Thursday, September 17, 2015

Again...what NO ONE ELSE is saying!

Here we go again...the minimum wage...the federal minimum wage...again, there have been recent demonstrations by various factions (unions) demanding a $15 an hour federal minimum wage for all, but specifically fast food workers. Again...various factions (business) say such a rapid increase would create a financial strain on businesses resulting in increased unemployment. It seems as though we go through this every few months or years and eventually, a bone gets thrown to the masses and they go away, at least temporarily.

The arguments are ALWAYS the same...maintaining the status quo in the face of inflation or the increased cost of living is unfair to workers who put in an honest days work...and raising the minimum wage will be a hardship for (especially small) businesses. One side says anyone who works a 40 hour week should be able to make enough to at least remain above the national poverty level...and the other says the minimum wage is for entry level, or unskilled, untrained labor who simply need to get their foot (feet) inside the door. Good arguments all...

But what about states and municipalities who have already increased their minimum wage? Doesn't this impact what the federal minimum wage should be? Maybe...but the federal minimum wage is simply a base. In fact, a very small percentage of workers earn the federal minimum wage, less than one percent actually. Again, one side might argue, however, without this "base," overall wages might be driven even lower...while the other says the free market dictates wages, and thus very few workers will actually earn the minimum.

So...what to do, what to do...schedule some federal minimum wage increases over the next few years? Perhaps half a buck an hour every year the next few years...therefore keeping the low income workers below the poverty level and in need of additional government assistance (and naturally future union representation)...AND at the same time allowing business(es) to believe they are not passing along the additional labor costs to the consumer. Then, we can go through this every few months for the next few years...

What if...what if we enacted some sort of "tiered" minimum wage law? The entry level employee would start at (at least) the basic federal minimum wage and thereafter, receive automatic boosts depending on length of employment and documented value to the employer (number of hours worked). Unfair, you say...because it might stifle employee mobility or create an atmosphere where an unscrupulous employer could take advantage of their most vulnerable employees? This would be simple enough to prevent...the federal government already monitors hours worked and where employees actually work. It would easy to monitor these factors and keep track of "if an employee maintains a baseline level of employment."

It couldn't work, right? Because business would balk at the additional responsibility of maintaining employee records and then having to pay higher wages...and government, well, government would naturally be averse to providing any kind of additional service with no direct benefit. On the contrary, business would be encouraged to maintain their employees through savings in training costs, etc. and government would be in line for higher taxes based on employee's higher wages...there could even be a benefit factored in whereby additional taxes paid by these higher income workers would be rebated to the businesses in question (perhaps a 50/50 split with the IRS).

But, isn't making government "bigger" always a problem? Won't conservatives be against anything which increases the size of government? Conversely, doesn't giving more power to the government and employers always come at the expense of the employee? Won't the unions be against something which takes power away from the worker? You're right...I guess the only answer is Bernie Sanders. Now, THAT'S something no one else is saying...yet...

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