Tahlequah Daily Press

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February 21, 2014

Benefits of hiking minimum wage are an illusion

(Continued)

I worked my college summers for electrical contractors and started out making minimum wage. As my productivity and skill increased, my pay increased. That’s the idea behind “entry level” wages.

That is also what happened when I started in journalism, with an “unpaid internship.” Then I got hired - for minimum wage. The publisher/owner fancied himself a liberal but ran his company like a right-wing zealot – something I supported then and support to this day because it was the way to keep the business afloat. I wasn’t so impressed with his rank hypocrisy.

But, again, as I learned the job, my pay increased, with no “minimum wage” pressure necessary. Without that entry-level pay, I might not have been hired in the first place.

A couple of other observations:

If the current minimum wage is so awful, why are millions of people still flocking to the United States from other countries – many of them illegally? I suspect it is because they know that they may start at minimum wage but won't have to stay there. If fewer of them are hired, because it is more expensive to hire them, is that a good thing? Do we want to be the land of less opportunity?

Also, if you’re suddenly making a few bucks more per hour but all the stores where you shop are more expensive because they have to pay their workers more, have you gained anything more than an illusion of increased wealth?

Raising the cost of labor will have consequences. Not all will be good for poor people.

Those who are selling a higher minimum wage owe both taxpayers and workers the whole truth. One of those truths is that the real minimum wage is zero.

Taylor Armerding is an independent columnist. Contact him at t.armerding@verizon.net

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