If youâ€™re working today, then thereâ€™s a good chance that at least one of the places youâ€™ve worked has only offered to pay you minimum wage. Maybe you took the job, and maybe you didnâ€™t. Either way, that probably means that youâ€™ve got an opinion about whether there should even be one, much less whether it should be raised or not. Of course, in todayâ€™s political climate, itâ€™s safe to say that just about everyone who has ever given wages a thought or commented on an online news article has an opinion one way or another.
Frankly, both sides of the argument have got a good point, because minimum wage is one of those things that defies the categories that politicians attempt to put it into. For instance- for some workers, itâ€™s more than adequate for the amount of work done. For others, itâ€™s a short-sighted look at what employers believe that employees do on a daily basis. Additionally, it doesnâ€™t always reflect market forces the way that it should. Sometimes, itâ€™s just indicative of an employer looking to fill a position for the lowest price possible, and not caring particularly how much turnover they incur because of that wage.
You might be asking what I mean by â€śmarket forces.â€ť After all, isnâ€™t the minimum wage determined by a complicated mathematical formula that takes into account the average cost of living and basic necessities? Well, yes and no. The formula itself is outdated, and if held to todayâ€™s standard of living, would yield a figure quite a bit higher even than the number politicians like to throw around. â€śMarket forcesâ€ť are what some people feel should be the indicator for minimum wage. Itâ€™s the absolute lowest amount which people will take to accept a position and work in that job for a defined period of time. This would take the federal government out of the picture, and essentially free up small businesses from another tiring aspect of regulation that diverts attention and funds away from the work of building and expanding the business.
What market forces wonâ€™t do, at least at this rudimentary level of explanation, is discern between two very important â€śtypesâ€ť of minimum-wage employees. The first, and arguably the one to whom the minimum wage is best applied at its current level, is the entry-level employee, right out of high school, with no skills to speak of, and no experience in the work world at all. These employees typically still live at home, donâ€™t have much in the way of bills, and for the most part, arenâ€™t expected to stay with the company theyâ€™re working for for very long at all. Some might make it through college with that same job, but even this is atypical.
The second type of employee can only be described as disadvantaged. You can use whatever name you want to describe them, but at the end of the day, theyâ€™re people who just havenâ€™t been able to catch a break. They might be recent parolees, single parents forced out of better-paying jobs to care for their families, or people who simply live too far from higher-paying work to attempt to take a better paying job. Itâ€™s wrong to call them lazy, since the jobs that they typically do are some of the most difficult jobs on the market. Make no mistake. If youâ€™ve never spent eight hours in one spot, doing the same mindless task over and over again, you canâ€™t understand how hard it can be.
Iâ€™m not trying to convince anyone to one side or the other here- just reminding you that the issue of minimum wage is a multi-faceted one, and at its core, it is a much deeper issue than our politicians would have us believe. It would behoove us as Americans to avoid letting the pundits take control of our thinking in this regard, and instead consider carefully the implications of our individual beliefs, regardless of what side those beliefs tend to fall toward.