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Opening Arguments

Two editorial pages in one

Juxtaposition of the day. From the New York Times editorial page, Jan. 14, 1987:

The Federal minimum wage has been frozen at $3.35 an hour for six years. In some states, it now compares unfavorably even with welfare benefits available without working. It's no wonder then that Edward Kennedy, the new chairman of the Senate Labor Committee, is being pressed by organized labor to battle for an increase.

No wonder, but still a mistake. Anyone working in America surely deserves a better living standard than can be managed on $3.35 an hour. But there's a virtual consensus among economists that the minimum wage is an idea whose time has passed. Raising the minimum wage by a substantial amount would price working poor people out of the job market.

From the New York Times editorial page, Feb. 19, 2014:

More than 16 million low-wage workers, now making as little as $7.25 an hour, would directly benefit from the increase, the report said. Another eight million workers making slightly more than the minimum would probably also get raises, because of the upward “ripple effect” of an increase. That would add $31 billion to the paychecks of families ranging from poverty level to the middle class, significantly increasing their spending power and raising the nation’s economic output and overall income.

[. . .]

Those benefits to millions of low-wage workers overwhelmingly outweigh the questionable possibility of job losses. Lawmakers who focus only on the potential downside of an enormously beneficial policy change are the same ones who never wanted to do it in the first place.


Rebecca Mallory
Fri, 02/21/2014 - 8:41am

"It is not the employer who pays wages," wrote Henry Ford. "Employers only handle the money. It is the consumer who pays the wages."

An unseen consequence of  increased minimum wage is inflationary pressure. Inflation reduces the purchasing power of all consumers including those who receive a minimum wage increase.

Fri, 02/21/2014 - 2:54pm

And where does that inflationary pressure come from? Greedy business that won't eat the increased cost and always pass it on to the consumer as if a God given right to do so. Who do I pass my increased costs onto when the utility companies get another rate increase?

Another quote from Hnery Ford:  "Profits made out of the distress of the people are always much smaller than profits made out of the most lavish service of the people at the lowest prices that competent management can make possible"

Rebecca Mallory
Sat, 02/22/2014 - 5:10am

Joe, maybe business can repeal the laws of economics to make you happy.

But- until that happens- comforting words from that great unionist, Samuel Gompers: The worst crime against working people is a company which fails to operate at a profit.

Sat, 02/22/2014 - 3:00pm

You mean that law that states profit margins must always expand and never contract?

Another quote from Mr. Gompers: "The man who has his millions will want everything he can lay his hands on and then raise his voice against the poor devil who wants ten cents more a day."

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/s/samuelgomp205272.html#qew4wlTQTyg1zC8d.99