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Old 07-26-2019, 02:15 PM
Scylla is offline
Join Date: Jan 2000
Posts: 16,390
Originally Posted by Wrenching Spanners View Post
I disagree with the portions of your statement that I've bolded. An adult working full time at minimum wage should be able to earn enough to be above the poverty level. I'm sure my categorisations of the absolute (meaning non-relative and not percentage based) poverty level and living wages will be lower than many on this board. However, if we expect people to be self-reliant and responsible for meeting their own needs, then they need the ability to do so, which means the ability to earn a living wage.

Also, a minimum wage is a market inefficiency, but a necessary one. It's an unfortunate fact of life that there is a very broad pool of unskilled workers. Some unskilled workers are able to make more than others through a combination of work ethic and experience, but their pay is relative to their starting point, which is the minimum wage, and many aren't in situations where they are able to achieve raises. The market "fairly" values unskilled workers at a price that is below the minimum wage. If you expect unskilled workers to not be impoverished, and thus self-reliant, then that market inefficiency is needed.

I will note that there are exceptions that justify paying below the living wage. Teen-agers, apprenticeships, work-assistance and retraining programs all, in my mind, are acceptable exceptions, although they should still have a minimum wage, just a lower one.

The problem here is that I agree with your sentiment. I really do. It should work this way. Who would disagree with the basic concept of an honest dayís work for an honest dayís pay? If someone goes out busts their ass for 8 hours doing a job, they should be earning enough to put food on the table, and a roof over their head. That is fair and just.

I mean that. Saying ďwell tough shit, the world is not fair, life is not fair, deal with it!Ē Is callous, insensitive and most damning..... it is easy.

But itís not. Sometimes an honest and full dayís work is just not worth much. Maybe itís only worth $6/hr. If the minimum wage is $15, that work may not get done and nobody gets anything. Maybe $6 would have helped somebody who now gets nothing. You have taken away his choice, his chance.

The fact is that some people, especially at the level of very basic unskilled labor come with issues and baggage that lower their $worth/hr.

I know a landscaper who mows lawns near here, and he pays an hourly wage on a sliding scale based on how many days in a row somebody manages to show up and work a full day, because some of his employees are hungover and sleep in the truck all morning if they show up at all. Others work a couple of days and make enough money to make it through the rest of the week and donít show up. He basically needs to stock his crew at 150% to count for no shows, and if they all show up he has to pay them all. He has other problems, too that lower the value of the workers who take his jobs. When he finds reliable people he usually gives them a crew and a truck and pays them very well. Even at this level he canít find enough people who are capable of driving a truck, and responsibly running a crew of 3 other people and 4 lawnmowers to mow lawns on their own. Such a man, when he does find one gets an hourly wage AND a percentage of the earnings generated. He has been running this business the 25 years and he has two of four trucks going, because he canít find anyone responsible to run the others, and we are talking around $1,000 week such a person could earn.

Then too, business carries risk, and can run on temporary hard times where the choice might be to close or pay less.

A farmer can break his back planting a field, but there is no guarantee that locusts wonít eat his crop generating a huge loss in which case his labor had a negative value, or that his crop will recoup his investment. Itís unfair, but itís true. Itís difficult but not impossible to pass these risk on to oneís labor. The trade off is that if I work that farmer, I get paid regardless of his outcome. If he canít meet minimum wage and canít plant his crop, his crop, and my labor and the goods that they could provide are removed from the economy.

So... it has very real negative consequences.