THE MINIMUM WAGE

The purpose of the minimum wage is to ensure that anyone working receives at least some basic amount for the work they perform. According to liberal philosophy, this is necessary because we cannot trust the private sector to pay workers a fair wage. There is historical precedent for this argument, dating back to the days of the “robber barons” who shamelessly exploited workers, paying them next to nothing and providing in some cases such horrible working conditions that the workers’ very lives and health were threatened. That was then, this is now. Since we have a multitude of alphabet government agencies that protect workers, the argument has now morphed into the often unmentioned agenda by the left in support of its “redistribution of wealth.” This is nothing more than an attempt to penalize what the left sees as the evils of corporate America. Putting aside the hypocrisy by the left (in 2008 and 2012, corporate America gave millions to the President’s campaign), their argument is that we should not only increase the minimum wage to give workers more money, which would supposedly be put back into circulation and lead to more spending and by implication more jobs but we should also be playing Robin Hood by taking from the rich and giving to the poor. Both the stated goal and the unstated agenda are deeply flawed. In the first instance, the non partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that by raising the minimum wage to the level now being advocated by the current administration, 400,000 jobs would be lost. Why? Because most of the businesses being operated in this country are defined as small businesses and they simply cannot afford to pay artificially established wages that have no relation to the reality of what they can earn manufacturing their widgets. From every gross dollar earned, the business pays federal taxes, including withholding for social security, corporate taxes which most small businesses get no tax breaks on, not to mention, state and local taxes. The business pays licensing fees, property taxes or rental, interest on business loans and lines of credit and bears the cost of providing extra benefits to employees including paid vacation, sick time and, of course, health care, now being mandated by the feds. After all of this, the business owner then has to pay personal taxes on whatever income is left to them. The redistribution of wealth penalizes incentive. At some point, people are not going to pursue opening businesses if they cannot look forward to making a decent profit. We now have 46 million people receiving food stamps. We have a real unemployment rate, including those who no longer even try to look for work, in double digits. Government exists from receiving its operating funds from a combination of three sources: one, it can print money; two, it can borrow money; three, it can tax the private sector. Obviously, although lost on many in government, you can only print so much currency before it becomes worthless. We already borrow 40 cents on every dollar at the federal level and a large part of that comes from China, arguably our worst enemy. And finally, as France found out after their citizens rebelled when the government announced a proposed 75% tax, you can only raise taxes to a certain point. With a current deficit of over 17 trillion dollars, the result of Bush and Obama spending, most reputable economists indicate it will take generations to pay it off. In this climate, we need to strengthen the private sector not take steps to further erode its productivity. In the final analysis, the minimum wage should be intended to provide an entry level wage while people pursue the traditional American goal of increased wealth earned in the traditional way: by dedication and hard work not through unearned entitlements leaving them dependent on the whims of largess provided by politicians. Otherwise, we will eventually end up like the Greeks, burning ourselves to death in the streets when the largess runs out.

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