Rethinking Minimum Wages
by James Glaser
March 5, 2014
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It seems as though those on the Left want a blanket raise of minimum wage for everyone working a job, while those on the right think any wage increase will result in job losses. But like a lot of things in life, I think the answer is somewhere in the middle.

Last week I was thinking about this and when I was getting my oil changed, I asked the garage owner if he had any minimum wage workers, and he said he had two. I then asked if the minimum wage went up would he keep them employed. The man gave it some thought and said a small increase would make no difference to him, but if they raise it more than a dollar or so he would cut hours until the two workers' earnings stayed the same.

He went on to explain that his two minimum wage workers were producing no income for him. They kept the place clean and organized, which he and his wife had done in the past. So, in essence, he hired them to give them a job and to make his life easier. Another way of looking at it is he is sharing some of his income with those two workers. They don't increase his income. People do this same thing when they hire a lawn service or snow removal service for their home.

I know Democrats will never believe this, but there are tens of thousands of small and large business owners in America who hire people just to give them a job. All my growing up life my dad hired a guy who really didn't have the ability to get a job anyplace else. He was a nice man, but not very bright, and that first rung of the ladder my dad put him on was the only step up he would ever be making.

Many carpenters I know end up hiring others to do work on their house when they have a long-term job going. No, they don't pay scale, but they do put money in the pocket of out-of-work carpenters. When I was building up North, I would always hire people to do construction clean-up. And I always paid a bit over minimum wage, but if it would have cost me much more I would have been doing it myself after hours and on weekends. In fact, I did that for many years.

Yes, we should raise minimum wage for workers who have a skill that produces income for their employer. Sadly, many skilled workers are screwed over by their employers who keep them at a low wage for years, and yes, and I think that is wrong. That's where the two-tiered scale solution comes in. There would be a second tier for the person who worked a job full time or close to full time for 6 months, and the employer wanted to keep him on because he had learned a skill on the job, a skill that will help the business, then that worker deserves to and should move up to that second-tier minimum wage scale.

One blanket, minimum wage increase is going to cost hundreds of thousands of jobs nation-wide. You see, some employers will stop hiring people with no job history and only take on people with experience, and the way unemployment is now that would be easy. Consider the millions of senior citizens who can't make it on their retirement income so those part-time jobs give them the money to enjoy life more, but let's face it, if that minimum wage scale doubles, many of those part-time jobs will be gone, and our seniors will suffer.

Like the man who owns the garage where I got my oil changed, he will just cut the low-rung employees' hours, or maybe he will put that money he pays his clean-up people back in his own pocket and let them go.

We don't need another five hundred thousand to a million jobs removed from our nation's employment rolls. What we need is an employment environment where young workers can take a low paying job, knowing that just six months down the road, if they learn that skill and work hard, they will get a substantial pay increase. We also need a job market that allows people without skills or abilities to work for a minimum wage that won't break the bank of the small business person.

The answer to this issue is not all the way on either end of the argument. It is where so many answers in life can be found, right down the middle.

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