Letter: Minimum wage

I would like to respond to Mr. Bates’ letter regarding the minimum wage. There are three points that he makes that I believe are faulty. The first is that a living wage is a “Utopian lefty idea,” which I suppose he means is an unrealistic goal. However, by failing to pay a living wage, many workers rely on government help such as food stamps (SNAP) and housing vouchers to make ends meet. In effect, American tax payers are subsidizing the low wages paid by businesses such a Wal-Mart.

Secondly, if raising the minimum wage increases cost to business and to customers, then why stop at the minimum wage. Why not freeze all pay increases? Richard Nixon tried that in 1971 with wage and prices controls resulting in disastrous effects. Yes, raising wages usually results in price increases. That’s called inflation and it is a standard component of a free market economy. That is why the Federal Reserve sees inflation management as one of its primary responsibilities. Lastly, leaving wages to the free market is fine in principle, assuming that the market is not rigged to benefit just the wealthy. But between 2009 and 2012, 95 percent of the gains resulting from the current recovery have gone to the top 1 percent. Contrary to stereotypes and the repeated claims of minimum wage opponents, the overwhelming majority of low-wage workers are adults, not teens, and they contribute a substantial portion of their households’ incomes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, three-quarters of minimum wage earners are 20 or older.



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