The government response to the coronavirus pandemic has put extraordinary pressure on small businesses. And that pressure is about to increase thanks to yet another government action – minimum wage increases across the US.
I get really frustrated by people arguing vociferously about things they don’t know anything about. And on no subject is this more prevalent than the debate over the minimum wage. Bring up the “fight for $15” and you will suddenly get high school dropouts who can’t do basic multiplication yelling at you emphatically about the benefits of government-imposed wage floors. Because, you know, they feel like it should work.
You’ve almost certainly heard about the “fight for $15” movement to increase the minimum wage. Well, some activists have upped the ante. How does “Fight for $20” strike you?
Here’s the problem, these people are trying to solve a legitimate problem with a really bad solution.
The minimum wage debate obscures a more significant problem in America. We don’t primarily have a wage problem. We have a money problem. Government devaluation of the dollar over the years has stolen money from average Americans. But instead of dealing with the core issue, the fight centers around wage policy and offers solutions that will just exacerbate the problems.
While we’re on the subject, a recent study by the Congressional Budget Office put a little bit of a damper on the “Fight for 15” minimum wage initiative.
Raising the minimum wage might be good politics, but it’s bad economics – despite what some economists say.
Last week, the Maryland legislature overrode the governor’s veto and adopted a $15 per hour minimum wage. It was a major victory for the “Fight for $15” crowd, but it almost certainly won’t be for low-skilled workers — at least not the ones who whose maximum wage will be $0 per hour because they cannot find jobs.
One of the biggest enduring economic myths is the notion that the minimum wage laws only help workers and have no real negative effects. The fallacy inherent in this line of thinking becomes immediately clear if we simply propose a $1,000 per hour minimum wage. After all, if $15 is good, $1,000 would be fantastic, right?
Of course, nobody would pay somebody $1,000 per hour to perform a low-skill task. It’s obviously unaffordable. A $15 per hour minimum is just as unaffordable.