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Comments about ‘Robert J. Samuelson: Boosting minimum wage without repercussions may not be possible’

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Published: Friday, Jan. 17 2014 12:00 a.m. MST

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Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

Every decision in life has a consequence. Legislators who try to buy our votes by telling us that actions have no consequences are cheating our nation. Low pay directly equates to low skills. How many brain surgeons are out of work? How many are being paid minimum wage? How many became brain surgeons by dropping out of school?

As long as liberals try to solve poverty by making poverty attractive, we will always have poverty. Hungry people get tired of being hungry, especially when they know that they caused their own hunger. Looking into the eyes of my wife and eight children every morning was my greatest motivator to do something significant with my time so that they would not suffer.

Foolish people allow government to "help" the poor by taking away every incentive to rise above poverty. Government pays "think tanks" to tell us that raising the minimum wage will not cost jobs. Government also told us that if we liked our insurance policy we could keep it. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Chris B
Salt Lake City, UT

If someone is worth more than they currently are paid, another company will be willing to pay them more.

If no one will pay why someone wants, perhaps they are not worth it.

And lets be clear, it is NOT McDonald's or Walmarts responsibility to pay workers enough to feed a family of 4

It's McDonald's responsibility to pay for the work done.

It's each persons responsibility to provide for their families.

KDave
Moab, UT

Raising the minimum wage is like a dog chasing its tail, it can never catch up. As the mandated raise works its way up the ladder to all employees, an employer is forced to raise prices. The resulting cost of living increase is always more than the new min. wage covers and the poor get poorer. But, it sells well to the uninformed to buy votes.

Invisible Hand
Provo, UT

The very existence of minimum wage is an insult to freedom. Why does government presume to tell two freely bargaining parties what the terms of their agreement should be? The market knows what someone's skills are worth, not some politician. If we want to help the poor, low-skilled and people just starting out, it would be better to give them money directly instead of driving them out of the labor market through counterproductive government mandates of a minimum wage.

Spangs
Salt Lake City, UT

Here is the story, "market forces" disciples:

Either you help people survive with government assistance or the "market" is forced to pay people a living wage. If we don't do either, then gangs of 'have nots' run around taking what they need/want from those that 'have'. What do we get for putting limits on how low a person can be paid? We get public order, we get stability, and we get at least a sliver of upward mobility.

Invisible Hand maintains that we just give the poor cash money because mandating minimum wages would destroy the labor market. Well, we have raised the minimum wage time and time again and the world hasn't ended. To the contrary, we have good data that it actually helps the economy every time it has occurred. What we haven't done is release the "free market" to do with America what it likes. You know who has the most free market? Somalia. When 300 million people get together and agree not to play by any rules, we have anarchy. When people struggle to make enough money to survive, we get desperate people doing desperate things.

Esquire
Springville, UT

Many assume that a higher minimum wage would be bad for business. I argue the opposite. Yes, there would be a short term impact. But don't forget two key factors. First, business will make the adjustments needed because they want to stay in business and continue to make money. It will all settle out with a little time. History shows that to be the case. Second, and this is an issue that the business community forgets and which also applies to taking manufacturing overseas, but a well paid consumer base is a consumer base that will consume, and that means more sales, which means more for everyone. Opposition to a reasonable minimum wage is short-sighted.

Shaun
Sandy, UT

High wages, mid wages and low wages is what capitalism produces. Being realistic, not everyone can move to the top because market forces come into play. If all these low skilled workers educate themselves to get into a high paying field then supply naturally exceeds demand.

In return there are pressure on wages to come down because people get desperate and will work for less.

Im more in favor of taking away tax breaks for big businesses like walmart, target, etc who have people on public assistance.

Happy Valley Heretic
Orem, UT

The fruits of trickle down economics bear little nutritional value after 30 years of failure.

Yep, Mike and Chris are right, it's the poor's fault they should pull themselves up by their boot straps, if they could afford boots.

"And lets be clear, it is NOT McDonald's or Walmarts responsibility to pay workers enough" to feed themselves forget about a family, and if your business model is dependent upon the government paying for your employees food, medicine and utilities to exist, who's the real welfare recipient, the business that profits into the billions or the person who isn't worth full time employment because another corporation is gaming the system on the backs of the middle class.

10CC
Bountiful, UT

Based on economic theory, raising the minimum wage should be highly disruptive, inflationary and have a depressing effect on the low end of the labor market, overall a very poor idea.

Unfortunately, the data simply does not bear out this expected outcome, which is why there is nothing resembling a consensus among labor economists on the issue, as there was in the late 1970s.

Since the theory and data don't match, it's reasonable to take a pragmatic approach. There are some really good reasons to consider increasing the minimum wage.

Aggregate demand remains stubbornly sluggish as profits soar, and wages are stagnant. Employees spend a much greater percentage of their income in stimulating aggregate demand than do the wealthy, who look more for investment opportunities... as demand remains stagnant.

The data that confounds labor economists on why increasing the minimum wage doesn't result in a domino effect of bad outcomes suggests that if low end workers are paid more, they're less likely to "job hop", which results in higher training costs for employers, and greater productivity. In other words, "Win-Win".

Sometimes the orthodoxy is erroneous - in those cases we should adjust our thinking.

Kent C. DeForrest
Provo, UT

Somehow we have forgotten the fact that corporations are chartered by government (the people), and for what purpose? To enrich a few executives and stockholders? Sorry, wrong answer. There was a time in this country when government chartered corporations rarely, temporarily, and to serve public purposes. They were kept on a short leash and disbanded if they forgot their prime directive. But now the tail is wagging the dog. Someone needs to remind corporations that, although they must stay profitable in order to exist, their primary purpose is not to make money. The only defensible excuse for their existence is for them to produce products society needs (or perhaps wants) and to provide opportunities for people to have meaningful work. It's amazing how much we have been taught to forget over the past 150 years of increasing corporate domination.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

Raising minimum wage doesn't cost jobs? Let's see. When you buy gasoline, do you always buy the same brand, or do you stop at the station that has the lowest price? Why? Don't you believe in paying a higher price for the same product? If you are a business and you can pay workers $15 per hour when their real value is $5 per hour, are you going to bankrupt your company and pay an extra $20,000 per year for the same value?

The garment trade is gone because of demands for wages that were higher than the value given.

Obama seized GM and Chrysler because union workers demanded higher wages than the customer was willing to bear. He funded that takeover by destroying the pension plans of policemen and teachers who had been foolish enough to trust the government to pay bondholders before paying off unions.

Look around your home and office. How many items do you own that were made in America? Why don't you support American wages and American workers?

Now, tell me that raising the minimum wage won't destroy jobs.

McMurphy
St George, Utah

The lower the income, the more Govt assistance is available, e.g., food stamps, subsidized housing, earned income tax credit. For those on the lowest rung of income, what private business does not pay them the taxpayer does.

Irony Guy
Bountiful, Utah

Mr. Samuelson is wrong. Businesses DO consult studies about operational issues like compensation. I have found for year that it pays, as a businessperson, to be able to read "studies."

Shaun
Sandy, UT

@Mike Richards. I get your point but how would having more low paying jobs actually be better for this country? If the garment trade is gone because they can not pay people 2.25 an hour how would repealing the minimum wage so that trade can come back actually help the economy?

Its trade policy and monetary policy that need to change. We will never be able to compete with slave labor in other countries.

george of the jungle
goshen, UT

As it is we had 3 people that 1 could of done because there are a lot of lazy people, any one that has a brain wants to have perspective to get a job.

mcclark
Salt Lake City, UT

Every time talk about the minimum wage being hiked, there are grave warnings of disaster. Every time it is hiked, nothing bad happens, more people make more money that they then spend, helping the economy. And I am a small business owner.

Hutterite
American Fork, UT

Raising the minimum will have repercussions. Some large corporations may see lower profits. But it's still worth it. If we go the other way, to the conservative panacea where there is no minimum wage, only illegal immigrants will do the job. If you want to see it in action, take a drive around the lettuce fields near Yuma.

anti-liar
Salt Lake City, UT

In discussions like this the point that frequently gets left out is the issue of Greed. It seems that in the name of "free market," and "capitalism," anything goes as long as you are able to stay out of jail. There is no way everyone currently being paid minimum wage is being paid all that they truly deserve and have earned. There is not a balance in bargaining power between employees and employers; employers typically have the upper hand and most of them take advantage of it.

In-N-Out Burger single-handedly proves the assertion wrong that paying one's hirelings more will result in unemployment or even higher retail prices. They pay their people substantially more than do their competitors, yet they offer a superior value to the customer and still make a profit. The answer is that unlike many businessmen in Utah and in this country, the owners of In-N-Out take their Christianity seriously and recognize that with "free market" and capitalism" come moral responsibility.

Schnee
Salt Lake City, UT

Let's say we have a business. It has 10 employees, they work 30 hours a week at 8 dollars an hour. They make 240 a week each.

Let's say the minimum wage goes to 10 dollars an hour. The employer decides they need to cut hours because they can't afford to pay a single additional cent in wages (I'm going to pick the most extreme scenario). Okay, what happens? 10 employees working 24 hours a week at 10 dollars an hour. They make 240 a week each.

Perhaps the company can handle a 1 dollar increase in worker pay but not two dollars and thus pass half of it onto employees through cutting hours. Okay, so 10 employees working 27 hours a week at 10 dollars an hour. They're now making 270 a week each.

@Mike Richards
"The garment trade is gone because of demands for wages that were higher than the value given.
"

If we let a bunch of low wage 5 dollar an hour jobs be in place then that just means a lot of people will be left needing to work multiple jobs in order to scrape by. Doesn't really help anything.

Noodlekaboodle
Poplar Grove, UT

@Schnee
I pretty much agree with what your saying, but garment workers would kill(literally) to get 5 bucks an hour. The people making your clothes in Bangladesh are lucky to make 10 bucks a week. Minimum wage for a Bangladeshi(per the Huffington Post) is $38 a month. We won't ever get those jobs back, and frankly for those wages do we even want them?
@Anti-Liar
Another good example of that is Costco. Their employees aren't getting wealth working there, but they actually get paid enough money to rent an apartment, pay for a car, and eat. Starting wage at the Costco is around 12 bucks an hour. I know that the people that work their generally seem happier, and I know they are more willing to help and know more about their jobs than say, someone who works a Wal Mart.

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