Out of all the talking points, disputes and debates that color the political spectrum, the argument for not just increasing, but doubling the minimum wage has become the bellwether in a cross-section of partisan circles.
Raising the minimum wage is a given, especially among Democrats as demonstrated by the recent Raise the Wage Act vote in the House of Representatives. The ballot was practically unanimous along party lines for “increasing the federal minimum from $7.50 to $15, while indexing additional increases to median wage growth.”
As to how quickly the minimum wage should be raised brings with it an avalanche of attitude. The issue, however, lies more in line with semantics. Too often than not, many confuse the minimum wage with a livable wage, just as many Christians confuse God’s unconditional love with His generous gift of salvation.
How is that for broaching the forbidden trifecta of politics, religion and money within the first 100-words?
Not to be left out, Gov. Tom Wolf said a $7.25 minimum wage is “perpetuating the cycle of poverty throughout Pennsylvania.” Wolf has proposed raising the minimum to $12 with a 50-cent annual wage increase until reaching $15 an hour by 2025.
Evidentially, Wolf didn’t read the account by the Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office (PIFO), which has its residency in the shadow of the state capital complex in Harrisburg. The PIFO’s report underscored that by increasing the minimum wage to $12/hour, it would jettison nearly 34,000 jobs while simultaneously increasing the cost of goods and services.
Perhaps even more discouraging is that the PIFO’s prediction that 30,000 of those who would lose their jobs are the same minimum wage workers Wolf believes will be helped – making their new minimum wage – zero.
According to Wolf, apparently record low unemployment and a growing economy aren’t enough to help those who need it most. When politicians want to raise the minimum wage, they purposely bamboozle, manipulate and redefine their verbiage that intentionally confuses the desired “livable wage” with the “minimum wage.”
Each time the issue is regurgitated, all the old political divides surface like a starving shark on sabbatical from the shoal. However, statistical facts like starving sharks, do not lie or care about one’s feelings or passions. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a paltry 0.28 percent of the 156 million employed earned the federal minimum last year.
Meanwhile, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said an increase in the minimum would cost 1.3 million jobs. Moreover, it would also “reduce business income and raise prices” as companies pass on higher labor costs to consumers.
It is certainly no myth that few people earn the minimum, which is primarily for entry-level, part time, unskilled workers. If you are trying to earn a living by working for the minimum of wages, then your situation runs much deeper than any piece of federal or state legislation can resolve.
If Wolf is serious about improving the outlook and increasing the wages of the state’s workforce he could start by convincing lawmakers that lowering taxes and reforming regulation and licensing would attract more businesses to the state.
Every time I see the growing skyline of Jersey City and Hoboken, New Jersey, which sits across the Hudson River from Manhattan, I am reminded of this. So should Democratic presidential contender and New York City Mayor, Bill deBlasio, but like Wolf, he can’t see the city through the buildings.
More businesses bring a greater demand for labor, which means less competition and increased wages for all and where talk of the minimum wage becomes irrelevant.
It is a two-punch combination when government forces businesses to increase their wages: It kills entry-level jobs and escalates the cost of living. It also harms workers and small businesses, our nation’s largest employers.
To sidestep increases, company’s outsource or in the case of McDonald’s throughout Seattle, Washington, install self-service kiosks. Kiosks don’t need to be trained, aren’t tempted to steal, don’t call off sick, can’t argue with other staff or customers, and they certainly don’t need health insurance.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has no plans for the Senate to vote on the Raise the Wage Act before next November’s election.
Pennsylvania needs to follow McConnell’s lead.