A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Raising the Minimum Wage: It's Complicated

Let me say at the outset that I support people making a living wage. As one who has dealt with the working poor, seeing people work very hard and yet hardly able to put food on the table for their children and provide them with even basic necessities, I say something is wrong with that situation and it needs to be fixed. But, knowing how complex our 21st century global economy has become, I don't think a single and simplistic solution will fix the problem.

In addition, I have had the privilege of being a pastor to more than a few small business owners over the years who make a middle class living and who do their best to treat their employees fairly, but whose businesses would sink with a $15.00 minimum wage. It's real easy to pick on the Walmarts of the world, but since most businesses are small businesses, more thought needs to be given to the impact such minimum wages will have on these "mom and pop" businesses whose profit margins don't come close to Walmart.

Having a $15.00 minimum wage sounds really good, but in the give and take of economic realities it will probably fail to give us ultimately what we hope for. On the other hand, when I hear others naively say that people should just work another job, I wonder why they are so callous as to deny those parents the family time with their children that their critics get to enjoy. As I said it's complicated.

Let me also hasten to add that I am not opposed to raising the minimum wage, but it needs to be done in concert with other things as well. If it is not, the minimum will have to be raised enough to have the desired effect, but it will be too high to have the desired effect.

There is an article in the New Republic (hardly a conservative journal) that offers alternatives to raising the minimum wage alone that have a better chance of achieving what many of us hope for-- a way of life for all that is not a precarious one from paycheck to paycheck.

I encourage you to read this very informative article here.
HT: Michael Kruse


Country Parson said...

A nation wide $15 minimum wage would have different effects in different regions, but it would return the wage to something approximating its purchasing power of several decades ago. Once I lobbied against any raises, and sometimes against a minimum at all. But a close examination of the claims that raises would have a disastrous effect on small business showed it was all made up; there was no evidence. In fact, it always seemed to go the other way round. Can it be too high? Undoubtedly. What I suggest is to index it so that it rises slowly without being made into a legislative football. In our community it isn't a high minimum that is hurting Mom&Pop, it's rents jacked up by landlords beyond what is reasonable for very small businesses.

Allan R. Bevere said...


Thanks for your comments.

In general I agree with you, and I think your comments demonstrate my point that there are other factors involved as well.

I agree in general with your comments that a raised minimum wage will not have disastrous effects if done correctly, but I also think your comments demonstrate my point that other things are important as well.

The problem, as I see it (I'm no economist or do I play one on TV) is that the cost of living in San Diego is much higher than it is in Akron, Ohio. I $15.00 minimum wage will drive some mom and pop stores out of business here. My preference is to leave this in the hands of the states, but we both know that some states will will do nothing... sad indeed.

I absolutely agree with your comments about indexing the minimum wage. The problem is the if that is not done, the minimum wage can be used as a political football from both sides. For those of us who desire to see results along with compromise on both sides, the current debate will yield no positive results.