George F. Will: Raising the minimum wage will cause more harm than good

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  • Brer Rabbit Spanish Fork, UT
    Dec. 16, 2013 8:21 p.m.

    The problem is not one of just a shortage of jobs, instead it is a labor surplus. Over the past generation millions of jobs have been lost to automation, mechanization, off-shoring of manufacturing, and a flood of foreign legal and illegal labor.

    The flood of cheaper foreign legal and illegal labor depresses wages primarily at the unskilled levels. However, skilled workers have often fallen to unskilled work, just to get by. This pushes more unskilled workers out at the bottom who are forced to compete for the minimum wage scraps with the foreign workers.

    Slow or even stop the flood of foreign labor, and perhaps a minimum wage would not even be necessary as wages in hospitality, agriculture, and other unskilled occupations increase due to supply and demand for labor. If American demand for cheap labor continues, wages will continue to stagnate, and taxes will increase in order to support those unable to find work with a living wage, which is really a subsidy for cheap labor employers using illegal labor.

    We cannot stop the advance of automation, mechanization, and off-shoring of manufacturing, but we can slow and stop the flood of foreign labor.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Dec. 16, 2013 7:00 p.m.

    David - I get where you are coming from, not being able to pay yourself. My father in law was a business owner, and often he was the last to get paid, as it should be. But I have to wonder, with only 7 employees, can you tell me what rules Obama have put on you that is causing you to have difficulties? You are exempt from ObamaCare...... so what rules are you talking about. I am not saying this to be difficult, rather I honestly want to know what rules have been placed on your business from federal regulation that you have hopes another administration would role back.... inquiring minds would love to know.

  • Sonny N. Bright Taylorsville, UT
    Dec. 16, 2013 3:59 p.m.

    A few of those who have made comments - who obviously have insights into David's business that even HE doesn't have - suggest that if he doesn't pay himself every month he is a failure and should close up shop. This may be hard - even impossible - for you to accept, but I suggest that David knows his business even better than YOU! He may even know it well enough to comprehend the effect that a government mandated expense increase would have on his valued employees.

    Perhaps David chooses to stay in business during slower months, to continue to service his customers and pay his employees, rather than close up shop. Good for him! Good for the economy! Good for the community! Great for his employees!

    The federal government has such an outstanding success track record in handling everything that it gains control over, that we should be anxious and excited to willingly hand over more and more control.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 16, 2013 3:29 p.m.

    The immediate impact of changing the minimum-wage to $15.00 would be... many unskilled workers would lose their jobs and have to go on welfare.

    I don't know how many will lose their jobs, but if you apply any economic logic to this situation.. employers would have to either reduce the number of people they employ... or increase what they charge for their product (which the market may not support, and they end up losing customers, which means again... they have to layoff more workers).


    IF you want more people on welfare ("cloward piven" strategy)... then it's a GREAT idea.

    By every economic model I'm aware of... if you increase labor costs the number employed will go down or the cost of the product must go up. There's just no magic Obama faery-dust you can sprinkle on it to make the natural laws of economics go away.

    Leftists say trickle-down economics won't work, but America's free-market model has brought relative prosperity. Compare America's economic growth to any country in the past 200 years. We have quickly surpassed Great Brittan, Germany, Japan (the old economic super-powers). Seems like it's working...

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    Dec. 16, 2013 1:41 p.m.

    The guy who owns a business that can't pay him his own expenses should close up. His business is a failure.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Dec. 16, 2013 9:59 a.m.

    "If you think government should prevent two consenting parties — an employer and a worker — from agreeing to an hourly wage that government disapproves."

    And then I just stopped reading. Really George.... you want to play the "consenting adults" card. This conditional freedom to choose argument is getting rather old. I am not pro-LGBT anything.... but you can't make the above statement, then pivot when it comes to say, LGBT issues...... you can choose on this issue.... but you can't choose on this other issue.

    How do you make comments like this with a straight face and expect to be credible. If the government can tell people who they can and can't hold hands with, if they can tell a GI he is old enough to choose to put his life at risk in far away lands - but can't smoke or drink because they are "too dangerous", surely the government can tell employers they must pay their employees a reasonable wage... what ever that wage may be.

    The problem is George is a smart guy..... way smarter than this. This is just silly talking points posing as an editorial piece.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Dec. 16, 2013 8:56 a.m.

    I like listeneing to millionaires like George Will, Rush Limbaugh, etc....
    whine, complain and harp about the working poor who don't deserve a $2 an hour minimum raise after 6 years.

    I remind them:
    The wealthy have QUARDRUPLED their earnings over that same time period.

  • Really??? Kearns, UT
    Dec. 16, 2013 6:46 a.m.

    "There are months when I, as owner, don't get paid."

    If that were the case, I would stop being a business owner and go work for somebody else. If you can't afford to hire and pay the best what they are worth, then you can't afford to make the business a successful one. Quite frankly, the more incentives you provide your employees--especially your sales force--the more productive, successful, and loyal they will be.

  • chilly Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 15, 2013 3:58 p.m.

    "Take moral grandstanding oblivious of consequences to a new level by requiring anyone who gives money to panhandlers to give a minimum of $10. Beggars may not benefit, but you will admire yourself."

    This reminds me of a nearby small wannabe-upscale grocery market. You've all been in the larger stores when, at checkout, they ask if you'd like to donate a dollar to some charity. For a while, under new management, the cashier at the small market would ask if you'd like to donate $10 to the charity they were promoting. I never donated the $10 and always wondered how many other people did. I suspect they'd have collected more money by asking for one or two bucks.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    Dec. 15, 2013 1:10 p.m.

    To all those who are repeating the classic reasons for not increasing the minimum wage (simple math, the increase in labor costs, etc.), these are all assumptions that labor economists previously made for why increasing the minimum wage is bad idea.

    But the reality doesn't reflect economic theory, in this case, which is why labor economists have split on whether increasing the minimum wage is detrimental.

    To bring some of you up to speed on the latest economic thinking on why there is no detrimental effect, here are a couple of current theories:

    -increasing the minimum wage reduces the amount of "churn" among the lowest paid employees, who have a greater vested interest in hanging on to a job that pays them more, instead of quitting an moving to another minimum wage job. This may reduce the costs associated with employee turnover, such as increased training costs.

    -there is some evidence to suggest increasing minimum wage decreases the amount of financial stress on low end workers, in turn allowing them to be more productive and focused at work.

    Reality is often more complex than we'd like it to be.

  • David Centerville, UT
    Dec. 15, 2013 12:50 p.m.


    I understand that I didn't reveal too much about my business. I have 7 employees, each are vital to my small business. If I cut 60 hours, as you suggested, I would lose sales & profitability. There are months when I, as owner, don't get paid. So being efficient & productive with outstanding customer service is critical. A 25% wage increase would simply increase payroll. Again, I could fire an employee, but production would suffer.

    I know my business. I know the disastrous effects that government dictates have upon my business & I'm getting tired of it. I cannot hardly wait for a different administration & hope much of The disaster that is Obama can be fixed.

  • morpunkt Glendora, CA
    Dec. 15, 2013 12:13 p.m.

    That's just Mr. Will's opinion. It's not proven.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 15, 2013 11:46 a.m.


    "In my business, if I had a sudden 30% increase in payroll, I would be forced to lay off employees. "

    Here's the thing you all don't seem to understand. Even IF you all are right there's still no net harm. Why?

    Let's say you have 10 workers who work 30 hours a week at 7.25 an hour. Each worker gets 30*7.25 = 217.50 a week. Now let's say minimum wage increases to 10 an hour (a 25% increase) but you can only handle a smaller increase so you slash 60 hours (the equivalent of ditching 2 employees).

    Now you have 10 workers who work 24 hours a week at 10 an hour. Each worker gets 240 a week. Since the company has already established it can pay it's current levels, that means worst case scenario after a minimum wage increase is 0 net change in worker pay.

  • DN Subscriber 2 SLC, UT
    Dec. 15, 2013 10:41 a.m.

    Class warfare and envy of the earning of those who work is obviously thriving.

    What is not thriving is our economy to provide jobs, including entry level minimum wage jobs. No one should make a career out of a minimum wage job, but (at least in a robust economy) work their way up into better paying jobs based in their proven performance and increased skills.

    The consequences of raising the minimum wage, and thus all wages, leads to inflation of all prices so recipients are no better off than before... and many will find themselves out of jobs when it is more cost effective to automate the job, or just eliminate the job (or the entire business).

    The real push for minimum wage change right now is the desperate need to distract people from the colossal failure of Obamacare, and all of his other programs which have kept our economy mired in a Great Recession for four years now.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Dec. 15, 2013 10:18 a.m.

    Yet report after report show that in the past, despite dire predictions of disaster, increasing minimum wage DID NOT cause any kind of economic problems, much less the predicted disaster.

    Quite the contrary, they actually resulted in economic boosts overall.

    But that's the conservative way -- ignore facts. Darn things are so inconvenient!

  • Million Bluffdale, UT
    Dec. 15, 2013 9:37 a.m.

    Raising the minimum wage would be devastating on senior citizens on fixed incomes. There is no doubt that prices would increase on everything due to inflation. Okay, I liked it when the minimum wage went from $1.60 an hour to $2.00 back in 1974 but inflation quickly ate into that increase. Obviously I got batter jobs as I aged and enjoyed more money but now that I am retired I can see the tough time seniors are having on their $700 a month Social Security. Minimum wage should only be increased slowly.

  • David Centerville, UT
    Dec. 15, 2013 9:25 a.m.

    When I got my first job at age 16, I was living with my parents and siblings. I was paid minimum wage for this entry-level job that really just helped reinforce the lessons of responsibility, duty, customer service, honor…

    There is no doubt that raising the minimum wage dramatically (30%) will have an effect upon those employers that extend minimum wage compensation.

    In my business, if I had a sudden 30% increase in payroll, I would be forced to lay off employees. I couldn't absorb or afford to pay that kind of an increase.

    Its a bad idea. Let the market dictate. Supply and demand.

    I wish Obama would focus more on real jobs.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    Dec. 15, 2013 9:07 a.m.

    It's odd that Will would accuse Obama of recycling old, discredited ideas when talking about the minimum wage, because it's the opponents of raising the minimum wage are out of step with current research.

    In 1979, 90% of Labor Economists agreed that raising the minimum wage would have negative effects on low end employment and would have a negative effect, over all.

    In 2012, this strong consensus had fragmented into roughly 1/3 of Labor Economists insisting it would have a negative effect, 1/3 asserting it has a *positive* effect, and 1/3 saying the effect is essentially negligible.

    This deterioration in the historic, overwhelming consensus isn't because colleges are liberal and labor economists have become brainwashed. It's based on the research of a mountain of statistics, including the effect when states in close proximity have different minimum wage levels.

    Pennsylvania raised their minimum wage, and the expected negative effect never materialized, leaving labor economists to scramble to explain why.

    Because our economy is producing wider inequalities in economic results, raising the minimum wage is not just a good thing to do, morally, it builds our internal market of consumers.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    Dec. 15, 2013 8:49 a.m.

    That's right, George. Keep 'em down where they belong.

  • Tekakaromatagi Dammam, Saudi Arabia
    Dec. 15, 2013 7:18 a.m.

    "If you do not care that there are more poor people whose poverty derives from being unemployed than from poor wages. "

    That is correct. They do not care. It is only window dressing. The poor get leftover assistance that is leftover after the paying campaign contributors, in this case unions, have gotten the biggest helpings. Helping the poor is secondary.

  • Commodore West Jordan, UT
    Dec. 15, 2013 4:45 a.m.

    I found his arguments weak and insufficient to the arguments supporting a wage increase.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Dec. 15, 2013 12:47 a.m.

    Haven't had a minimum wage job for a while, have you George? Allow me to spell it out for you. The relationship between employer and employee in these jobs is not that of two consenting parties. These days, it's more like servitude of the worker.