Other bits and pieces

Saturday, May 15, 2010

I Want My Two Dollars!

When I was in high school, I took a job at the local newspaper in the mail room. The minimum wage at the time was $3.25/hour, which gave me enough money to put gas in my 1978 Mercury Capri, buy a couple of gigantic microwave burritos from Circle K®, and score a couple of beers off the guy at the Liquor World who could be easily persuaded by my thin, cabana-boy mustache to mistake me for the guy in the Dos Equis commercials. I know, I know...walked to school in snow all year 'round uphill both ways. Still, it wasn't much. But it was the right wage for a job that required the scholarly accolades common to those stuffing the B section of the paper into the A section.

In 2009, the nannies in Washington declared that everyone in the country should earn a 'living wage'. Whether you were a teenager, or a single parent of 6 boys named Irvin living in a single-wide dumpster, whatever job you have should pay you enough money to buy a small town home in the burbs and hire a hot French maid. Now, my daughter makes $7.15 an hour at her first job EVER and can probably afford to encrust fine zirconium decorations on her cell phone that for some reason I pay for.

Here's a little tip regarding the worth of your labor: Your work is worth what someone is willing to pay you to do it. That's it. Minimum Wage has got to be one of the most ill-conceived economic retard hugs this country has ever embraced. Labor, from the point of view of the laborer, is a service—a good to be traded. It is a good that is needed by the employer. Market forces would self-regulate this aspect of barter just as well as any other. If the owner of Pump 'N' Munch convenience store wants to pay $2.00 an hour for people to stare at the hot dog roller thingy and pretend to clean out the slurpy goop, he's going to get two kinds of employees: 0 employees, or workers that are worth about as much as a barrel of monkey nuts. Any would-be worker without 3 felony convictions for raping farm animals, or a penchant for hurling racial slurs at customers isn't going to work for that little. They don't have to because someone else is paying more. It's called market correction, and it works.

The establishment of a minimum wage removes a pivotal market variable from an economic model. Like the aggregate supply of produced goods and services, labor is a commodity to be bought by employers. When the aggregate demand for products and services falls, a surplus is subsequently seen in the aggregate supply, ceteris paribus. The company producing said products, creating the supply, will have to reduce production in order to bring the supply down and reestablish the equilibrium price. Reduced production will result in a reduced demand for labor and, directly, a surplus supply of labor. This will lead directly to a decrease in the market price for that labor. This would bring about a self correction in the labor market as workers not willing to work for prison wages without prison romance would seek other jobs.

Instead, we have the owner of The Dirty Hoe Garden Supply paying a king's ransom to some meth-crunching teenager to squirt water all over the parking lot. (I don't actually know if meth can be crunched) And as for the segment of the population that Minimum Wage is supposed to help: single parents with apparently no more skill than an adolescent manatee—they make up about 1% of those working minimum wage! You can look it up and www.google.com if you don't believe me. And if that's your situation, you need to re-think your direction in life because $7.15 an hour is no way to go through life my friend. Read a book, learn how to do something that puts you a cut above the average elder child! And if you're not willing to do that—to make a minimum effort to compete in a real work force, then you've made your own bed now lay with the dogs. (I think I screwed that metaphor up)

“Better if they had been born in the open pasture and suckled by a wolf, that they might have seen with clearer eyes what field they were called to labor in. Who made them serfs of the soil? Why should they eat their sixty acres, when man is condemned to eat only his peck of dirt?”
--Henry David Thoreau
© Raymond Smith - 2010

1 comment:

Kerry said...

Glad to see your economics class is influencing you. I agree with your analogy on minimum wage. And I think that your daughter should be buying bling for her mom and dad's mountain bikes!

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