President Obama and his supporters are currently very vested and engaged in championing the minimum wage. They have arbitrarily set $10.10, up from the current $7.25 as the new benchmark. This issue was so important to the President that he included it in his State of the Union Address, to great applause from his supporters in the Congress.
But, is that where, or what, we want our leaders at the highest levels to focus and dedicate their time and energy? Is this that which will bring the greater benefit to us, the citizens of this great country?
This might be our moment for some push-back on this issue. Why? The minimum wage is about minimums. It is about issues at the low end of the scale, at the very bottom. Should not our leaders be thinking in terms of that which takes us to the “top” rather than the bottom? Every time the word ‘minimum’ is mentioned, we should be thinking about that which takes us to the least common denominator—that which registers at the bottom after all is averaged out! Is that the place where we want to exist?
As a society, we should be asking our leaders to do the exact opposite: call on the job creators to create jobs that pay salaries way in excess of the $7.25 or $10.10 that those promoting the minimum wage at one level or another are advocating. Our joining in celebrating calls for minimum salaries, whatever their levels, tells that we are prepared to blindly and slavishly follow proposals established by others, even if they do not benefit or advance the status of those the policy was designed to help. The minimum wage, where ever it is set, guarantees that a substantial percentage of the population will stay at the bottom, whereever the government determines that bottom is, forever!
There are some other obvious issues surrounding the universal embrace of the ‘minimum wage’ as a blessing rather than a curse. For example, the government’s sanctioning of a minimum wage could be considered nothing short of the government itself giving a cover of legitimization for very low wages. Why? Because if the government says that $10.10 is the minimum wage, they are at the same time saying that anyone who is paid that amount is getting a fair wage. It is the law. It must be what an hour of work in America is worth in the year 2014. But is it?
We know of a Bishop in the Church who refused to pay his maid more than $5.25 per hour and explained that his reasoning for doing so was that the government had established the minimum wage and that was what he was going to pay. He could not care less that the woman had five (5) children to feed and no husband. To him, the government had established $5.25 as the minimum, and that was what she was going to get from him.
Consider that in certain parts of the country, for example New York City, it costs $15.00 to cross a major bridge from one part of the city to another. If $10.10 is the legal, authentic, authorized and mandated wage set by the government, it is obvious that one must work at least one and a half hours per day in order to pay that bridge toll if they happen to live in New Jersey and need to cross over into Brooklyn or Queens to do their work!
Maybe there should be a suggested minimum—the amount that sustains one above the poverty level. But the government’s establishment of a specific minimum wage mostly has the effect of granting cover to people like the Bishop, mentioned above, and certain other employers to pay gross wages to people.