD attitude in the Body of Christ, i.e. the Church!

                “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” Matthew 23:27

                “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.” James 3:1

                Christ Himself would be scorned, ridiculed and most definitely rejected by 99% of the Christian Churches out there if He would show up at their doorsteps today.

                (9) 9 Total Votes - 9 up - 0 down
                • Ted Slanders says:

                  jrstone,

                  I am truly sorry for your plight, and for the pseudo-christian churches that are not helping you in the way that they should if they actually followed the teachings of Christ, as shown in the aforementioned passages in my initial post.

                  But, for the most part, said churches have grown into venues of social clubs, where they are spoon fed their doctrine by their pastors and priests, whose Sunday sermons are given to them from the head church of their particular division of Christianity.

                  Therefore, the passages, narratives, doctrine, and edicts that I bring forth to prove my points here at CCN, are hardly known, or not known at all by 99.99 percent of the hypocritical Christian community. Case in point, Roy’s very weak refutation relative to the teachings of Jesus, and of which the TRUE Christian is to follow without any doubt whatsoever!

                  I am somewhat apprehensive to point the following biblical fact out to you, but one is saved through works AND faith. Call is just another biblical contradiction, or whatever, but it too resides within the “inspired by God” Judeo-Christian bible, so it must be true.

                  “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” ( James 2:14-24)

                  I wish you well in getting the tax exempt divisions of Christian churches to help you in a godly way as they are directed to do by none other than their leader, Jesus the Christ.

                  (6) 8 Total Votes - 7 up - 1 down
        • zaphod says:

          The christian nationalists and dominionists who are funding anti democratic actions around the world love you!
          the civil rights mandate saved our society from market based chattel slavery and triangle trade eh?

          (18) 22 Total Votes - 20 up - 2 down
  7. swmut says:

    The reason the drop out rates are so high is mostly because older students need to help out a family mostly comprised of minimum wage earners.

    Honestly, I do not see how a head of household job making less then even $15/hour can support a family with more than 1 child. Especially if that job does not include health benefits…which very few do.

    (4) 14 Total Votes - 9 up - 5 down
    • isoslo says:

      You really think the drop outs are worried about their families? It is a nice thought but totally unsupported by any evidence. There is is long list of reasons why some drop out and I’m sure your reason is on the list, but I am also sure it is towards the bottom.

      (6) 16 Total Votes - 11 up - 5 down
  8. Datacloud says:

    When an employer pays an employee minimum wage, what the employer is effectively saying is: “I would pay you less, but it’s not legal to do so.”

    I’m not sure I agree with the contention that if employers have to pay entry-level workers more money, they simply won’t create the job. If the business wants to remain stagnant and static, perhaps that’s true, but businesses don’t exist to resist growth. If a business wants to grow, their workforce needs to grow along with it. If a business is operating with such a small profit margin that they can’t afford to pay workers more, they’re likely not going to succeed anyhow, at least not in the long term. As for benefits, I believe the majority of minimum wage workers are part-time, and therefore not mandated to receive additional benefits, but I could be wrong about that last bit.

    I also agree that higher wages contribute to a more productive, and certainly happier workforce, which reduces turnover, which in itself is a costly process. Keeping your workers and paying them a little more is cheaper than losing them and having to hire new ones.

    (22) 42 Total Votes - 32 up - 10 down

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