Gather 'Round For The Dumbest Arguments Yet For Not Increasing The Minimum Wage
Chris Rock joked that minimum wage was an employer's way of saying, “If I could pay you less, I would, but it's against the law." The government hasn't raised the minimum wage since 2009. It's still just $7.25 an hour, and the price of lobster has gone up considerably in the past decade.
President Joe Biden would like to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and politicians who make considerably more than that cry foul. They think the economy would cease to function if people earned a living wage, which is apparently a communist luxury. And apparently to them, it's not like actual people are working minimum wage jobs. It's mostly just children and the occasional Oompa-Loompa!
That's conservative blogger Matt Walsh's theory at least.
Many of the people making minimum wage are high school kids who live at home. The idea that businesses should be forced to pay a 'living wage' even to people who don't need it and aren't worth the investment is simply madness.
According to a 2015 Economic Policy Institute study, the average age of workers affected by a minimum wage increase is 35. Fifty-six percent are women, and 28 percent have children. This makes sense considering how businesses that rely on minimum wage labor are usually open during school hours. When you're hit with a Big Mac attack, you rarely find your local McDonald's closed with a sign out front saying “BRB After Algebra."
Walsh went on to say in a more insulting tweet that “competent adults aren't slaving away for years on end and still only making minimum wage." I'm not suggesting that “competent adults" should spit in Walsh's food for the rest of his annoying life, but I'd probably understand.
GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert from Colorado's third district predictably opposes raising the minimum wage. She even tried to explain her position, which never ends well.
I got my start working at McDonald's. That job doesn't exist if the minimum wage is raised to $15 an hour.
Really? Once the minimum wage is increased, Ronald McDonald will furiously punch figures into a calculator, rip out his red hair, and shout “I'm ruined!" before setting the golden arches on fire for the insurance money? No, it's more likely McDonald's will raise its prices. Maybe even do something crazy like pay its executives less. (Let's not get TOO crazy.) A Princeton economist estimated that a 10 percent minimum wage increase would result in 1.4 percent increase in the price of a Big Mac. Studies have also shown that McDonald's tries to pay employees slightly more than the minimum wage, and they almost always raise hourly rates when the minimum wage increases to remain competitive. According to NPR, economists determined that if the minimum wage goes up by 10 percent, the average McDonald's restaurant will increase worker wages by about seven percent. That seems like a good deal for everyone.
Boebert claimed, without evidence, that “small businesses would be crushed by this arbitrary mandate and big business would simply automate away jobs."
I worked in corporate management for a while, and let me tell you: They never stop trying to automate away jobs. Bonuses depend on it! Technological advancement doesn't remain in a holding pattern as long as the minimum wage is kept just slightly above the poverty line. Economists have found no clear link between increased automation in businesses such as McDonald's and higher minimum wages.
Then there's this asshole. (The senator, not the tweeter.)
Roger Marshall's argument for not raising the minimum wage is that he had a minimum wage job and it paid for his en… https://t.co/WKHIkI98OH— Timothy Burke (@Timothy Burke)1614194746.0
Kansas GOP Senator Roger Marshall said there's no reason to raise the minimum wage because he worked his way through college with his minimum wage job. He even had some money left over to light cigars, we guess.
MARSHALL: I worked with about 15 other high school classmates through high school and junior college with a great part-time job. It was a great supplement to my income, and it helped me not have any debt when I finished college, as well.
Marshall attended college in the late 1970s, early 1980s, before the Reagan administration gutted student aid. (As governor of California, Ronald Reagan also cut state funding for education, setting an insidious example for other states.) Timothy Burke, formerly of the Daily Beast, points out above that when Marshall graduated from Kansas State University, tuition was $898 a year. It's now $10,000. The minimum wage when Marshall was a student was $3.35. Just working roughly 20 hours a week would've paid his tuition three times over. The same work schedule today wouldn't come close to paying a student's tuition. And if the minimum wage had increased at the same rate as KSU's tuition, it would be $33.50 an hour.
Republican Senator John Thune from South Dakota also had trouble comprehending inflation.
I started working by bussing tables at the Star Family Restaurant for $1/hour & slowly moved up to cook – the big l… https://t.co/r8nZb6qRNE— Senator John Thune (@Senator John Thune)1614208398.0
Thune tweeted Wednesday:
I started working by bussing tables at the Star Family Restaurant for $1/hour & slowly moved up to cook – the big leagues for a kid like me — to earn $6/hour. Businesses in small towns survive on narrow margins. Mandating a $15 minimum wage would put many of them out of business.
Sweet Christ. Thune turned 18 in 1979. The buying power of six dollars was equivalent to twenty-tree dollars in today's money. The Star Family Restaurant was truly the “big leagues."
Can opponents of increasing the minimum wage at least try and come up with arguments that aren't out of touch, unfeeling, and riddled with falsehoods? Maybe it's just impossible.
Still waiting for that Senate parliamentarian ruling as of this writing.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."