Just in time for election season, hype over raising the federal minimum wage has mysteriously become of interest once again. As usual, the current focus on the minimum wage has absolutely nothing to do with helping out workers and everything to do with helping out politicians.
The political motivation comes down to Democrats proposing the hike only to force Republicans to oppose it. This tactic enables the Democrats to cast the Republicans as heartless, evil, meanies who hate poor people.
Remember that the last increases to the minimum wage were passed in early 2007 during the Bush administration. Now consider that later on, during two years of an unopposed Democratic supermajority, absolutely no increases in the minimum wage were passed. So just who is really heartless here? If raising minimum wage was such a priority for Democrats, why wasn’t it done when they were effectively unopposed for two years?
With less than 3% of all US workers earning minimum wage, and teenagers comprising nearly a third of that group, there are far larger economic concerns that should be getting attention. Both the track record and the actual numbers involved prove that the sudden interest in the minimum wage is nothing more than a political PR weapon.
Partisan antics aside, hiking the minimum wage during a time when wages are otherwise stagnant is also bad economic policy. The phony excuse for raising the minimum wage comes down to the current minimum not being a “living wage” sufficient to support a family.
Well, duh. The minimum wage was never intended to support a family, and common sense says that if you’re not making more than minimum wage, you probably shouldn’t start a family.
The valid argument against raising the minimum wage comes down to price vs. value of labor. There are workers out there whose labor is barely worth $7.25/hour who will simply no longer be employable if the minimum legal wage is raised to $10.00/hour. There are plenty of entry-level jobs out there that can be automated, consolidated, or eliminated for less than $10.00/hour.
Given the current economy, this is no time to even consider raising the minimum wage. Don’t buy the hype.