Wednesday, May 3, 2017

A Conservative Voice For a $15 Hour Minimum Wage

In the early sixties the Big Four automakers fought tooth and nail against building safety into their cars, claiming that the added expense would make cars un-affordable for the average family. Today it seems absurd that these companies resisted seat belts and airbags and all their forceful arguments turned out to be nonsense as the public embraced these innovations with open arms and an open wallet. It turns out that safety was something consumers were happy to pay for and so it is  that companies make more money selling consumers a better, yet somewhat more expensive product.
It took years of lobbying by the likes of consumer advocates led by Ralph Nader to overcome the ferocious corporate resistance and it took nothing short of government regulation to force the automakers into making their cars safer. 
So let me put aside the arguments of those free-market advocates who will tell us that government should never interfere in business. The reality is that only government regulation can get companies to make monumental changes, like lower emission standards or the elimination of leaded gas. 
Still companies fight these advances on the basis of profit and the only thing that keeps companies from cheating is the threat of sanctions, a case in point is the outrageous cheating by the greedy and dishonest Volkswagon automaker which manipulated data to fool regulators over its car emissions. And this happened not in the sixties or seventies, but quite recently.
So I'm not confident companies will do the right thing without government oversight.

And so we are being treated to an onslaught of corporate propaganda that warns us that a $15 an hour salary will cripple the economy and ultimately cost jobs. Those warnings should be taken with a grain of salt.
I don't know about you, but paying attention to Wallmart's threat that jobs will be lost is as earnest as the Hells Angels arguing against the legalization of marijuana.
Both these organizations don't exactly have the public's best interest at heart and it should be noted Wallmart's low salaries cost the US taxpayer over $6 billion dollars in food stamps as employees battle to stay afloat and feed their families. How is it that a company  that makes $15 billion in profit, expects the public to augment their employee's salaries because they pay so little?

I wonder what the public's reaction would be if a Chinese company offered to set up a manufacturing facility in Canada as long as they could use Chinese environmental and safety standards.
The company would demand a waiver whereby they could dump effluent into the local river and pollute the air using coal as a fuel. As for employees, they would not be provided with safety equipment and would be forced to handle dangerous and toxic materials without protection.
Even with the promise of jobs, would you be in favour of granting the company a permit under these circumstances?
 I'm sure your answer would be an emphatic NO, that the jobs are not worth it.

So how is that we accept the argument of local companies that paying a lower than living wage is the only way to insure that their company will operate.
I do not buy it.

There is a belief that an increase in minimum wage will cost jobs, but companies are already racing to eliminate any job that can be eliminated through automation.
Mechanization and robotization are a fact of modern life and it is a trend that is here to stay. It will continue to be responsible for the elimination of jobs, regardless of a minimum wage increases. The banks introduced ATMs years ago in order to eliminate tens of thousands of bank teller jobs. Already self-service checkouts exist in food stores and food ordering kiosks are becoming common in fast food outlets. The robots that are taking over manufacturing are more responsible for job loss than any competition from overseas. That trend will not be accelerated with a $15 minimum wage, we are already hellbent on getting rid of employees.

The majority of McJobs are in the fast food industry and retail. The impact of an increase in minimum wage at these restaurants is debatable but researchers at Purdue found that raising pay for fast food restaurant workers to $15 an hour would result in an estimated 4.3% increase in prices at those restaurants. That means the price of a $3.99 Big Mac in the USA would jump to $4.16.
Big deal.....`

So stop being frightened by gloom and doom predictions, becuase companies will adjust and society will be better for higher wages.
Some jobs will be lost and  some will be gained as minimum wage employees gain more disposable income.  Perhaps corporate profits will go down slightly, but I won't complain about that.

The predictions of mass layoffs is rubbish, just ask the CEO of COSTCO, a company that that thrives on employee retention and satisfaction, where employees will go the extra mile to make the company successful.

Every time you hear somebody argue against a $15 minimum wage ask them point blank how much they make. Hmmm....
If you care about the environment, if you care about discrimination and if you care for the welfare of your fellow citizens,  you should stand up for a decent minimum wage.
The sacrifices we must make to pay everyone a living wage is minuscule and we should have an active discussion as to what those small sacrifices would be rather than listen to the gloom and doom predictions of the corporate class. I'd gladly pay a tiny bit more for a Big Mac or a Starbucks latte. If the tiny increase is too much of a burden for you, give up one out of twenty-five purchases, that's all it takes to  help your fellow citizen make a decent wage.

As for me, I won't use the self service aisle at the supermarket, nor return my cart to the receptacle in the parking, nor will I buss my table at the fast food restaurant, despite being entreated by companies and society that it is the socially acceptable thing to do.
I'm not interested in doing somebody else's job if it means sacrificing their livelihood.

1 comment:

  1. Increasing wages for jobs which require no education or no skills simply lowers the value of those two things. Everyone else would be making 4.3% less, according to your numbers.

    Is that the message we want to be sending, that getting a diploma is now worth less? How many high school students will simply decide to drop out since they can make a "decent wage" working at a no skill job?

    Seems like some people think it would be better to have the poor poorer if only the gap could be smaller:

    Why don't we focus on encouraging people to get a better education in a useful field instead, where they could have a fulfilling career with a decent salary.