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Torch Sessions

The Minimum Wage Should Be Abolished
by Joseph Branco

March 11, 2005

Ketchikan, Alaska - Who has the right to assign a minimum amount of money an employer can pay an employee? The government? By what authority? There are no provisions in the constitution that grant the government that kind of power. It is my contention that the concept of a "minimum wage" should be abolished. By eliminating the minimum wage, business expansion will open up, unemployment rates will go down, and higher compensation for good work will happen more often. Sadly, every business knows that the lowest production comes from the minimum wage earner. They are easily trained and easily replaced and work is not disrupted when even the employee with the greatest longevity leaves. Why, because the accumulated knowledge of the entire 4 months of employment can be taught to his replacement in 10 minutes.

This is precisely the point in the article where everyone begins to dismiss my point of view because "he is an uncaring bastard". Untrue. I once worked as a minimum wage employee when I was 16. I earned minimum wage for a whole month before I demonstrated my worth and contributed to the Pizza Hut world and I got a promotion and a raise. If, ten years later, I was still working at Pizza Hut at minimum wage who would I look to blame? Pizza Hut? The Government? Big business? No! The blame would be mine. I would accurately be characterized as an unmotivated, unskilled worker. I would have performed my job as well if I had been paid $2.00/hour rather than $4.50/hour and Pizza Hut could have hired more of us to grease the pizza pans and do the dishes.

Without a requirement to pay a "minimum wage", employers could hire greater numbers of young people to give them a start in the employment world and to help train in the useful skills they will need for the rest of their working lives. Dedication, loyalty, integrity, and self-confidence. Nothing is quite as rewarding as being recognized and thanked for hard work. It motivates us to achieve and grow.

I don't want people to begin to think that I don't value the skills associated with excellent housekeeping and other underpaid and underappreciated positions. On the contrary that is precisely my point at eliminating the minimum wage. Market forces will work in the following manner: The qualifications necessary to begin employment in an unskilled trade are minimal and so are the expectations. Employers should be free to hire these employees at any prevailing wage. The motivated employees will work to gain new skills and demonstrate the qualities necessary for long term employment. Their contributions to the organization increase and so will their wage. Long term employment at a living wage is entirely likely. The employer and the employee benefit from the new arrangement.

Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass) is on his age-old campaign to raise the minimum wage. There is not one good thing that comes from raising the minimum wage other than the fact that it sounds so good to say - and so many people buy into the "feel-good" words - many people equate it to helping the poor or something. Okay, let's pretend I agree with Senator Teddy and I say let's raise the minimum wage! This will be the perfect opportunity for businesses to finally have permission to take their business overseas for cheap labor. What happens to our new $7.00/hour minimum wage employees? They become unemployed workers earning bupkiss.

Thank God, Ted Kennedy is on my side. He is just like me! Well, even though he is worth millions the truth is that he didn't work any harder to achieve his money than I did to achieve mine so I think he really does believe in raising the minimum wage. My biggest question is still: If $5.15/hour is too little but $7.50 is just right then why isn't $20.00/hour even better. This is the question Democrats (including Uncle Teddy) will never answer because they know the truth. The answer is that if we raise the minimum wage to $20.00/hour, every wage in America will immediately move in relation to that. And since it will cost the business more to pay that wage, they will HAVE to raise the costs of goods or services sold. When the costs of goods and services rise to meet the new cost (plus a little), it doesn't take but one cycle before you are precisely the point you started. That point is that $20.00/hour will still be the bottom rung of the economic wage earners and the cost of living will have risen to meet that new minimum.

Raising the minimum wage succeeds in nothing but political fodder. And these politicians shovel this food to the ignorant in the arrogant belief that they will be convinced that the Democrats care more about the poor, hard-working minimum wage employee. Instead, these politicians should try to show they care by providing an incentive for the miniscule portion of Americans that actually work for minimum wage (those that aren't pimple-faced teenage McDonald's workers) to learn and grow and achieve. Raising the minimum wage by $2.00/hour is an insult to those who have earned that increase over time and with new skills. How dare the Democrats discount the value of THESE hard working Americans. Provide a business incentive to develop employees more fully so that the employer can increase the wages of their workers without another federally imposed unfunded mandate.

It is the goal of capitalism to reward superior work and find the most efficient and cost-effective method of producing and selling a good or service. Eliminating the minimum wage benefits everyone.

Joseph Branco is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Contact Joseph Branco at branco(AT)


Jospeh Branco ©2005
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