Caring Enough to Say NO to Minimum Wage Madness

Terry Paulson

1/13/2014 12:01:00 AM - Terry Paulson

Son: Just when I start to think Republicans might be right about Obamacare, they show once again that the only citizens they care about are the rich! The gap between the rich and the poor in this country keeps growing, and they won't even support increasing the minimum wage.

Dad: Do you know why?

Son: Greed! They don't want to pay more. They're just looking out for themselves!

Dad: As economist Thomas Sowell observed, ”I have never understood why it is 'greed' to keep the money you have earned, but not 'greed' to try to take somebody else's money." Sure, most people want to keep more of what they've earned. After all, the top 10% of earners already pay over 70% of the income taxes.

Son: They can afford it.

Dad: Many high earners own small companies which are struggling in this economy. With higher healthcare costs, a higher minimum wage just adds costs and cuts profits.

Son: They're still wealthy.

Dad: Wealth can disappear as fast as it's celebrated. If business profits take a major drop, would you have that minimum wage rolled back?

Son: Of course not!

Dad: Now, you know one of the reasons the GOP doesn't support minimum wage increases or higher taxes. They rarely come down once raised. But it's more than just higher taxes. When small businesses have to pay more to entry workers, they hire fewer workers, use more automation, or even move operations elsewhere.

Son: That's happening anyway.

Dad: This just accelerates that at a time more and more people are having trouble finding jobs. Most economists agree; a minimum wage increase creates more unemployment.

Son: You can't live on a minimum wage job.

Dad: You're not supposed to. Many receiving minimum wage are young people who live with their parents. Most are part of multi-income households. Just over 10% of the people making minimum wage live in households below the poverty line. Such entry-level jobs serve as a proving ground for a worker's value. If you do a great job, serve the customer, apply yourself, and learn new skills, you're likely to be promoted or move to another better paying job.

Son: Not everyone gets a better job.

Dad: Good jobs are earned. Studies document that Americans still move between classes over time. Half of the world's population lives on less than $2.50 a day. Our poor live in comparative luxury. We're so fortunate to live in America. Immigrants from all over risk everything to get into this land of opportunity. Many come with minimal language competency and skills, but they come willing to take any job to prove themselves. When people are motivated and work hard, they can better their position. But when you keep raising their pay for doing a low-skill job, you're rewarding them to settle instead of aspiring to something better.

Son: I've heard your message before--you care enough to say NO!

Dad: I want more for you and for all Americans. President John Quincy Adams said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

Son: The poor need help, not just inspiring leaders.

Dad: Americans have always been willing to help within limits. But since Lyndon Johnson, we've fought a very expensive war on poverty by providing more services, starting more entitlements, and taxing the successful to pay for these programs. If it had worked and we had fewer in poverty, I might feel differently. But the poor remain, and we are left with a bloated government that can't control its spending and have citizens more dependent on big government. That spending is resulting in a debt YOUR generation is going to have to pay for, and they won't be able to do that by settling for a higher minimum wage. You've had many minimum wage jobs, but now you are home from college. Do you want to go from college to a minimum wage job?

Son: Of course not. I've worked hard to get a career that'll earn more. I have loans to pay off.

Dad: Then you better hope that government starts letting Americans keep more of their hard-earned money to invest in ways that create new companies, new innovations, new careers, and more wealth to keep the American Dream alive.

Son: Why would the rich invest their money to do that?

Dad: Because they always have when they can keep most of the rewards earned. The American Dream is built on self-interest, free enterprise, innovation, and superior products and service. Our Founding Fathers, by believing in the potential of free citizens, unleashed the greatest economic power in history. Giving anyone a raise they don't deserve isn't caring; it's demeaning. When we let any citizen minimize their own potential and settle for government support, we not only limit them; we limit this country. It's time to stop creating dependency and start celebrating achievement.

Son: Guess this isn't the time to ask you for more money.

Dad: You're getting smarter.