Putting a human face on the minimum wage: Prof Chris Fee writes on Marketwatch

The inflation-adjusted value of the federal minimum wage fluctuates, but is now lower than it was in the late 1970s. (Image courtesy of www.marketwatch.com)

Min Wage Chart

Chris Fee, English prof. and department chair at Gettysburg College, authored a piece on the minimum wage that appeared on the Wall Street Journal's Marketwatch on March 13. Fee often writes about issues related to poverty and homelessness. His seminar for first-year students on The Literature of Homeless includes a substantial service-learning component in Washington, D.C.

From the article:

What is a “livable wage,” and should we strive to raise wages for American workers?

There are lots of conflicting studies and reports. The Congressional Budget Office projects that an increase in the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour would eliminate 500,000 jobs while raising the incomes of nearly 17 million Americans.

Even prominent economists like David Card and David Neumark diametrically disagree on the likely consequences of raising the minimum wage, and their studies of results in New Jersey have consistently yielded conflicting results for decades.

More recently, further experience in states such as Washington seem to belie fears that raising wages costs jobs. Furthermore, contrary to the argument that a wage hike would hurt small business, a recent survey shows small-business owners support an increase. Finally, data shows that increasing the minimum wage would cost consumers much less than some predict, probably on the order of a little more than $10 a year for the average shopper.

For the sake of argument, however, let’s assume that there would be some penalties for raising the minimum wage. Let’s say that we should just allow market forces to dictate wage levels.

Read the full story.

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition that includes Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate and other distinguished scholars among its alumni. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

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Posted: Thu, 13 Mar 2014


Mr. Fee is missing the mark here. The proposed increase in minimum wage does so much more for union workers whose wages are indexed to the minimum wage and it simply represents more "vote buying" by the democrats. In typical fashion, the very people they claim to be helping will be hurt the most as shifts are cut, marginal businesses fold, and jobs leave the country. The only way to raise wages is to create more demand for labor, and that means getting off of the back's of businesses so they can flourish. Trying to force it some other way just won't be sustainable and will likely have unintended consequences. Mr. Fee includes a wonderful chart in his story showing the real value of minimum wage, but what would be more appropriate is a chart for the same time period showing the real value of minimum wage plus the real value of unemployment, welfare, Medicare, Medicade, food stamps, disability, Obama Care, and all other entitlements at the federal, state, and local levels. No doubt that would put a somewhat different "human face on the minimum wage". News flash: no one ever made a living on a minimum wage – it is an entry level position. The concept that you need to work hard and to work smart in order to get ahead in this world has utterly vanished! They just don’t get that our work product represents our sweat, our perseverance, our risk, not to mention time away from our families, and that they are confiscating it. Where is the justice? As James Madison warned in his famous Federalist Paper nicknamed "The Tyranny of the Majority", our democracy is quickly eroding into the proverbial "two wolfs and a sheep voting on what's for dinner". Frankly, I have had enough of “low information Americans” enacting “cram down” legislation at every level of government and leaching off the rest of us.

William Mainardi - 81 | Posted Mar 14, 2014 09:14 PM



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