One of the pillars of the Democrat party's new slogan "The Better Deal" is the idea of artificially raising the wages of low income-earning Americans. Their plan is to push for a higher minimum wage, until they reach their utopian level of the "living wage." $15 is the current number the left claims will solve the problems of those who are at the bottom of the pay scale. Is this really the best way to go about raising the wages of individuals? What responsibilities do individuals have for their own success, as well their family's well being? Have we seen examples of this before? The left would have you believe the answers to those questions are yes, no, and don't worry about the past. However, as you might have guessed, conservatives beg to differ...
If we recognize that there are a considerable amount of individuals, many of whom with families to support and struggling to make ends meet, then how do we go about helping these people? The left's idea is always to give people what they need, via redistribution. Is this necessarily the best policy for all parties involved? Setting politics aside for a moment, I feel most people understand the idea of having individuals work for what they receive. Even those who are already working, and being paid a wage equal to the value of the work being performed. We are setting individuals up for a lifetime of mediocrity by continuing to give them that which they have not earned. Instead of relying on the government to force employers to pay people above what they're worth, the individual should be working to become more valuable. This can be done through additional training, schooling, and just working harder. Employers generally want to hold onto excellent employees, and will give raises and promotions to those who first prove their worth. If the government must be involved, I believe providing training to those who want to better themselves, is the best form of assistance. The last thing I want to make very clear is to those who are out there, working in very low skill jobs, such as the fast food or hospitality industries: If you believe you should be able to support a family performing tasks an average inexperienced fifteen year old can easily do, then you are the problem, not your employer. Get out there, and get a real job. They do exist.
This wonderful country is still the most free nation in the world, albeit considerably watered down. With this in mind, individuals are still very much in control of their potential for upward mobility. It starts with school, including high school, college, trade schools, etc. Work hard learning how to read and write, performing mathematics, and acquiring any other necessary skills to make yourself employable. Make sure to follow the widely accepted three basic rules of avoiding poverty, which include graduating from high school, waiting until at least age 21 to get married then have children, and just getting a job. According to the Brookings Institute, of the Americans who have followed these three rules, only about 2% live in poverty, and 75% have successfully joined the middle class. Take that, government redistribution theory! This is the responsibility individuals have to themselves and their families. Each person should be preparing themselves to enter the labor force, while making sure they do not make the critical error of having a child before they are ready to support them. Although, if they do slip up, hard work and determination can make up for any failures in the three areas. I know, because my wife and I are a perfect example of overcoming the portion concerning when not to have children. We weren't married, or ready to support a child, however we worked hard and persevered.
Finally, getting back specifically to the minimum wage issue, we can learn from experiments in the recent past. Basic economics teaches us that as the cost of creating goods and providing services increase, the price of those goods also goes up. If the price of goods for consumers remains stable, then the overhead must be addressed, for businesses to remain profitable. These are the inevitable consequences of changing prices for labor, raw materials, and regulations. This was on display in Seattle, when in 2014 the city decided to raise their minimum wage to $15. Studies done by left leaning groups hailed the move as a great success for those who were formerly "oppressed" by the previous minimum wage requirement. These studies were widely refuted by non partisan groups who actually looked at the facts. What they found was that there was very little change overall, to the group who had their wages artificially raised. This was due to the nature of business, about which I just spoke. Employers were faced with rising labor costs, enforced by government, which meant rebalancing would need to take place, to regain the previous profit margin. A University of Wisconsin study into the fallout found that worker's hours were reduced by an average of 9%, and monthly take home pay went down by $125. Businesses might also decide to cut their workforce, to make up for the elevated costs of employees.
In the end, we cannot forget another crucial piece of truth, and this is the inevitable increase in prices for the consumer. If employers happen to keep their employees working the same hours and receiving the same benefits, thus causing an increase in their workers' net wealth, profits will have to be sustained at some other cost. This is passed onto consumers. But wait, "consumers" include the minimum wage group who just received a substantial raise, correct? Yes! What leads to more clamoring over the "living wage?" Cost of living. Included in the cost of living are the prices for everyday goods, which happen to be produced by the very businesses who are being forced to raise their production costs. As the cost of living rises, there will need to be a corresponding rise in minimum wage. Chances are, the Democrats will realize this will continue to happen, and will aim to outpace the inflation of prices of goods, by raising the minimum wage in larger increments. This would be disastrous, and would ultimately lead further down the road to full fledged socialism. All of this in the name of helping individuals by giving them something they have not earned. I choose more freedom, and less government regulation and intervention. We have got to move the needle in the opposite direction, and reunite generations of people who have been indoctrinated into the idea that the government is not only capable of, but is responsible for taking care of them. Individuals need to be taught that they hold the power in their hands, to carve out their measure of success, from the incredible opportunities afforded to them, in this country.