Robert Bennett: Raising minimum wage won't help poor

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    March 4, 2013 8:39 p.m.

    Yes, a rising tide lifts all boats. The problem is that we are dealing with a falling tide, which grounds the boats in the shallowest water first.

    Standard of living is inextricably linked to energy costs. The Obama administration is intentionally pushing up energy prices, and many are calling for carbon taxes that will drive energy prices even higher. So what should happen when our standard of living goes down?

    When standard of living goes up, there is a general migration of workers away from agriculture and manual labor into other areas. It seems logical there should be a reverse migration when the standard of living goes down. However, practically all laid-off workers are content to accept welfare rather than migrate to manual labor, so illegal immigrants are taking all those jobs.

    The focus on "soaking the rich" is a red herring that distracts us from the real problem. The entire wealth of all the rich wouldn't run our government for very long. Then what? Low-cost energy is what we need, and that won't happen with wind and solar. We need nuclear power.

  • airnaut Everett, 00
    March 4, 2013 12:25 p.m.

    A rising tide lifts ALL boats -- Ronald Reagan

    Q: Why is it a GOOD thing when Pres. Reagan propossed it,
    but a BAD thing when Pres. Obama propoesses the exact same thing?

    A: petty politics

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    March 4, 2013 12:15 p.m.

    Raising wages hurts jobs so I told my employer "no, I would not like a raise this year" - said no one ever.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    March 4, 2013 11:34 a.m.

    IJ -- you say your source was Rob Bishop?

    That explains why it is not the truth.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    March 4, 2013 11:30 a.m.

    "The idea of a federal minimum wage arose when many Americans worked as unskilled laborers on farms, in factories, or retail stores or as household help and were often paid less than their work was worth. That situation has changed as most of those jobs have disappeared in the age of technology."

    Retail jobs have been eliminated by technology? Really? What part of your average Wallmart expereince has been replaced by technology? What part of technology has made farm workers redundant?

    I generally enjoy Mr. Bennetts thoughts.... but really?

    There isn't a week that goes by that the Deseret News doesn't have some piece extolling the values of stay at home moms. And yet, the only way for minimum wage workers to raise a family is to have multiple incomes in the same household.

    I do think obsurdly high minumum wages are simply bandaides.... but still. He does get a bit oversimplistic here.

  • dalefarr South Jordan, Utah
    March 4, 2013 8:43 a.m.

    The necessities of life can only come from two sources, pay checks from the private sector or welfare programs paid by the taxpayers. The lower the wage, the higher the cost to the taxpayer.

  • IJ Hyrum, Ut
    March 4, 2013 8:44 a.m.


    "After all, you apparently don't realize that there are fewer government employees now than there were before President Obama took office, and only marginally more federal employees."

    Just curious where you got your figures. I was in a meeting with Mr. Bishop who said the good news was that the stimulus had created 130,000 new jobs - the bad news was that they were all in govt.

    Please qualify your remarkes.

  • wrz Pheonix, AZ
    March 4, 2013 8:23 a.m.

    Oh, I get it. The illustrious former Senator wants the taxpayer to foot the bill for pay raises via the EITC. Spoken like a true politician... hide the raise in a tax return so the taxpaying public won't see it.

    The EITC was a bad idea from the start and should be canceled post-haste.

  • Beverly Eden, UT
    March 4, 2013 8:06 a.m.

    If we, as Republicans, expect to win elections beyond Utah, we need to come up with ideas. Throwing rocks at Democratic ideas is not very creative. It is not a new idea, and it is not good politics. It demonstrates a lack of cooperation and a lack of compromise. This negative attitude permeates Utah politics and is hurting all Republicans. If we expect potential candidates, like John Huntsman, to have a successful future in the Republican Party, we need to stop throwing rocks at the ideas of others and present good idea for the future of America.

  • twells Ogden, UT
    March 3, 2013 11:13 a.m.

    Have we all lost our minds? Do we forget how we manage our own finances? Why do we keep asking someone for something that is not practicable? It's like a small child asking that Santa come live with them so they can have any toy they desire. Sure it would be great if we all made more than enough money. Americans have confused wants with needs. Each of us have made life decisions that have had a consequence as to our ability to make money. Do we really believe in the Wizard of Oz? There is some magical solution to correct our decisions? Put away the electronic devices and get out there and find a different path. Stop asking for the Wizard to fix what we should be able to fizz for ourselves . I remember being told-why should I dot for you what you can do for yourself? Unions and unfunded pension plans have promised more than we can give.

  • cpafred SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    March 3, 2013 9:54 a.m.

    Sen. Bennett points out that a "low wage family can file a tax return and get a check from the government, which encourages work even at entry level, low paying jobs." I agree, but simple human psychology tells us that prospect of receiving a reward (i.e., a tax refund) up to 14 months in the future is not going to affect behavior (getting and keeping a job) remotely as effectively as making the same investment in higher wages today. All animal trainers (and we are animals) know the proximity of the reward to the behavior is essential. Therfore, the same money (spent on the EITC) channeled to hiring employers to offset a higher minimum wage law would be much more effective than Sen. Bennett's proposal.

    Sen. Bennett makes the easy intellectual argument that $20/hr is the wrong (too high) minimum wage, but provides absolutely no evidence that the increase proposed by the president is wrong or that the current minimum wage is correct. Absent all of this discussion, his piece is not compelling.

  • cpafred SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    March 3, 2013 9:40 a.m.

    "Matter of fact, the government should not be in the business of deciding what employees should be paid. That's the job of the economy. But, trust Democrats to get their fingers into everything."

    I suppose if we disregard world economic history and US political history, your assertion makes some sense. However, as an example, unregulated capitalism (or the "economy" as you put it) has shown quite a strong demand for 6 year-old children working 80 hours a week for minimal wages. Child labor laws, the number of hours in a work week, minimum wages, and countless other regulations have been enacted by Democrats AND Republicans over the years to help the "economy" do its job in a manner that respects individual rights and liberties. If you believe Democrats are solely responsible for this, then you can thank Democrats for making this country a great place for you to live and raise your family.

  • Alfred Pheonix, AZ
    March 2, 2013 10:41 p.m.

    @one old man:
    "Raising the minimum wage may not help get people out of poverty, but it sure won't hurt them, either."

    It's not too smart to raise wages in the middle of a recession. The net result is to either raise the unemployment numbers or send more jobs overseas... or both. Count on it.

    Matter of fact, the government should not be in the business of deciding what employees should be paid. That's the job of the economy. But, trust Democrats to get their fingers into everything.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    March 2, 2013 6:30 p.m.

    Raising the minimum wage may not help get people out of poverty, but it sure won't hurt them, either.

    As for some claims that only entry level workers are getting minimum wage, that's simply false now. I know several well educated, very experienced and skilled workers whose jobs were killed by the Cheney/Bush depression. Despite months of looking and looking very hard for work, these workers have been forced to accept jobs at minimum or near minimum wages -- probably because of their age.

    I wonder how quickly the tone of many comments here would abruptly change if the people who write them suddenly found themselves to be "obsolete?"

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    March 2, 2013 6:21 p.m.

    Are more minimum wage jobs with small business or big corporations? If it is the former, not sure how raising minimum wage is going to help employment. These small businesses are struggling right now. Either they will have to lay off workers or they will have to raise prices to consumers or some combination of both. If it is the latter, then of course more can be done on this matter. Teenage unemployment is as high as I've ever personally seen it. I'm not sure how raising the minimum wage is going to help that. I think it would make most businesses (big, medium and especially small) less inclined to hire teens.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    March 2, 2013 6:18 p.m.

    If we drop minimum to $2 per hour who would it help? Not the people making the wage, that's for sure.

  • micawber Centerville, UT
    March 2, 2013 5:35 p.m.


    The term "low information voters" is a little disparaging, don't you think? After all, you apparently don't realize that there are fewer government employees now than there were before President Obama took office, and only marginally more federal employees. But I would never call you a "low information voter".

  • wrz Pheonix, AZ
    March 2, 2013 4:55 p.m.

    "Was it not just last fall that every republican was crying that Romney was right and half of Americans were government leeches?"

    Republicans were crying because it handed the Dems a powerful talking point. But Romney spoke the truth. He forgot that, in a campaign with Dems, you need to avoid the truth at all costs and tell the people what they wanna hear. That's what Obama did. And that's what got him elected. Examples? 'I'm for abortion, illegal immigration, open borders, amnesty, same-sex marriage...'

    "Why don't republicans admit that in capitalism there will always be poor people?"

    Again, you can't speak the truth or you'll never win an election because 'low information' people vote. And there's more and more of them as the years go by. And they flock to the Democrat party.

    @Ultra Bob:
    "In order to make any head way in the path toward civilization, along with the idea of equal justice for all, we must find a better way to redistribute the wealth..."

    Try socialism. It worked... for awhile.

    "The real solution is to eliminate unemployment."

    Obama is trying... by having his governmnet hire more government workers.

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    March 2, 2013 3:05 p.m.

    Liberal Larry: Increasing the minimum wage, pushed by liberals, is in reality just more contempt heaped upon those who can't get anything better. Increasing the minimum wage only tells those who get those jobs that 'paternalistic' government is looking out for them because they just can't figure it out by themselves. What a poor way to raise a child. Liberals, where is your faith in your own child's ability to succeed without you giving them your contemptable mimimum wage jobs (contemptable to them, not to those who believe any job is worth having, no matter what it pays)? What kind of thinking is this? Did you not teach your child anything but 'daddy will take care of you?' If this isn't the grampa claus mentality I don't know what is! Come on, teach your child to live in the real world and go to work to improve his/her life! It makes them better citizens, parents, and children. The problem we have today is not the children, its the parents of the children who are teaching them.

  • micawber Centerville, UT
    March 2, 2013 2:02 p.m.

    As I'm sure Senator Bennett knows, there are studies on both sides of the question of the effect of minimum wage laws on employment. Mr. Saltsman is a conservative who works for a business supported think tank. Not surprisingly, he supports a point of view. There is nothing wrong with that, and nothing wrong with Senator Bennett adopting that view in an opinion piece. But no one should come away thinking the question is clear-cut, as Mr. Saltsman and Senator Bennett suggest.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 2, 2013 1:37 p.m.

    The problem with the Earned Income Tax Credit is that it is too little and may be too late.

    But it is a step in the right direction. In order to make any head way in the path toward civilization, along with the idea of equal justice for all, we must find a better way to redistribute the wealth created by the people for the people to the people.

    History is full of examples of nations and societies that toppled when the weight of the wealth and privilege gets too heavy at the top. America will be no different.

    The real solution is to eliminate unemployment. The EITC is only a tiny baby step toward the goal of full employment and a balanced redistribution of the life force of a stable society. But it is a start.

  • Shaun Sandy, UT
    March 2, 2013 1:24 p.m.

    So a minimum wage increase will do nothing for poverty but an earned income credit will? Was it not just last fall that every republican was crying that Romney was right and half of Americans were government leeches?

    Why don't republicans admit that in capitalism there will always be poor people? Why do they not also admit they do not want or have a plan to help people move up? What have they proposed to move people out of poverty?

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    March 2, 2013 12:59 p.m.

    Re: "Raising minimum wage won't help poor"

    Of course it won't. It wasn't even intended to.

    This Washington-mandated move was motivated by the same leftist political motives as the sequester, gun-rights battles, demands for tax increases, the federal takeover of American healthcare, leftist environmental and land-use scams, the destruction of our national defense capability, and the co-optation of American academe.

    That motive -- admitted last week by unashamed NC Democrat apparatchiks -- is "evisceration" of any opposition to socialization and perpetual leftist control of America and its economy.

  • wrz Pheonix, AZ
    March 2, 2013 12:37 p.m.

    Raising the minimum wage will do two things: Send jobs overseas and raise the unemployment rate for the American work force. The minimum wage... any wage is not the business of government.

    I can't believe the abject stupidity of some of our politicians (actually, most politicians).

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    March 2, 2013 11:14 a.m.


    The same old arguments of failed economics, the likes of which, led us to the horrific economic situation we are in today.

    How many more times do we need to hear that more money to richies=more jobs for us and that less money for richies=less jobs for us? How many more times does this need to be debunked?

    Over the past few years many businesses and CEOs have seen record profits. So where are the jobs?

    If tax cuts and record profits (at the top) meant more jobs for the rest of us bums, then why was this past decade so pathetic in job creation?

    Repubs? Where are you?!

    Even Bruce Bartlett, former Reagan cabinet member and once big time promoter of these voodoo economics, admits that they were wrong.

    Time for America to wake up and take its country back from the rich, corrupt, and selfish. We're being robbed of our wealth and democracy.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    March 2, 2013 10:10 a.m.

    It should be noted that there is sharp disagreement among labor economists on whether raising the minimum wage actually results in decreased employment among the poor. The quality of Wikipedia articles varies in general, but on the topic of the minimum wage, there is an excellent review of the extensive research and literature on the subject, from different viewpoints.

    The interesting question is why have labor economists gone from (in 1978) 90% supporting the idea that minimum wage increases hurt the poor to roughly an even split pro & against increasing the minimum in a survey in 2013 (with a clear trend line toward less certainty among economists about minimum wage effects and greater support of the idea that increasing the minimum wage does NOT impact employment significantly)?

    Based on the rigorous analysis done by economists Krueger and Card, and subsequent challenges and confirmations of their research, it's simply not a cut & dried truth that increasing the minimum wage negatively impacts employment.

    The data doesn't clearly support what should be a clear supply & demand truism. Possible explanations include as the minimum wage rises, there is less turnover among low-end employees, and thus greater productivity.

  • Eric Samuelsen Provo, UT
    March 2, 2013 9:48 a.m.

    Sorry, Senator, but most other economic studies show no loss of jobs, and a mild stimulative effect. I do agree that we need to do more in areas of rural poverty, though.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    March 2, 2013 9:13 a.m.

    The EITC creates people who don't owe federal income tax--that 47% of Americans much maligned by Republicans.

    It is ironic that Mr. Bennett would propose increasing it.

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    March 2, 2013 8:26 a.m.

    Minimum wage is the best way to hurt poor people. Why not just make it $100 per hour. That way everyone could be rich. In fact, every time the minimum wage is raised, unemployment goes up. It does the opposite of helping people. It just makes uninformed people think Obama is doing something for them.

  • liberal larry salt lake City, utah
    March 2, 2013 6:54 a.m.

    "Why not make raise the minimum wage to $20 an hour?"

    This is the standard conservative argument, but many economists tell us that SMALL increases in the minimum wage is neither inflationary or job killing. SMALL increases draw more young and poor people into the work force because the slightly higher pay becomes an incentive to work.

    You would think that conservatives would embrace an idea which encourages people to work!

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    March 2, 2013 6:39 a.m.

    If you are a person who is working for minimum wages, you had better be a teenager or and unskilled worker at an entry level job. If you do not have marketable job skills, what were you doing when you should have been developing them? All higher minimum wage laws do is decrease the number of entry level jobs and increase unemployment for teenagers.

  • Blue Salt Lake City, UT
    March 2, 2013 5:46 a.m.

    Mr. Bennett trots out the usual objections to raising the minimum wage, but his argument does not survive the application of simple reality.

    In terms of real purchasing power, today's minimum wage is far below any minimum wage of the past 60 years. Case in point, my first minimum wage job in 1970 at $1.60 per hour had the equivalent buying power of $9.50 per hour in today's dollars. The business that paid me that wage in 1970 is still going strong. If it paid the equivalent of $9.50 per hour then, it'll survive just fine paying its entry level employees $9 per hour today.

    Moreover, several states in the nation today already have minimum wages established well above the federal minimum, and yet there is _no_ correlation between their higher minimum wages and the health of their economies. In fact, the unemployment rates in states with higher minimum wages is below the national average.

    There is simply no rational basis for permitting employers to pay wages that are so low that they ensure that their employees will live in poverty.

  • Maudine SLC, UT
    March 2, 2013 5:34 a.m.

    Farm jobs and household labor still exist, have not been taken over by modern technology, and are not covered by standard minimum wage rules.

    The fact that you don't know this (or willfully misrepresent the facts concerning it) invalidates the entirety of your column.

    You either lack knowledge of the situation or your point does not stand on facts.

  • RichardB Murray, UT
    March 2, 2013 3:38 a.m.

    Giving the Earned Income Tax Credit instead of a wage increase works much like illegal immigration. Cheap labor subsidized by the taxpayer.

    Let's take away the retirement of federal workers and send them three cases of chili each year instead.