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Minimum Wage Laws – My Take

If you live in the US, you should already be familiar with minimum wage laws. I am sure other countries have similar things in place as well. While we are used to having these to dictate what employers are allowed to pay their employees, that does not necessarily mean that they are a good idea. Through this article I am going to look at them from both perspectives: those that are against and those that are for it. This is a topic that I have seen come up time and time in conversation, and it has also been a pretty hot one. So let us continue.

For Minimum Wage

The idea behind being for minimum wage is that it helps ensure that people who work are able to afford their basic living expenses. If we take the earnings for a minimum wage job and multiply by the assumption of a 40 hour work week (which is seen as full time), you still end up with people living with basic life styles and still being forced to handle finances on a case by case basis.

The argument here is that if stores were to pay employees less, some would still be willing to work. Since the minimum wage is already way below what we would call comfortable standards (especially for people who are working and trying to support a family), this could cause some pretty big problems. The stores would always be able to find employees, regardless as to what they are paying. Of course this does come with its limits as well, but we have no idea what that bottom really is since there are minimum wage laws to keep that from happening. But what we can definitely assume is that people would be getting significantly less than they do right now.

Against Minimum Wage

On the other hand, we have my stance as a businessman. My goal is to find the balance between a quality worker and the cost of said worker. If I have two people that are about equal in quality and yet one is much cheaper than the other, the answer is pretty simple. This should be pretty obvious, though, because the goal of any business is to increase profits. If there is a way to boost profits (through higher income) without lowering the quality of work being done, there is no reason not to take it. In this case, hiring someone at a lower rate is a clear choice that benefits the business.

On top of the fact that we want to deal with more profit, there is also another pretty big thing: people will always work cheaper. If the first person will not do it, the next might. Especially in an economy like we are in now (still), with high rates of unemployment, a lot of people are more than willing to lower their asking rate in order to have income. After all, any income is better than nothing at all. And if they are not employed, they are not making anything.

Allowing the government, whether it is state or federal level, to select what we can and can not pay to people we hire is a little backwards from the open business model we strive to have. After all, if someone is willing to work cheaper, why is it wrong to let them do it? Why do we have to go out of our way to boost our offers, when we have already found a great meeting place that makes both parties happy?

Effects On Living Expenses

I think that the theory is that if we do not have minimum wages, prices will continue to rise until the general workers can no longer afford to live. While this is a possibility, I do not believe that it is true. It is important to remember that we, as a society, determine what prices things sell at. We do this by either buying an item or not buying it. We speak with our money.

Now, if we have a lower minimum wage (or none at all) and prices get to where people can not afford their basic expenses as a result, we would stop buying things. Without money, what other choice would we have? So this would show that the price of things is too high, and in order to continue selling their things, companies would have to lower their prices. This is the business world we live in, and it is what we are used to. We deal with inflation already as it is, so why can we not deal with going a bit backwards?

It could be argued that my take on this is completely wrong. As far as I am aware, there is no real evaluation as to what would happen if people were to earn less. While I do believe that it would lead to lower prices on everything, the only way to know for sure would be to see it in action (which, due to the laws, is not going to happen). Of course we would also have another scenario that is likely to pop up, which would happen in tandem with prices going down: the rich would get richer. Since people at the higher end of the earning bracket are way above the minimum wage and are therefore not affected by it, any changes would not bother them. At most, it would end up bringing them to even higher income since the businesses they work for would be increasing their profit. So the poor get more poor and the rich get more rich. In all reality, this is what we are facing regardless, so I do not see it having too big of an impact on how things would work. I think that if we are only messing with the lower class, we would only have an effect on them.

Conclusion

I am really not for or against the idea of minimum wages. On one hand, I do support them (as they help keep people afloat when they otherwise may not even have enough money to pay for their basic necessities). On the other, I think that they are wrong, being that if people are wanting to work cheaper there should be no law against that. We all make our own choices, and if we are only affecting ourselves, that should not be against the law. In the case of earnings, we are not harming anyone or destroying anyone's life. And being able to earn a little bit is a lot better than being out looking for work and earning nothing at all. Looking at things with a positive light is going to make all the world in situations like these.

Economics | Opinions


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