Got into a lengthy conversation about minimum wage and it brought to the surface something else I’d like to talk about.
It’s too easy to simply say I’m for or against, pro or con on subjects that are way too complex.
Using minimum wage as an example.
First, the media and many politicians are now calling it a living wage. Well there is a debate in itself. Is a minimum wage supposed to be one in which someone is supposed to be able to 100% support themselves? I think it’s ok to have jobs out there that require very little skills, knowledge or responsibility and offer those like teenagers, elderly or just someone who wants to make a little side money but has other things they really want to concentrate on.
Do we really need a minimum wage at all? What do you think would really happen if it wasn’t there at all? I believe in a capitalist society and that while some businesses may attempt to pay people as little as possible, the majority will desire to make their businesses as successful as possible and will come to the common sense conclusion that they need happy and productive employees in order to do that. They aren’t going to be either if you don’t compensate them fairly.
Could having a minimum wage actually be taking the opportunity away from some people to get a job at all and driving the costs of goods up? Even before all of the changes that began in 2020 we were seeing a trend of people being replaced with technology. Why do you think that was happening? Seems to me that the only reason a business would choose to invest in technology over people is the conclusion that they will benefit more from it, i.e. the software or robot or tool is more dependable, productive and cheaper than a person. Even more so if they have to pay that person more and more.
Does increasing the minimum wage cause the cost of goods to increase? I spent the most time in the restaurant industry and then the landscaping industry. In the restaurants our labor rate was just over 20% and in landscaping we were running over 40%. So using 30% as an average and now calling for the doubling of labor costs, I ask, how else can a business survive without raising its prices? I mean if the average company in the US is not even making 20% net profit and you want to increase their labor costs from 30% to 60% the math doesn’t work.
Going through all of this I ask myself who would really benefit from raising the minimum wage? I mean if the price of everything goes up and entry level jobs become non-existent it seems like there is no winner. How much of every dollar you make goes to the government? If you made twice as much how much would they get? Actually, it’s more than that because income taxes are on a sliding scale so they will go from 12% of $40,000 to 22% of $80,000. You do the math. By my math doubling the minimum wage will more than triple income taxes.
So what is the real problem? Watching the news it appears to me that it is expected that someone working 40 hours a week at McDonalds should be able to afford a place to live, utilities, a car and the rest of the basic bills. This makes me ask, how did people do that 40 years ago? I have my paycheck stubs from 1983 when I was making $3.10 an hour and I know that although things were cheaper back then I don’t think I could have rented an apartment, paid the utilities, paid for a car and ate off of $400 a month. So yeah, how did they do it back then and what is really different now?
My point to this conversation is not to argue minimum wage it is to demonstrate that there are issues far more complex than a simple for or against, right or wrong, yay or nay and we need to get better at not jumping so quick to taking a stand and spend more time asking questions, talking things out, seeking out options, being willing to compromise and not jumping to conclusions. Too often when I hear people debating topics it appears to me to be more like a sporting event. I’m right, you’re wrong and there’s a big fat trophy if I can prove you wrong.
Sometimes it can be as simple as getting yourself to simply try and look at something from the opposite way you feel about it. Many times we make decisions based on emotions and can’t rationalize or think logically until we put those emotions aside and welcome other perspectives.
Question the narrative. Why, how, who, where and ask them from both sides of the issues at hand.
Last but not least, make your own decisions about what you think. It’s ok if it differs from the majority, you don’t have to announce it to the world, it’s your answer to what you know, learned or experienced.
Anyway, a little off topic and a little scattered but I hope it gets you thinking and of course, I always appreciate any feedback.