The Minimum Wage Hoax

One can always tell an election is near when Democrats attempt to pass a bill dealing with the minimum wage.

It's usually trotted out about this time. The routine is simple: A bill to increase the minimum wage is proposed by a prominent Democrat (it used to be, like clockwork, Ted Kennedy). Its purpose is political, not economic. The issue is raised to get Republicans to vote against it, which makes them, Democratic reasoning goes, less attractive to voters.

Why the bill wasn't proposed during a non-election year is never explained, nor is that question asked by the administration-friendly national press, which is pro-Democratic.

Republicans conveniently fall into this political trap; they traditionally oppose the bill by offering economic arguments that few people take the time, or have the wit to understand. The thrust of their argument is: A higher minimum wage will cost jobs; Democrats reply: it's the humane thing to do.

Giving a benefit is easier to explain and easier to defend than denying one. So, the Democratic "giving" tactic has continued through the years, and it has usually been successful. Republicans end up looking like the political party that refuses to help "the little guy."

Republicans are repeatedly caught in this unsympathetic position for two reasons: 1) Part of the Democratic argument is true: 1) Some "little guys" (for example, dishwashers) are helped -- the purchasing power of their minimum wage diminishes as inflation eats away at it; the permanent "little guy" is helped by an increase: 2) It is fair and sensible to keep the purchasing power of the minimum wage in harmony with inflation for old and for new workers.

In other words, just saying "no" has been, for Republicans, a destructive policy that has probably cost them reputation and votes.

The federal minimum wage in 2009 was $6.55 per hour; in 2014, it is $7.25, just about where it should be if it were tied to inflation. That is a healthy and a fair situation.

Recently, Democratic Senator, Tom Harkin (a substitute for the departed Ted Kennedy), proposed a higher minimum wage, as one of (abortion, gay marriage, etc.) the inflammatory issues that Democrats will raise during this election year. Under its terms, the minimum wage would increase to $10.10 in about three years -- an increase of 39 percent. Ridiculous!

What should the Republican response be to the Harkin's bill, and to future attempts to raise the minimum wage?

The answer is simple, and it removes a regularly recurring election-year gambit from the Democratic arsenal of tricks. Tie the minimum wage to the inflation rate, to be increased at the same time that Social Security is increased.

Increases beyond that level will cost job loss and be counter-productive (The Congressional Budget Office estimates that Harkin's bill would cost 500,000 jobs). Such an approach would eliminate the minimum wage hoax; it would protect the buying power of the minimum wage for old and new workers.

Republicans have been wrong to oppose any increase in the minimum wage. Those workers with the most rudimentary skills (dishwasher) should not be punished with a pay decrease every time the inflation rate goes up; employers are not penalized when they pay their people, in terms of purchasing power, the same that they paid them the year before.

Democrats have been wrong in their belief (which they exhibit in the tax code and elsewhere) that the people in a certain "income" bracket are a specific group of people who will remain, at any wage, in the same bracket. Wrong! By the time the new wage is legal, most people in any bracket will have moved up to a higher one, or down to a lower one. Except for the always-present "dishwasher," the fundamental net effect of the new minimum wage is to increase the cost of hiring new people. To avoid this, employers find other ways to get the job done -- hiring decreases. Hence, the CBO job-loss estimate (500,000).

Ever since Presidents Wilson, Roosevelt and Johnson, America has had leaders who have ripped the Constitution apart and have tried to create heaven on earth in the U.S. It hasn't worked -- its failure can be demonstrated.

Until abuse is observed, the market should speak about such things as wages. Contrarily, if central government proposals are made to, and approved by the states, perhaps minimums for wages, tied to inflation, and working hour maximums, for humane reasons, etc., could be agreed to.

Otherwise, Uncle Sam, mind your business. welcomes thoughtful comments and the varied opinions of our readers. We are in no way obligated to post or allow comments that our moderators deem inappropriate. We reserve the right to delete comments we perceive as profane, vulgar, threatening, offensive, racially-biased, homophobic, slanderous, hateful or just plain rude. Commenters may not attack or insult other commenters, readers or writers. Commenters who persist in posting inappropriate comments will be banned from commenting on