Minimum Wage Soars To $6.55, Working Poor Still Too Impoverished To Celebrate

Great news, minimum wage workers: if you spend the next year working without getting sick or, um, going on vacation, you’ll make $13,624! Uncle Sam’s $0.70 minimum wage hike is the second of three to take effect before next summer, but the meager raise is hardly a godsend for the working poor.

Last week, the Labor Department reported the fastest inflation since 1991 — 5 percent for June compared with a year earlier. Energy costs soared nearly 25 percent. The price of food rose more than 5 percent.

So the minimum wage hike is “a drop in the bucket compared to the increases in costs, declining labor market, and declining household wealth that consumers have experienced in the past year,” Lehman Brothers economist Zach Pandl said.

The new minimum is less than the inflation-adjusted 1997 level of $7.02, and far below the inflation-adjusted level of $10.06 from 40 years ago, according to a Labor Department inflation calculator.

25 states require employers to pay more than the national minimum wage, but 1.7 million Americans still rely on the federal government to set a wage floor. Only 20% of them are teenagers.

The nation’s top financial minds can’t tell us how the minimum wage effects the economy, but we’re sure our beloved cadre of ever-cheerful commenters not only knows for certain, but is willing to share.

Federal minimum wage rises to $6.55 today [AP]
(AP Photo/ Ellen Wznick)


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  1. nonzenze says:

    You know, contrary to the implication of the graphic, McDonald’s pays significantly more than the minimum wage. Most jobs there start at $8 and level at $10 — not a princely sum but not bad for fast food.

    This hike does jack shit for people working at McD’s.

  2. Jaysyn was banned for: says:

    Yay, inflation!

  3. nXt says:

    California’s minimum wage is $8.00. Raised $1.25 in the last 2 years.

  4. RodAox says:

    well good news is that they save a sh*t ton on car insurance by taking the bus… oh wait those rates are going up as well…..

  5. bombaxstar says:

    illinois, fuck yeah.


  6. TheSpatulaOfLove says:

    But in the last seven years, we’ve created thousands of jobs! Sure, they were mostly minimum wage jobs, but that doesn’t show very well on political ads!

    Meanwhile, China is making a killing…

  7. 3drage says:

    Once again my degrees have become devalued. Gotta love that I’m still paying out the nose for college while people are getting free raises.

  8. 00447447 says:

    How is this relevant to The Consumerist? Does it not benefit the consumer to keep wages low in low skilled jobs? Does someone who flips burgers really need to be paid anything over six or seven dollars and hour? Its a job, not a career. If one must rely on this job for to support ones family, it’s time to take stock.

  9. ctaylor says:

    I’m trying to understand minimum wage hikes, but it seems to me that most places that pay minimum wage just pass the costs on to consumers. And since most places that pay minimum wage are frequented by people that make minimum wage — how exactly does increasing minimum wage increase actual purchasing power?

    An hour of minimum wage buys a burger, fries and a coke historically.

    And what about the people that make only slightly more than minimum wage? Do most companies give them an increase as well to maintain the difference in purchasing power between those two employees? I would think that people that make slightly more than minimum wage get screwed over.

  10. 00447447 says:


    Someone will correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that if someone makes a buck or two over minimum wage when the increase goes through, they usually get a small increase as well.

  11. shadowboxer524 says:

    And the more money that employers have to pay their workers, the more they have to charge for the goods/services they supply and/or cut back on employees.

    Raising minimum wage may help some people, which is good for them. But it may hurt those who need the goods/services whose prices were increased due to the minimum wage increase. It’s a terrible cycle, and for individuals, the chips fall where they land. I have a problem with minimum wage laws, but it’s sadly not something that can be fixed easily.

  12. boy says:

    A minimum wage job is just that…a minimum wage job. Anyone working one shouldn’t be trying to support themselves or much less a family. If you are, it’s time to find something new…if you can’t, chances are you f’d up somewhere along the way and there’s a reason for it. Sorry, no sympathy here.

    That said, why is this a bad thing? All the high school kids who should be working these jobs are probably happy about this, and the future increase coming next summer. Sure, it’s not much, but with today’s economy it’s something…

  13. inspiron says:

    Hey consumerist, Communist Cuba is just a short trip south, free market economics is what got us the standard of living we have now and screwing with and in some cases scraping free market economics is a fast track to totalitarianism and bread lines.

    Raising the minimum wage is just some easy way rich, out of touch, politicians can give the idea that they are taking care of the poor when in reality it is a move in the direction of socialism which we all know makes every one poor (expect for the ones who are connected with goverment who by there position are well taken care of with our tax money)

    If minimum wage is too little to live on then you’ll just have to get a second job, 80 hours a week is possible, Or train for a skilled job that makes more or if you can’t work then you can go to the church and they may provide your with charity.

    More goverment is NOT the answer.

  14. thisisnotkathy says:

    @00447447: Yeah, where I work we all got adjusted somewhere to the tune of 30-40 cents so that people who had been here longer wouldn’t get fucked over. That said, I had to wait 3 months after I was promised a raise for my promotion so that payroll could do it all at once :(

  15. loraksus says:

    Someone will correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that if someone makes a buck or two over minimum wage when the increase goes through, they usually get a small increase as well.


    Nice to see the other trolls have come out too.

    I’ve done 80 hour +10 hours travel a week before. Possible, but good luck finding 2 accommodating companies and good luck having any sort of family life. There is sure as hell no way to take care of kids if you have 2 full time jobs.

    Then again, one of those jobs was a month of “training”, sitting in a classroom. It still sucked.

  16. jstonemo says:

    @3drage: Exactly. I have a degree in Graphic Design and it pays jack sh*t even with 13 years experience. I am proud to say that I have a job that even the illegals won’t do because it doesn’t pay well.

  17. PunditGuy says:

    I love how the free market zealots crawl out of their holes whenever the minimum wage inches up a little. Don’t worry, folks — you can continue to pay illegal aliens whatever you want, or nothing at all.

    We need basic protections for labor in this country, or people get stepped on by industry. Minimum wage, workplace safety rules, harassment rules, child-labor laws — these things are all related, and they point to the fact that businesses can not be trusted with the well-being of their employees. There’s concrete historical evidence to back that up; by way of contrast, show me one time in history when increasing the minimum wage has led anywhere near to the economic armageddon soothsaid by the free marketers.

    More faith in enterprise is NOT the answer.

  18. Hongfiately says:

    “Minimum wage workers to get first pay raise in 12 years…” I loved seeing that old chestnut of a headline bandied about. Can I get a show of hands of those who were making minimum wage in 1996 and still making the same each year since then? Anyone? Anyone?

    Another favorite is to use people making above the minimum wage as a reason to raise the minimum wage. Andrew Tobias did this a few years ago in a Parade article. The facts are that when the government raises a price floor on wages, it expands the surplus of idle labor.

  19. Hongfiately says:

    @PunditGuy: Illegals are working for nothing? Where can I get one?

    Better idea: Enforce the border and eliminate minimum wage laws.

  20. krispykrink says:

    @boy: Oh, really?

    You know some people are born with disability’s and aren’t able to get the kind of education that you and I were able to get. They have a choice when they hit adulthood, work for minimum wage, possibly part time only or suck of the Government tit for your tax dollars. Which would you have them do?

  21. Jesse in Japan says:

    @ctaylor: The price you pay for a hamburger is not entirely made up from labor costs. Most of the money you spend still comes from the raw materials used in the making of the hamburger. Some of it also goes into rent and utilities and whatnot. Therefore, raising minimum wage 70 cents per hour does not raise the price of a hamburger 70 cents or even the requisite percentage. The amount of any price increases made to cover the increased labor costs (if such an increase even occurs) would be tiny compared to the increase in wages for the workers, who will then ultimately be able to purchase more hamburgers with their higher wages.

    This is really simple economics, people.

  22. rellog says:

    @3drage: That’s a moronic comparison. The fact is is that minimum raise workers haven’t enjoyed a wage increase in years, while I’d bet your profession has. You make it sound as if they’re handing out gold foil toilet paper for the poor to wipe their ass with.

  23. Hongfiately says:

    @krispykrink: Given the options, I vote minimum wage.

  24. rellog says:

    @Hongfiately: So you’re saying that minimum wage workers starting a job today shouldn’t get a bump for the cost of inflation?

    Christ people like you make me want to go bat shit. You whine and complain because people live on welfare, but you don’t want anyone to make a living wage either…
    Go buy some granite already…

  25. Hongfiately says:

    @rellog: My guess is the number of people making $5.15 each year from 1996-2008 is very small. It’s not a strong argument to humanize those making the minimum wage as if it’s a static group of people these 12 long years.

    N.B. That applies to all income strata or professions. “CEOs made 400% more this year than a migrant fruit-pickers.” “CEOs” is an across the board term, it isn’t human. Plus, if the fruit-picker is here illegally they can get in-state tuition rates that citizens cannot. Score!

    I think 3drage is employing a bit of hyperbole, but the point remains: when you raise a price floor, everything above it is devalued.

  26. Hongfiately says:

    @rellog: Did I whine and complain about welfare? Nope. Last I checked, President Clinton ended welfare as we knew it in 1996. But I digress.

    Define living wage. That’s rather arbitrary, isn’t it? Is $7.25 an hour enough? Why not $10? Why not $40? Why not $100? $100 an hour is a pretty good living wage for most metropolitan areas, right?

    What I’m saying is that a minimum wage worker who started at $5.15 an hour in 1996 and is STILL working for $5.15 an hour after twelve years absolutely deserves that pay rate because that’s what the market has determined he/she is worth.

    Almost no one falls into that category. Most either moved on to college, or advanced in their employment as skills were acquired via training or experience.

  27. cmdrsass says:

    Are teenagers considered the working poor now?

  28. Quatre707 says:

    @boy: I find that offensive, and I feel as though you’re naive in saying these things.

    I’ll use myself and my experiences as an example. I live in South-East Michigan, and we have the worst economy in the entire country. I work for a retailer with about 20 employees, and 3 members of management. The 20 make between $7.00 and $8.50 an hour, and 16 of them are part-time.

    Of these 16 part-time employees, most of which have been with us for over 18 months, 6 have bachelor’s degrees, and additional 6 have either associate’s degrees or equivalent certifications in the medical and technology fields. All of us continue our education while working, even though we originally had planned join the work force, because we can’t afford to start making payments on our tuition loans… attending school if our method of payment deferment.

    We fill positions that six years ago would have been filled by seniors in high school, or juniors in college, most which would start with our company as their first job. Now when these young job seekers applying to work, they are turned down, just like everywhere around here.

    I will be graduating from college in two months, but before I can graduate I must complete an internship in a relevant job position. Unfortunately for me, and my follow classmates, there are practically no internship opportunities available.
    Why? Because those with many years of work experience and already hold previous education credentials are desperately seeking work. Many of them are going back to school part-time just to use the career-guidance services of local universities and community colleges, getting internships hoping they will lead to a full-time job. From my point of view they are taking away my opportunities at internships. When I go in for an interview (for an unpaid internship), I find myself competing against someone with 20 years of experience in my field.

    Wow, typing all of that felt good.

  29. Hongfiately says:

    @Quatre707: How does raising the federal minimum wage to $6.55 help you and your colleagues when Michigan’s minimum wage is $7.40 per hour as of July 1? Have you seen the part-timers hours being cut after that boost at the first of the month?

    Also… why not move? There’s a lot of opportunity in the medical and technical fields down south and out west. Not sure if you’re in that group you described, though.

  30. Quatre707 says:

    @Hongfiately: I wasn’t directing my statement at this article, I was directing it at boy, who said:
    “All the high school kids who should be working these jobs are probably happy about this”

  31. SloppyChris says:

    Horray for unemployment!

  32. SloppyChris says:

    If an employer can only afford to hire someone for less than the minimum wage, then that employee can’t be hired. Now they’re unemployed instead of making some money. Is that better?

  33. Hongfiately says:

    @Quatre707: Point taken. But in most cases boy is right. With the poor economy in your area, however, this actually is going to put the squeeze on those kids. You’re working the jobs the kids should be working, and at the same time you are going up against people with loads of experience for internships. When the economy is in that sort of shape, the squeeze affects all levels.

    My in-laws live in northern Ohio, and their economy is going through similar tough times and has been for many years now. Most of it is due to the shift away from manufacturing. Once everyone is done blaming outsourcing (boo! hiss!), you wake up and have to figure out what to do about it. One thing they are doing is expanding services and technology initiatives, like the one at Lorain County Community College.

    That’s the way to go for your area, I think. Doesn’t help you pay the light bill this month, I know, but you’ve got a group of folks there in two fields that are hurting for people to fill jobs.

  34. P_Smith says:

    And the whole reason for the minimum wage (read: subsistence wage) being so low? The tying of health care to employment. Employers have to pay ridiculous premiums, meaning they can’t afford to pay living wages to employees.

    Back in 2002, the US and Canadian minimum wages were about equal, based the values of the respective dollars. Today, with the dollars being almost par (C$1=US$.99 or C$1.01=US$1) and the Canadian health care system, the US has dropped below the Canadian standard of living, even with the increase in the US minimum wage.


    Minimum Wage in Canada

    Updated: 07/02/08

    Province………..General Wage


    British Columbia…$8.00


    New Brunswick……$7.75



    Nova Scotia……..$8.10







  35. tli415 says:

    @P_Smith: I don’t know anyone who is actually paid the national minimum wage. Rest assured, 1.7 million out of the US population is about half a percent. Some states may not have a higher wage than the national minimum wage, but there are also local minimum wages. In San Francisco, the minimum wage is higher than the state minimum wage ($9.14/hour).

  36. etc says:

    “The nation’s top financial minds can’t tell us how the minimum wage effects the economy, but we’re sure our beloved cadre of ever-cheerful commenters not only knows for certain, but is willing to share.”

    Under what auspice do you claim this? Economists worldwide state the effects of an increase in minimum wage is inflation and unemployment…common sense dictates that? Was your snide remark an attempt at preemptively disarming the commenters; as if their credibility could be diminished at your behest?

    For shame.

  37. krispykrink says:

    Everyone here makes valid points in all their arguments.

    It’s kind of a double edged sword. I like seeing a good minimum wage for those that are disabled that want to actually be part of the work force. They have bills just like everyone else, and $6 in this day just ain’t gonna cut it. Yes, those people will get raises over time well above the minimum and the good thing in CA if you’re only making minimum, you qualify for MediCal and Foodstamps to help cover the gaps.

    The bad part, last time CA raised the limit the businesses I know either cut hours for staff or flat out fired people so they can pay those they kept. In the restaurant business this equates to higher price for the customer and less employees to cover the floor. Some businesses end up firing higher paid middle and upper management to keep the hourly workers, so the next time you have a fraked up time at Sears this is why.

  38. North of 49 says:

    BC has a training wage of about 6$/hr for the first 500 hrs in an employees lifetime of work.

    Even at 17$/hr, with benefits, this man I know can not support his family of 5. Wife can’t work because he’s on graveyard shift, or else she would be. Just not fair.

  39. smackswell says:

    I can’t believe some of you are so cold-hearted as to believe that minimum wage is fine, or that people who work at minimum wage should just “get a better paying job,” or that minimum wage shouldn’t exist at all.

    These are the people who prepare your food at Quizno’s, walmart, call centers of products you can’t figure out how to use, sell you magazines, wash your car, do your laundry, clean your hotel room, and the countless other jobs that you take for granted. If there was a $50,000/year job waiting for each of these people, you’d have to make your own god damned food, and make sure you scrubbed your hotel rooms toilets before you left.

    We don’t live in the shiny, perfect future where magical robots do all the dirty work and gourmet food shoots out of tubes. Our world is polluted and full of poor people trying to scrape by.

    So, look at minimum wage equivalents from 40 years ago. How many people in this country make over $10 an hour? Quite a few.

    But those who don’t make that much? Or who make nothing at all due to unemployment? Those numbers are staggering. People who make next to nothing buy the bare minimum. Which is just one more reason for recession.

    You don’t want to pay $5 bucks a gallon? Stop screwing over your fellow man. He wants that iPod too, and will buy it if he has enough left over after food and shelter. Besides, he’s the guy who had to deal with you complaining about your cup of soda being “breakfast sized.” Or have you refusing to pay cuz your pizza wasn’t delivered in 30 minutes or less. He should make more than you.

    Stop being a cheapskate. These are real people.

  40. kaptainkk says:

    In the 50s and 60s, we built the Interstate Highway system. Now we can’t even maintain it. We sent men to the moon and now we’re going to buy our heavy lift rockets from Japan. Health care used to be affordable but no
    more for a majority of citizens. Budweiser is no longer an American beer. Chrysler is no longer an American company. Medicare and Social Security are going broke. Foreign citizens are buying our expensive real estate. And it
    goes on and on….Next year, the minimum wage will rise to a whopping $7.25 per hour when, adjusted for inflation, the minimum wage in 1968 was $10.06 per hour. So
    all the minimum wage workers have managed to lose about $2.75 per hour in purchasing power in the last 40 years. And all the while, we’ve had the sacred goal of an ever growing “economy.” Apparently, the growth in the economy has been pretty selective in where it has settled. So on to the rhetorical question. Where has all the money gone? You don’t have to be an Einstein to answer that question. Can you say Wall Street? What all those poor boys need is yet another tax cut because it just ain’t fair enough yet.

  41. kaptainkk says:

    My last post, credit goes to – CREvans

  42. Whyspir says:


    Alberta’s is actually 8.50 right now…

    and it’s going up to 9 in the next couple months.

  43. Anticitizen says:

    Meh at Safeway wanting to start it’s employees at $8 an hour (California minimum)

    I started at $7.50. Not enough to get by in this world. I’ll agree that a minimum wage boost would likely stimulate the economy.

    Still, I do my American duty and blow some money on stuff I don’t need every paycheck. ;)

  44. kitsuneconundrum says:

    hey hey hey, i used to earn 15 dollars a day. 6.55 is pretty good. too bad the us dollar is in the buckets though.

  45. stinerman says:


    Which McD’s are you working at? The ones around me pay exactly $7.00/hr (the Ohio min wage) to start out.

  46. LJKelley says:

    You know not everyone’s life is perfect. We all make mistakes and apparently in America according to some people you should be fucked, You should receive no welfare or social care while you look for a job. If you get a job at McDonalds (or whatever Minimum Wage) you shouldn’t even remotely be able to bring yourself back on your feet.

    I love the answer to it all: Become religious and beg the church for money.

    I’m glad we had some sensible people that actually raised the minimum wage. I’m sorry you think working to create your burger so you can get a heart attack is doing nothing. They work hard and deserve to get paid enough to live.

  47. stinerman says:

    The best thing about all of this is that those pinko socialists in Europe have such high minimum wages and generous labor laws that common wisdom would have predicted their economies would have ground to a halt years ago.

    The highest national minimum wage I can find is in the UK where it’s £5.73. That’s about $11.39 give or take a few pennies due to exchange rate fluctuations.

    Somehow they can pay the least of their workers a decent wage, but we can’t.

  48. unpolloloco says:

    The problem with raising the minimum wage is that anyone not worth the new minimum wage is let go. Also, most people at minimum wage are high school students anyway.

  49. blong81 says:

    @inspiron: Thank you.

    @kaptainkk: It has gone to the government. Probably most of it the military industrial complex, since right about half of what the federal government spends is on the military and war. Oh and remember those inflation adjusted rates are adjusted to the governments inflations numbers, not the true inflation numbers, which are higher.

  50. blong81 says:

    @LJKelley: They choose how hard they want to work and earn what they choose to earn. Nobody’s forcing them to get a minimum wage job. Also, charities do work. Do some research and look at some history. When we weren’t giving so much damn money to the government, people gave charities wayyy more money, and guess what, they spent it more effectively and helped more people. The government will just give you money endlessly, it’s just paperwork. A charity will encourage you to help youself while they temporarily help you.

    Why send money to government when 70% of it will be used as administrative fees so less than 30% of it actually goes to help people when you can give the same amount of money to a charity (which relies on its reputation and honesty) and have over 90% of it go to help people.

    Sounds like the people advocating for governemnt to help people hate poor people more than anyone else.

  51. blong81 says:

    @Anticitizen: It won’t stimulate the economy. Maybe for a month people might splurge a little bit, but then guess what, prices are just going to go up to adjust for the new minimum wage.

  52. blong81 says:

    @smackswell: That’s a bunch of bull shit if I ever heard it. Those people are getting paid, it’s not like your mom making your food and doing your laundry etc. etc. It’s their job. There are ALWAYS going to be people that do these jobs, and they will do them willingly. Because they will get paid. If the pay was sooooo bad, people wouldn’t work there and the employer would have to raise the rate for that job to fill the position. Open you eyes and think about stuff a little bit more.

  53. blong81 says:

    @North of 49: They didn’t have to have 5 kids, and nobody is forcing him to have a night shift job. They’re obviously getting by and he chooses to go to that job.

  54. blong81 says:

    @Quatre707: You’re not trying hard enough. And you don’t have the worst economy. I’m just west of you in South West Michigan. Oh and nobody is making you stay in Michigan. I have a paid internship and I’ve gotten 2 offers for others but I like the one I am at.

  55. blong81 says:

    Oh and I’m sick of all you lazy bastard Americans bitching about the migrant workers coming here and working for less. They’re smart. They come here and undercut and take the jobs that not even the lazy ass piece of shit highschoolers will take and they do a good job. They make plenty of money and go home and are well off.

    All you bastards should make your kids get a job on a farm doing something other than being a casheir at a fruit stand and teach them the value of real work. It makes you apprecitate it when you can start working smart and get paid more for less effort since you’ve already worked hard and learned the value of money instead of bitching about your secretary job only paying $9 “but you work so hard”.

    Grow some balls and do some work for once.

  56. blong81 says:

    @boy: well, it’s also helped today’s economy be the way it is. drive the wage floor up, you are in effect lowering everyone else’s wages and driving prices for everything up therefore further lowering everyone’s wages.

  57. blong81 says:

    @3drage: Yea, makes me want to drop out and not even finish.

  58. PunditGuy says:

    @Hongfiately: You’ve seriously never heard of illegals getting stiffed instead of paid? I’m sure they’re just making it up.

    To the extent that illegals depress wages, you’re right — keeping the border secure should help increase some people’s paychecks. Guess what? I’m all for it. But I’m also for increasing the minimum wage.

  59. theczardictates says:

    @inspiron: “free market economics” is a naive myth, a bumper sticker slogan for people who happen to be doing well under the current rules.

    No market is “free”: every market is a game that is played under certain rules, and I’ve never yet met anybody who thinks that a market shouldn’t have *some* rules once they think about it clearly. Market manipulation? predatory pricing? monopolistic abuses? insider trading? mandatory binding arbitration imposed by companies that, oddly, always favors the company? legal enforcement of contracts? zoning laws? labeling laws? truth in advertising? If you agree that any of these things should be regulated, you don’t believe in “free” markets.

    The reality: everybody agrees that regulation is good for markets, the only thing we disagree about is the specifics of regulation.

    Personally, I prefer to live among people who understand the value of certain regulations in protecting our poorest, most economically powerless neighbors even when those regulations are the most economically favorable to us.

  60. theczardictates says:

    @blong81: If the pay was sooooo bad, people wouldn’t work there and the employer would have to raise the rate for that job to fill the position.

    You are so right. They have choices. If they don’t like the pay they should go and be CEOs or Wall St traders. Or starve to death.

    Look, the real world is a lot more complex than the “supply and demand” you learned in high school economics or what you heard on some radio talk show. Yes, the pay CAN be “sooooo bad”, and the conditions too (look at the people working in insanely dangerous factories and mines). Wages aren’t price markets like cars and MP3 players and PS3s and all the other material trinkets that populate your privileged little undergraduate existence.

    One of the factors that make markets work is what each party’s “next best aleternative” to making the deal is. If you don’t like the price on an iPhone, you can live without it. If you don’t like the wage on the only job available to you, you can’t live without it.

    Open you eyes and think about stuff a little bit more.

    Excellent suggestion. Sounds like you’re in college — I suggest some economics classes, especially on the dynamics of labor markets.

  61. theczardictates says:

    @theczardictates: when those regulations are the most economically favorable to us

    D’oh. “aren’t…”. Way to blow the punchline.

  62. Vilgrom says:

    @theczardictates: Thank you, I was just in the process of formulating the very same response.

    A “free market” just sounds so nice and simple and free. People buying and selling, happily, forever and ever, with no fear of intervention by clueless government officials. That’s just not the reality.

  63. blong81 says:

    @theczardictates: My privileged little undergraduate existence?

    HA! Get over yourself. Sounds like you should take some classes and then we can compare notes.

    Give me ONE example of ONE place where there is only a SINGLE job available for people to choose. This place doesn’t exist. And if it did, there would be prostitutes there so there would be more than one job. Not even a jail with one job inmates can work. There would be money for sex there too.

    Go ahead, I’m waiting.

  64. RabbitDinner says:

    @tli415: Great! Round it down to zero and forget about it!

  65. snoop-blog says:

    The thing that kills me is if you were making $7 an hour, they don’t up your pay by 70 cents. That’s why I don’t believe that it will have any impact on inflation. That and the fact that 20 some states already have a higher minimum wage. I say, too little too late, how anyone is surviving on less than $8 per hour is beyond me. I know when I was working pud restaurant jobs, I had to have a side hustle to make it work.

  66. chuckv says:

    Doesn’t anybody realize that minimum wage creates forced unemployment among low skilled workers? If my labor is worth $5 an hour to me and $6 an hour to McDonalds, they’ll hire me and we’ll both be happy for $5.50 an hour. If the minimum wage is increased to over $6, we both loose out on the 50 cents of consumer surplus we would have gotten had we been allowed to transact. Thing like this are examples of deadweight loss which beset the economy every time new regulations are imposed.

  67. chuckv says:

    Therefor minimum wage hurts the poor much for than it helps them.

  68. eveywiechert says:

    As for the “most people’s wages will go up equally” thing, at least not where I work. If you’re making anything under $6.55/hour now, that’s what you’re getting now is $6.55/hour. If you’ve gotten raises above, you just stay there, even if it’s $6.56/hour. Our base pay was $6.00/hour. . . it’s annoying when I realize that my schoolmates who sleep and play WoW at “work” are getting paid the same as I am for real work.

  69. JohnMc says:

    smackwell, yes do get a better paying job is the answer. Minimum wage was never intended as the basis for a ‘living wage’ whatever that means. But someone today who has not over the years attempted to improve their skills and is still on minimum wage, well they deserve their fate.

    I started at the bottom and worked my way up the economic ladder. But it took effort and not sitting on my ass watching American Idol every week. Sound harsh? Maybe but it is the fact of life.

    AS an aside, my wife is from europe. She had minimial english skills when she got here. Even so she started at a retailer here for $10/hr. She’s now a buyer making triple that. So for those that moan about the living wage garbage — go fly a kite.

  70. blong81 says:

    @eveywiechert: Tell you’re boss and get them fired. Then maybe you’ll get a raise for your productivity.

  71. blong81 says:

    @JohnMc: Thank you.

  72. k6richar says:

    I live in Ontario, it is $8.75 now and will go up 75 cents next March and again the March after that.

  73. RayDelMundo says:

    The good news is that if these people need more money they can get a 2nd or 3rd job.

  74. Consumerist-Moderator-Roz says:

    @blong81: Your comment is inappropriate and inflammatory. Flaming other posters in this manner is completely unacceptable. Rea the comment code and behave yourself.

  75. snoop-blog says:

    Some people are so narrow minded and judgemental of the folks who work minimum wage jobs,… what a shame. I hope those folks get their fast food orders messed with or spit on. It’s called Karma.

  76. blong81 says:
  77. Trai_Dep says:

    Wow, if only we could hire children to work 20 hour, 7-day workweeks at $0.20/hr. What a Republican paradise this would be. Or Communist (same diff these days, really).

  78. RabbitDinner says:

    @chuckv: thank you, mr. bernanke. which econ 101 textbook did you plagiarize?

  79. snoop-blog says:

    @chuckv: I’d rather be on unemployment, than work a crappy job for $5 an hour.

  80. Nofsdad says:

    And now the Governator wants to pay low level state employees the federal minimum, (the difference to be paid on that magic day when he finally does all thast stuff he said he was going to do when he took office) while he and the legislature go through their annual Great State Budget Dog and Pony Show. Go figure.

  81. TPS Reporter says:

    This can be all pie in the sky and good feelings like it is helping the people making minimum wage. But the reality is that an employer is providing a service to somebody. And that service can only cost that employer a certain amount of money and still make a profit. Is what’s going to happen is employers are going to get rid of people to pay the remaining employees more money, or if they can absorb this cost, then when business increases, they will not hire another employee and these people will be working even harder for the low wages they are making. I’m not sure if I agree with the gov’t madating this, but if they are, then in order for it to really make a difference, it’s needs to be a higher wage.

  82. Hawk07 says:

    Democrats continually blast Bush for some of his economic policies. Ok, I’ll give you that because some of it is fair critcism.

    But, what economist anywhere has ever said artificial minimum wage controls is a good thing?

  83. snoop-blog says:

    @MrBill38: I don’t know about that. Most jobs are already paying more than the federal minimum. If a business can’t afford to pay a living wage, than maybe they shouldn’t be in business. If a business can only afford to pay it’s workers $4 an hour, Why should it be allowed to stay in business?

  84. snoop-blog says:

    There are people willing to make a couple dollars a day and slave at a sweat shop. Now granted the shop owners are making a killing but for example lets say that’s all they could afford to pay it’s workers in order to stay in business. See my point?

  85. MitchV says:

    Wooooooooosh….. nobody gets it.

    This is Sociology 101 folks. An employed individual is paid according to how easily that individual can be replaced.

    in other words…

    If you have a boss and you cannot be easily replaced, you are well compensated.

    in other words…

    If you have a boss and you can EASILY be replaced because your position requires little training/education OR because many people desire your job, you will NOT be well compensated.

    I’m somebody can find an exception, but those statements hold true 99.9% of the time. It’s so simple, yet few people get it.

    That being said, minimum wage provides the masses with *just enough* not to rebel. Put whatever spin you want on it, but that is why minimum wage exists. Chris Rock made me laugh when I once heard him say

    “You know what that means when someone pays you minimum wage? You know what your boss was trying to say? It’s like, ‘Hey if I could pay you less, I would, but it’s against the law.'”

  86. Kitteridge says:

    I remember being completely startled when, at a young age, I realized that “a living wage” did not equal “40 hours at minimum wage.” I’m still stunned by that today.

    Maybe I am a socialist, but the two things ought to dovetail.

  87. 6a says:

    @Trai_Dep: Leave out the ‘children’ part and you’ve described prison work quite well!

  88. snoop-blog says:

    @MitchV: I love that Chris Rock line! I can hear him saying it in my head right now.

  89. bohemian says:

    There were certain people wailing that this small much overdue wage increase was going to be the demise of business and every restaurant was going to close its doors. That is nothing but scare tactics brought to you by tightwad business owners.

    I’m ancient enough to remember the last min wage increase in the 90’s. It did cause the going rate for most lower end jobs to go up slightly as employers didn’t want to seem to be paying those employees a bit down a bracket in pay.

    As far as low paying jobs, the way I look at it is someone has to do those jobs for our society to function. Someone has to sling fries, clean hotel rooms and pick up after the masses of lazy slobs in public areas. If we expect someone to do these jobs they deserve to be able to make a living wage. Thinking of them as transition jobs that we can abuse means there will be constant turnover and those unable to move themselves to the next job bracket are doomed to a miserable existance. Just remember this next time you complain about crappy service from those low paying jobs.

  90. razdigital says:

    Its set to rise again in 2009 to $7.25. I wonder what kind of impact this will have on mid level jobs. Will they be also inflated as well? With the slowing economy will employers tend to layoff more people than hire to meet these demands?

    a list of present and future wages by states:

  91. bohemian says:

    @snoop-blog: If I find out an employer is grossly underpaying their employees or otherwise screwing them over I quit patronizing it. I’m sure there is some circular argument about me making things worse if the place goes out of business.

  92. snoop-blog says:

    @bohemian: Well the people you are speaking to would have to understand how a civilized society works and how were supposed to look out for one another to grasp that concept. Lets face it, we are all doomed when this ME! ME! ME! generation takes over.

  93. Hongfiately says:

    @PunditGuy: Getting stiffed and agreeing to work for less are two different things. When you’re in the country illegally working in an underground market, you are at its mercy.

  94. odoketa says:

    @etc I’m calling bullshit on your “Economists worldwide state the effects of an increase in minimum wage is inflation and unemployment…common sense dictates that?” I worked with some of the top economists in the world, and their response was mixed. If there were a simple answer, there wouldn’t be a problem. ‘Common sense’ isn’t always the way the maths work out.

  95. Hongfiately says:

    @theczardictates: The strength of the free market is in the freedom to fail or succeed, not just to succeed.

  96. Silversmok3 says:

    Heres the facts on the ground:

    Any increase in payroll expenses by large business will trigger layoffs, not raises.If every minumum wage employee costs $.50 more per hour to keep, someone’s gotta go.

    By raising the minimum wage Washington just cost thousands of workers their jobs.

  97. milkcartel says:

    @inspiron: Actually socialist economies set wages *below* market clearing levels and allocate workers to firms based on centrally planned input and output targets. Firms would take workers they didn’t need and have them sit around incase anything came up since they were so cheap.

    Minimum wage laws basically compensate for the fact that labour markets aren’t perfect. Low wage workers don’t know all available jobs and what they pay (most jobs don’t advertise wages, you find out when they offer you the job and it’s “rude” to ask) nor do they face frictionless job searchs. Transportation costs, time costs, and the practice of withholding the first paycheque all make job searching and job switching costly. Employers can take advantage of this fact and minimum wages help out low wage workers. A free market solution would be great but the real world isn’t always like Econ 101.

  98. snoop-blog says:

    I disagree. McDonalds still has a now hiring sticker in the window, and they are still open 24/7.

  99. Hongfiately says:


    Chris Rock made me laugh when I once heard him say

    “You know what that means when someone pays you minimum wage? You know what your boss was trying to say? It’s like, ‘Hey if I could pay you less, I would, but it’s against the law.'”

    I once heard the owner of a local restaurant say basically that when he said, “Yeah, they need to raise the minimum wage. My man in the back could use the money.”

  100. milkcartel says:

    @Silversmok3: That isn’t a *fact*. That’s your opinion. Unless you’ve performed somesort of empirical study using data that won’t be available for months?

    My opinion is higher minimum wages will boost wages close to the minimum wage to maintain the wage differential and result in less jobs and more people wanting jobs in the low-wage sector. But that isn’t a fact, it’s just what I think.

  101. 3drage says:

    @blong81: You really need to have your posting privs revoked.

  102. Trai_Dep says:

    Most of the Blue states have minimums higher than the Federal minimum wage. By the logic of the Freepers, NYC, MA, WA, and CA should have unemployment well above the national average and the jobs available must be worse since all the “good” businesses are driven out of the state. The opposite is true.
    It must sting when reality rains on one’s blind ideology.

  103. Hongfiately says:

    @snoop-blog: Me too. Would I take a little less in the pocketbook to avoid a crappy job? You betcha.

  104. snoop-blog says:

    @Silversmok3: Okay, but you do realize that 20 some odd states already have a higher minimum wage than the federal, which means that in 20 some states your opinion is moot.

    Plus with the way the economy has been lately, any employee a place could do without, has already been fired…

  105. 00447447 says:


    Cry me a fucking river.

  106. snoop-blog says:

    @Trai_Dep: As political as you are ON EVERY POST, it actually is appropriate here. And that is not to say I don’t agree with your comments, as I generally do. To the point, you are now my friend :)

  107. Hongfiately says:

    @Kitteridge: What is the living wage rate? $10/hr? $25/hr? $100/hr?

  108. Ah yes, the Federally Mandated Price Increase.

    Every employee got a raise this week (most entry level employees have wages tied to a multiple of the minimum wage), and I will be sure to pass on those wage increases in the price of my products.

  109. snoop-blog says:

    @Corporate-Shill: Ummm, sorry but I noticed the price of every product going up years before we got this wage increase…

  110. dangermike says:

    oh boy, this is a fun thread.

    I’ll just chip in and say that I don’t know anyone making minimum wage and absolutely can’t fathom the idea of anyone trying to support themselves on it, much less a family. But I have a strong suspicion that very few minimum wage owners lie outside of three major groups — interns, unproven unskilled workers, and apprentices. Even in the lowest of the low of unskilled positions like fast food and movie theaters, all my friends in high school who filled those jobs were making a dollar or two over minumum wage. I have friend in his early 40’s who is kind of a burn out, spending almost every day after work getting high on pot and drinking about as much beer as he can afford. He always has little nothing jobs but he shows up to work everyday, presents himself professionally, and gets his work done in a timely manner. With no college background and no skills beyond driving and being extremely polite to those around him, his jobs pull in 50-100% over minimum wage. Myself, even when I was in college, I never worked for less than double the minimum wage.

    Anyway, I just can fathom why anyone over 19 or 20 would be making the minimum. It’s basically an invitation from the employer to find other work. If an employee is any good, it is in the employer’s best interest to pay more to retain a valuable worker. And if anyone ever tries to suppot themselves on it (I think it’s 8.50 in California now, with the slimiest ghetto apartments in the area running 800-1000/month) they’ll quickly realize a need to develop some kind of skill. So I’m pretty indifferent to the wage hike. I don’t think it’s going to help anyone, I *really* don’t buy into the BS of poor people needing help supporting themselves, and I have a feeling the ultimate impact on my own life would be a slightly higher matinee price or a longer line at the liquor store.

  111. Super1984 says:

    The shortsighted selfishness of several of the posters is quite disturbing.

    @blong81: Do you honesting think someone says to him/herself: “I could take this job that pays $11/hour, but you know what? I rather take this job that pays minimum wage instead.”?

    @SloppyChris: Well, considering most businesses have raised prices in the last 12 years, somehow I think a small increase in the minimum wage won’t cause them to go under.

    Minimum wage desperately needs to be indexed to inflation.

  112. snoop-blog says:

    @dangermike: Well you are greatly wrong in your assumption of who the minimum wage workers are. But at least in your first sentence you admit you have no clue. There is no age limit on minimum wage jobs, If you ever worked one, you would know that.

  113. JoeTan says:

    Minimum wage is the worst thing to happen to business in general. If you have no skills you should get no money.

  114. snoop-blog says:

    @dangermike: You know there are a lot of uneducated people in this country. By that I mean, without a highschool education even. And granted you can be like other commenter here and sit on a high horse and say, well they deserve it, but I look at the broader side of how a society works which means I believe these people still deserve to make a living wage, even when their skills are only minimal enough to land a minimum wage job.

  115. VeeKaChu says:

    @blong81: drive the wage floor up, you are in effect lowering everyone else’s wages

    That’s the most unintentionally hilarious comment I’ve seen in a while. My wage is not impacted in the least, nor is it- or was it ever- calculated against, or based upon a minimum wage in any effective way.

    I will grant you, I may see a slight rise in the cost of goods and services from this, but my wage is not lowered at all. Hyperbolic much?

    Hey, here’s an idea you can probably get behind; let’s slash taxes for our wealthiest citizens (both private and corporate) and then maybe they won’t hoarde that windfall and then maybe they’ll invest in more McD’s and car washes and WalMart’s and such, and really give the economy the boost it so desperately needs!

  116. snoop-blog says:

    Plus some workers with disabilities work these jobs because that’s all they can do with their condition. These people also deserve a living wage.

  117. Hongfiately says:

    @Trai_Dep: Anybody arguing that the minimum wage negatively affects the overall unemployment rate isn’t on solid ground. There are only 1.7 million people making the minimum wage. Losing a small percentage of those workers isn’t going to make too much of a dent in the overall unemployment rate. Some will will lose jobs, but what is more likely to happen is that hours get cut to make up for the increase in labor cost.

    That said, the opposite is also not true. Higher minimum wage laws don’t attract “good” jobs or improve the overall economic picture. Even local economies are complex, state economies more so, and the national economy even more so.

    [Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics]

  118. battra92 says:

    @Kitteridge: Not really. Minimum wage is not intended to be a living wage. Why should Mr. Bossman pay the 13 year old kid who sweeps up more? He can get another kid to do the job and be very happy to have that money so why bother.

    Supply and demand works for wages. If your skills are that low that you are making minimum wage you need to reevaluate things.

    Heck, I worked my way through college at one $8 an hour job and one at $7.50 and hour and managed to save every penny I could. I had no social life but I made it through.

  119. stinerman says:


    Generally speaking if you can make it so that the increase in wages among those making min. wage is less than the corresponding increase in prices, your job is done.

    If my wages go up 2% due to the min. wage going up and the cost of goods/services go up 1%, I’ve gained.

    No one has ever said that an increase in the min. wage is beneficial to everyone. It’s beneficial to the poorest people, generally at the expense of everyone else.

  120. battra92 says:

    @Trai_Dep: I’d like to see that compared to how many state jobs are in those states. I know in New York and MA there are a lot of people who work for the state vs. other states.

  121. snoop-blog says:

    @battra92: and sweat shops can find people to work for $2 per day, so why bother to pay anyone any more? Get real.

  122. mythago says:

    I assume that if wages plummet, all those poor suffering corporate entities will slash their prices to compensate.


  123. RabbitDinner says:

    There is one alternative to minimum wage jobs for the underskilled and undereducated-consider acting

  124. dragonfire1481 says:

    @JoeTan: This is already true. Just because there is a minimum wage doesn’t mean you are obligated to hire morons to work for you. If you don’t think someone has what it takes, then don’t hire them, plain and simple.

    I agree with whoever said minimum wage should be indexed with inflation, but unfortunately corporations want to keep the wages as low as they realistically can to keep profits high and they will sic the lobbyists and the ginormous “campaign contributions” on any politician or agency that attempts to create such a correlation.

    Corporations don’t WANT to pay high wages, they WANT to make high profits. Those don’t exactly go hand in hand.

  125. SexierThanJesus says:

    @00447447: Compassionate conservatives abound.

  126. SexierThanJesus says:

    @JoeTan: They’re called “sweatshops.” You might dig them a little more.

  127. dry-roasted-peanuts says:

    @SexierThanJesus: “compassionate conservative” is just spin for liberal Republican, where, instead of wanting government programs out of social responsibility, they want them based on a moral/religious responsibility.

  128. katylostherart says:

    i think it’s kind of funny that so many people say if you increase the minimum wage it creates forced unemployment and more inflation.

    simple thing is, if you give more money to spend, spend it they will. this isn’t an astronomical increase. it won’t be an astronomical increase to 7.25.

    if you pay your community a wage for necessity and luxury they will return the favor buy giving you back the money in the form of payment for goods and services. i can’t believe no one’s mentioned that between all the damn the poor they should work harder or get more jobs or better jobs and blah blah blah.

    simple simple idea, if your employee is your potential customer (which really at this level of employment ALL of your employees give back some of their paycheck in the form of business to you) then you want to pay them enough to spend on wants. if you bankrupt your customer by not paying them a wage where they can afford to patronize your business, then you bankrupt yourself.

  129. NTC-Brendan says:

    From earlier:
    “You don’t want to pay $5 bucks a gallon? Stop screwing over your fellow man. He wants that iPod too, and will buy it if he has enough left over after food and shelter.”

    Right there is part of the problem and why the “working poor” are mired in the stuff they are mired in. No end-game and choices that demand gratification now instead of putting off that gratification until it is fiscally and spiritually feasible. If that guy working the minimum wage job took that IPod money and spent it on something other than a luxury good that might be “A Good Thing”.

    That same $200-$400 could go towards books, seminars, classes, or lord forbid saving. Our most powerful tool for manufacturing wealth and changing our family tree is our money, even if we don’t have a lot of it. Does life sometimes deal folks a rotten hand? ABSOLUTELY. Who is responsible for us getting out of these messes? US and no one else. Pull yourself up by the bootstraps and deal. Does someone working a $15k/year job have bigger fish to fry than an IPod? Uh…. YEAH….

    And before I get hammered; I grew up without a lot of money or a pedigree. I had to get a waiver signed by sainted Mother so I could start working at a local restaurant at age 14. I finished HS early because I felt like I was getting a better education and advancing my cause more by being in the workforce. By my 21st birthday I managed 2 small “mom and pop” retail stores and had worked countless other gigs from retail to restaurants to roofing, all while mixing in classes at the local CC, seminars, etc.

    You can stay minimum wage and cry “woes it me” or you can use it as fuel. Did working 2 jobs at a time suck? Of course it did, fortunately it was only temporary. Were a lot of jobs tantamount to fly excrement? At times, but I was glad to have them and was better for the experience (both on the resume and spiritually).

    You pay a price and you get ahead. Not by trampling your fellow man but by bettering yourself and hopefully doing some good along the way. If you can put off that IPod and use that min-wage job as a catapult then you can win. It is up to you and no one else.

  130. Alereon says:

    I strongly recommend reading Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle for a contemporary look at what working life was before the minimum wage. While the book is well known for its indictment of food handling and production practices, that’s only a small fraction of the book. The reality of life is that without unions, a minimum wage, and strong worker protection laws, workers will be forced to work ridiculously long work weeks in horrendous conditions for absurdly low wages. We already tried this in America, and it sucked.

  131. battra92 says:

    @snoop-blog: But I refuse to work for $2 a day as most Americans wouldn’t. What minimum wage really does is disqualify the real losers from the job pool (i.e. those only worth $2 a day) but from an economics standpoint, society and the market tend to iron out wages anyway.

    I also don’t buy the disabilities angle. Working minimum wage jobs usually aren’t sit around do nothing jobs and there are plenty of handicapped people working in blue and white collar jobs.

  132. battra92 says:

    @NTC-Brendan: You sin, win the internet!

    Also, there are plenty of other ways to improve your situation. Education is definitely one of the best (and this can be through apprenticeship or college) Moving is another one.

    @Alereon: The reality of life is that without unions …

    The reality is that without unions a lot of people would still have jobs and Michigan wouldn’t be in the situation it’s in now. Why do you think VW is opening a plant in Tennessee and Hyundai and Toyota run American plants already while Ford, GM and Chrysler are closing them?

  133. snoop-blog says:

    @NTC-Brendan: A lot of people DO use it as fuel, but not everyone has the desire, motivation, or more importantly, the ability to do so. The reality is, that 45 year old fast food worker, is not going to be motivated to go back to school simply because they work a shitty job. Nor should they have to. They should be able to live off of minimum wage.

    Not everybody is a go getter, but that doesn’t mean that they deserve to get nothing. I really don’t think $8 per hour is that unreasonable for minimum wage jobs.

  134. ludwigk says:

    @tli415: @Silversmok3: @milkcartel: 29 States have already enacted minimum wages that are higher than the national minimum wage, and there is a direct correlation between states that have a higher minimum wage than the national, and states that have a stronger relative economy.

    The sentiment that raising the minimum wage will “instantly” result in job loss is highly refutable on the grounds that the majority of workers at or near minimum wage are already making more than the new national minimum wage. I highly suspect that Silversmok3 read a pamphlet on Econ 101 one day, and decided he understood the national job market.

    I’m not saying its causal, but contrary to traditional economic theory, increasing the local minimum wage did not destroy the low-end job market, or cripple consumer spending, or create a welfare state of unemployed. As tlia415 said, her in San Francisco, the minimum wage is $9.14. Practically everyone that I know, even people working entry-level retail make more than this. Food service positions also make more than this. So, I dont really know what role a national minimum wage plays, but it is meaningless for all Californians, and people in the 28 other states that have a higher min. already.

  135. snoop-blog says:

    @NTC-Brendan: @battra92: You guys are fighting a already lost battle. Apparently 29 states and the federal goverment disagrees with your way of thinking, and quite frankly so do I, and all of the reasonable adults that I know. Your views are skewed and a little extreme and that’s why it’s no accepted by the majority of society. It’s not always about ME!ME!ME!, which I’m glad you was able to better yourself, but not everyone is like you, or should even have to strive to be you. The prices of everything has been consistently increasing to the point where the majority of the people feel like a raise in the minimum wage is justified, and here in the good ole USA, the majority rules.

  136. TechnoDestructo says:


    Prices on other things continue to rise regardless of the labor costs of a burger, fries, and a coke. People who earn minimum wage do spend their money on things other than burgers, fries, and cokes. (In fact, the ones who are making their money by preparing burgers, fries, and cokes can often get their burgers, fries, and cokes for free.)

  137. theczardictates says:

    @All the people making the simplistic claim that raising the minimum wage puts the lowest paid out of work: You’re making the simplistic assumption that minimum wage workers are already being paid the most that a company can economically justify. The reality is, they are being paid the least a company get away with.

    If the wages rise, companies can make lots of adjustments including, but not limited to, reducing their margins, improving efficiency, cutting back on perks for overpaid executives, squeezing their suppliers, raising prices, …

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Arguments that treat wages and workers as simplistic supply and demand markets are just plain wrong. Please stop posting them, however much they may help stop feeling pity for people on the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder.

    “The market” isn’t some magic wand that fairly distributes the spoils of commerce to each according to the value of their contribution

  138. theczardictates says:

    …and for those who need everything reduced to bumper sticker terms:

    Markets can be free, fair, and effecient. Choose any two from three.

  139. Etoiles says:

    Has anyone in this godforsaken thread ever been among the working poor?

    I graduated with an MFA in a really, really terrible job market. I had student loans to pay and bills to pay (fortunately for me, at the time I lived with a partner whose salary was enough, just, to cover our one-bedroom apartment for a time). I went to temp agencies, but they all looked at my years of Massachusetts-based experience and said, “Well, what do you have here in the [New York] city?” None of them “counted” my experience. So I worked at minimum wage for GameStop for 7 months, while I was temping and interviewing around the sides.

    I am, in fact, highly educated and a pretty bright, if I do say so myself. And, as one would hope, I got out of the minimum-wage circuit and have had a pleasant, upward career track since then. Good for me. But it is not so for everyone. When I started my first job, at CVS, for minimum wage when I was 16, I remember seeing how small my paychecks were after taxes and being SHOCKED that adults — grown people! with kids! — were doing this same job and trying to support their families.

    In the meantime, the New York minimum wage went up while I had that GameStop job. The three of us at the bottom of the pay ladder (everyone else had been there more than a year and so made at least $1 more than we did) got our $0.40 increase. No-one went out of business. No-one’s hours were slashed. The store suddenly didn’t stop making money, and prices didn’t go up. Amazingly enough, the entire city kept functioning exactly as normal and no-one seemed to notice the wage increase except the New York Times staff writers, who wrote about it once or twice.

    An hour of minimum-wage work should at least cover the transportation to & from the job. In NYC, I paid $4 a day. A gallon of gas is about the same, now — and about what you get after your taxes. We are rife with economic problems but the minimum wage is really not at the top of the list of them.

  140. stefbakes says:

    While I could really care less what minimum wage is, I find it upsetting that some people think that working “flipping burgers” should not be used to support yourself.

    Where I live those are the only jobs available unless you’re a nurse. Even with two B.S.s, it’s nearly impossible to get a job anywhere. I refuse to become a nurse (something I have absolutely no interest in) just so I can get enough money to buy food. Moving is not an option either. I don’t think people understand that some people HAVE to support themselves working the drive-thru.

  141. cadieg says:

    just as a possibly interesting anecdote: i live in albuquerque, and in santa fe 4 years ago they raised the minimum wage to $8.50, then $9.50 in ’06 and now $10.50 this year. santa fe is a ridiculously expensive place to live, with home prices at around twice the national average. at the time of the increase, a lot of people in santa fe were really upset about this (business owners in particular). now, 4 years later…. santa fe still exists and thrives. and maybe, juuuuust maybe, those who aren’t qualified for decent/middle class style jobs are living a little bit easier.

  142. @3drage:

    What a totally illogical way to look at this issue.

    1. People working crap jobs making .70 an hour more has ZERO impact on the standard wage in your profession, unless you work a crap job too.

    2. Graphic design, with some minor exceptions, and specifically when working in a digital format, is such a over saturated job market that it is not surprising at all that wages are being driven down and having a degree, no offense, is worthless anymore.

    There is really very little that you can not learn yourself with little more than a passing interest and small investment in a software suite.

    Most people, being hired at an entry level, go in somewhat over qualified and as noted under paid. Ultimately your hired based on your eye for design, not the paper that says you went to school for it.

    The same is true radio, audio production and a lot of general conceptual design work.

    You shouldn’t feel a sense of entitlement because you got a degree and learned the same thing some high school kid did with a copy of Photoshop, an knack for current design trends and some self determination.

    3) If your dream job doesn’t pay well or isn’t hiring…. Suck it up and do something else. Or smash down the doors and really “WOW” them.

    4) Get over it. Workers wages have not kept up with inflation, and to call it a “raise” illustrates a fundamental lack of understanding. People making minimum wage make less, adjusted for inflation, than they did 10 years ago.

    5) Blame outsourcing and an increase in the number of HS1B visas issued if your college degree is now worthless — not poor people who were just tossed an extra 70cents an hour — especially considering that MOST states have a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum.

    I got fairly distracted towards the end so if it is fairly redundant, i apologize.

  143. Musician78 says:

    It’s pretty fricken sad that we need to have a law mandating what the minimum amount of money we can legally pay people for their time is, but whatever.

  144. Karmakin says:

    Someone. Has. To. Work. These. Jobs.

    For the most part, we’re not talking about optional jobs that can be trimmed here. These are crucial, business-critical labors that need to be done. You can’t sell burgers unless someone is making them. Someone has to mop the floors. Someone has to take out the trash. Someone has to work the counter.

    The actual value-add of these jobs are massive. Much more than these jobs actually pay. And that’s the thing, you’re not paid according to value, you’re paid according to a customary social structure. The “market” has nothing to do with it.

    While there IS a slight chance, that some businesses will no longer be in business with the new labor math, quite frankly, we should be happy to see them go, as they’ll be replaced with better jobs. That’s the whole point.

    And while education is a very good micro solution, it is NOT a macro solution. Someone. Has. To. Work. These. Jobs. And it’s clear that the market for these jobs has utterly failed. Want to slash wages? You know where the biggest labor waste is? It’s at the upper levels. It’s in management. But they’re the last to go (and trust me, they’re starting to go), because you don’t shit in your own backyard.

  145. snowburnt says:

    @boy: summer jobs are seasonal, they aren’t affected by minimum wage

  146. nikalseyn says:

    Anyone who works at minimum wage for more than a few months is a moron. Get off your lazy ass, learn a skill and be something more than a deadbeat.

  147. peter_in_paris says:

    I think we should raise the minimum wage to 8.71 euros (almost 14 dollars), just like in France where the dishwashers and secretaries receive the same pay, and architects with 6 years of schooling make a whopping 30 percent more!!

  148. thelushie says:

    @3drage: That is not your decision.

    Who spit in everyone’s cereal this morning? Geez, this thread is getting to pre-commenter’s code level.

    I am glad they have raised the minimum wage. I have some friends who make (barely) above minimum who are now getting a raise.

    Here is a free career counseling tip: When you are going to college or grad school, before you pick what you want to do when you grow up, go to O*NET and look up your chose dream profession and see what the projections are. If it is projected that there will be less demand than average, pick something else!

  149. Silversmok3 says:

    I didn’t read a pamphlet. I went to college and spent years working my ass off @ minimum wage to pay for it.

    You want evidence: Ive been laid off from one of my jobs because of the rise in payroll from IL raising the min. wage.Not directly mind, but my district was losing money, and a higher payroll expense + the sales losses led to the cutbacks of two from my store (among others)to offset the losses.

    I do dearly apologize to all Consumeristi who feel I need a 10 page statistical study to post a freakin’ comment.

    As far as the greater economy goes, forget minimum wage. Pass a national Usury law retroactive 10 years, and that will help the working poor way better than a $1 an hour increase.

  150. Dabigkid says:

    @Hongfiately: Standard economics says that a price floor causes a surplus. That is true, but unless you know the elasticities of supply and demand, economics says nothing about how big the surplus will be.

    Most labor economists will tell you that the minimum wage has a negligible effect on unemployment. That’s because somewhere in the equation, the supply and/or demand of labor is pretty inelastic.

    The surplus argument is a lame argument.

    The real arguments against the minimum wage are 1) a lot of minimum wage workers are just kids from middle class suburbia. These kids don’t need their wages protected.

    And 2) minimum wage is a way of transferring wealth to the poor that goes to employers and consumers of unskilled labor. There are better ways to transfer wealth to the working poor than to stick the price on that small group of people. If you’re hiring 10 minimum wage workers, the .70 boost will cost a business $14,000. A large sum of that goes to consumers, and it really hurts those local businesses that all of those liberals seem to adore over big chains like Mickey D’s, which have the advantage of economies of scale.

    There are better ways to transfer wealth to the working poor, e.g. the earned income tax credit.

  151. Dabigkid says:

    @Dabigkid: OK, sorry, I should have said that a price floor causes a surplus only if the price floor is above the equilibrium price. You know what I meant. Bah.

    And when I said “minimum wage is a way of transferring wealth to the poor that goes to employers and consumers of unskilled labor,” I meant that the COST goes to those people, not the actual wealth transfer.

    Anyway, I really hate you people who use the unemployment argument as an argument against minimum wage. Stop giving free market economics a bad name! It’s such a bad argument considering the main reason the minimum wage sucks is because it’s just an overall bad way to transfer wealth to the poor.

  152. etc says:


    Oh, the Democratic shill who makes fallacious assumptions, and speaks of foreign countries he knows nothing about. All of a sudden Republicans are being equated to Communists now? Do you not realize how foolish you look?

    Do you actually ADD anything to any discussion, or do you just see it each post as a way to spout off your partisan vitriol?

  153. Jevia says:

    @peter_in_paris: Yeah, but in France no one has to pay for health care out of pocket, or retirement out of pocket, and everyone gets government mandated 5 weeks vacation (no worries about losing your job if you take your vacation either) and 35 hour work weeks and subsidized child care and paid maternity leave and paid sick leave.

    In the great US, we force employers to pay people at least a pittance, with no health care, very little retirement (and only because the government forces it on everyone), no vacation, no sick leave, no paid maternity leave, etc.

  154. dorkins says:

    Wow, everyone will be celebrating … the ones who don’t get laid off, that is, so that the survivors can be paid more.

    Good job, Congress!

  155. anyanka323 says:

    If anything, it won’t help most hourly employees making minimum wage. Employers won’t give current employees a raise. Instead, they’ll raise prices and blame it on the increase all the while pocketing the extra profits and giving themselves a big fat bonus.

    I have a college degree and am working a minimum wage job in SW Michigan. I can’t even get an office job because there are older people with more experience who have less education than me. It’s a bad job market for recent college graduates. I didn’t work hard for four years to end up in a minimum wage job and losing work to people twice my age with less education. It’s reverse agism being practiced.

    If the job market doesn’t improve, areas like Michigan are going to lose increasingly large numbers of young adults who can’t find jobs. That demographic shift will be disatrous in 10 or 20 years when the majority of the population is greying and will have an adverse effect on spending of social services. Something has to be done to prevent this including making it a priority to help younger college graduates find jobs.

  156. Jim Fletcher says:

    No college degree… was homeless 5 years ago… waited tables for $2.13 an hour plus enough tips to get by for 2 and a half years living in a run-down house with 3 other people so we could afford to make ends meet.

    Through working my tail off and (as corny as it sounds) a positive attitude, I just started a white collar job making $40k a year.

    I don’t have a lot of sympathy for people who complain about how hard it is to live on minimum wage.

  157. hoffmeister_hoff says:

    Damn! Everything on the dollar menu will be $1.04

  158. RabbitDinner says:

    @dangermike: Is your friend’s name Henry Chinaski, by any chance?

  159. Channing says:

    I don’t have the time nor the inclination to go through every comment posted here, but I’ll leave a first-hand experience/anecdote that people can tear apart while I’m not there.

    The place I used to work was alright. They started everyone off above minimum wage and had all kinds of benefits (heath/vision/dental insurance). However, when the minimum wage was raised, it sort of forced the company’s hand into raising everyone’s paycheck. Good, right? Not exactly.
    The cost of having to pay people more meant that they needed to reduce the hours they let people work. This dropped people below the threshold for benefits. So basically, just so everyone could earn a few cents more, employees (some, not all) had to lose benefits.

    Too many people overlook what a “raise” actually does. Of course, this was just a personal experience. Not everyplace will show the same effect.

  160. jasonkarns says:

    So $6.55 is better than $5.85. And $5.85 was better than the old $5.25. So reasoning would deduce that $10.00 is better than $6.55 which means $100.00 is better than $10.00. Why don’t we just mandate that all workers get paid $100.00 and hour? We could eliminate poverty!

  161. dragonfire1481 says:

    Companies DO NOT WANT wages to increase because it hurts their bottom line. It likely won’t put them out of business but it will shrink their profit margins so they work their tails off to keep wages as low as they can (hence why the wages are way off from inflation) for as long as they can.

  162. unpolloloco says:

    I had many friends in high school that got let go after Ohio raised their minimum wage from 5.15 to 6.85 (it’s even higher now). Companies cut back to their bare minimum because they couldn’t afford to have more than that working at one time, unlike before when they could pay people that they did not necessarily need.

  163. ChuckECheese says:

    @Alereon: Agreed. And I strongly recommend traveling to Russia to see what a contemporary, largely laissez-faire society and economy is like. Be sure to get your shots first.

    Here that, freepers? If you don’t like the minimum wage, you can go to Russia.

  164. Dabigkid says:

    @posaune: Slippery slope logic.

    One Chipotle burrito tastes good, and I need to eat it. WELL THEN WHY NOT 200?!?!


    People who support the minimum wage think of the minimum wage like a Laffer curve. Now whether the function for the net benefits of minimum wage is an upside down parabola is debatable, but you’re not making a stunning revelation here, champ.

  165. MuppetChrist says:

    Some of you people take being an asshole to a whole new level of artisanship. I am never surprised by the surplus of craven, callous apathy that humanity can so willingly afford its own.

    It is amazing how an entire community built on a foundation of entitlement and a “gimme gimme gimme” mindset can be so ready to decide how little entitlement anyone not themselves deserves.

  166. ShariC says:

    As people have pointed out, increases in minimum wage increase the cost of the services they provide. That being said, the consumer who buys those goods is generally more affluent than the worker providing the service and can afford to pay a bit more so that the minimum wage employee can improve his quality of life.

    This is a form of redistribution of wealth – pull more money from those who are better off in better jobs to improve the lot of those who are worse off. If you don’t like it, don’t use these services. It’s easy enough to solve any problem as a result of the increase.

    By the way, I hope every person who rags on those who support their family in minimum wage jobs loses their job and can’t find one in the same field and ends up having to flip burgers to survive. Not everyone has limitless options in life. They don’t have to screw up to find themselves in a bad situation.

  167. MuppetChrist says:

    P.S. I am not on minimum wage. But I have the decency to feel bad for some that are. Not everyone can take the same paths to success, and none of those paths are instantaneous. Everyone can fall hard, even if they have the means to get back up, and contrary to what some may say publicly, not all possess those means. There are those we exploit, because without them being anchored and chained to the bottom rung of the ladder, the ladder would never be stable enough for the rest of us to climb and stand atop.

    “Go to your church for charity.” Jesus fucking Christ.

  168. Trai_Dep says:

    @ChuckECheese: Hee hee. I laughed.
    Russia, or actually China are the ideal places for the Freepers to live now, at least as far as predatory capitalism goes.

  169. Anticitizen says:

    @blong81: True…

  170. frogman31680 says:

    you know, when I worked at McDonalds for over a year, they granted me with a kind raise of .05

    When the minimum wage hike came on, I asked my boss, do I get to keep my Nickel.

    Nope, your already making more and we couldn’t give you more than everyone else.

    Thanks McDonalds for being greedy corporate bastards!

  171. arielariel says:

    It blows my mind that in a blog that is so skeptical of large corporations, and in a blog that is so willing to call out the fact that large corporations don’t care about the customer, none of the commenters seem to have gotten to the point of extending that skepticism to the employment practices of these corporations.

    How is it that suddenly when we talk about employment law we assume that the business is doing nothing wrong, and when we talk about consumer protections we assume the business is doing nothing right?

    This blog proves time and time again that these big companies care about one thing: maximizing their profit at the expense of the little guy. Minimum wage laws are just as important a set of protections as consumer rights laws are — maybe more important.

    It’s easy to go on and on and on about how a rise in minimum wage laws will provoke inflation and cause business to raise their prices and fire workers. But you know, this implies a situation where business owners are free from greed and free from anything other than a beautiful faith in free economics.

    “If you are on minimum wage, don’t have a kid?” How about “if you own a business, don’t hire workers you can’t pay a living wage?”

  172. JoeTan says:

    to say upping the minimum wage isn’t causing inflation then you don’t know what inflation is.

    Minimum wage doesn’t help anyone but people that aren’t even worth paying minimum wage. These would be people that are complete failures at life and people who are just starting in the business world from the absolute bottom.

    Anyone with a high school degree shouldn’t be worried about the bare minimum. It’s not for people to live on. The problem is that businesses can’t afford to pay someone that doesn’t deserve that kind of money for the job at hand. If the work is only worth $4/hr and the business is forced to pay $8 then you don’t get the job OR prices increase.

    Minimum wage is inflation.

  173. veal says:

    You people saying you “don’t have much sympathy” for those of us making $6.55 an hour need a punch in the mouth. We don’t need your “sympathy”; we NEED you to go to Hell, and as quickly as possible.

    You’re utterly disgusting.

  174. JoeTan says:

    Why are you working for minimum wage? Why should you get a raise based on A LAW and not merit?

  175. orlo says:

    Why so much hostility to those making so little money? Could it be that you are ashamed of how much money you make? Or are you afraid that the poor might demand more?

    Or are you just selfish, since you don’t argue about laws regarding health insurance, workplace safety, maternity leave, length of the workweek, etc., which apply to you, but do have a problem with govt. interfering with the min. wage, which doesn’t apply to you? How about demanding that 6-year-old children be allowed to work so that prices stay low?

  176. MuppetChrist says:

    @orlo: Exactly. You have to appreciate the blind standards.

    They obviously aren’t ashamed of what they’re making. They’re cruel people that didn’t have the sort of positive leadership necessary to teach them things like humility, empathy, and compassion. They’re the sort of people that can make blanket statements like, “Minimum wage doesn’t help anyone but people that aren’t even worth paying minimum wage. These would be people that are complete failures at life and people who are just starting in the business world from the absolute bottom.”

    None of this should be surprising, though. Spend five minutes with this enclave of crybabies, whining about their Circuit City price matches. There are good people that post here, and then there are just the greedy, miserable wallet zombies that have a need to treat others as less than human to attempt to put some meaningful perspective on their shallow, mini-van suburban lives.

  177. ChuckECheese says:

    @Trai_Dep: Thank you. I enjoy your comments too. I’m surprised that it didn’t occur to me before, that the communist nations that the libtardarians and Reaganlicans used to tell progressives to go to, are now the very countries that champion their causes. U.S.-style armchair libertarianism is far less edgy than the real thing in Russia, where the HIV and TB rates are soaring and tens of thousands are staggering around drunk on aftershave and the male life expectancy has dropped to 60 years old.

  178. ChuckECheese says:

    @anyanka323: My condolences over your frustration. I would like you to understand that most of those older people get chosen over you, because, right or wrong, it is assumed that they have families and other obligations to support, more so than a young person. It is a type of discrimination, but one that society tacitly accepts.

    This is a trite story by now, but I haven’t really noticed it in this thread. The owner of the recently-largest car company in the world, Henry Ford, realized that he would greatly increase the market for his goods (cars) if his workers were able to afford them, and so he gave all his workers a 100% raise. His decision was a turning point in the American economy, pointing the way to the creation of a prosperous middle class. Many nations, with robber barons and oppressive or nonexistent wage laws, ended up with a few very rich people, and lots of very poor people. This is currently the case all through Mexico and Central and South America, and in many other parts of the world.

    Basic consumer spending drives a large portion of our economy, about 60%. This is for things like clothes, TVs, energy drinks, iPods and Spaghettios. This spending is possible only because people are able to earn enough wage income. If they don’t earn the money, the U.S. economy tumbles, because the wealthy, even though they have lots of money, will only buy so many iPods, pairs of socks, cars, and cans of Spaghettios, not enough to keep the economy humming along.

    In many contemporary societies, it is demonstrated that low wages lead to increases in disease, various social problems, and a weak national economy. Higher wages for working people improve social conditions.

    I suspect many of you minimum-wage haters are closet aristocrats that believe that hard work and talent solves all problems and guarantees your success, like the love-children of Horatio Algier and Ayn Rand. Or at least, it would guarantee your success if you weren’t forced to pay taxes to subsidize the unwashed masses. Russia is full of cold, hungry PhD nuclear scientists and physicians now. The current robber class has no need for their services and they are unemployable, despite clearly demonstrated abilities and a lifetime of dedicated hard work on behalf of their nation.

  179. ChuckECheese says:

    In rural America and in its South, there are many areas where nearly all available jobs are minimum wage. Also, in such places where the job market is really tight, people work in the underground economy, that is, working for cash, for less than minimum wage, or for barter (maybe even just room and board). This exacerbates economic problems, because it undermines the rule of law and reduces tax collections, creating a spiral to the bottom.

    Employers have shown their colors throughout history, and will pay workers as little as they can get away with unless they are held back by unions or regulations. Again, Henry Ford was very astute in that he recognized having well-paid workers meant stronger markets for goods and services that comprise the majority of economic activity in the U.S. America is not strengthened by having hordes of poor working people. This is one of the major criticisms of Wal-Mart: That it pays its workers so little that they must rely on welfare to make ends meet. This means that American taxpayers are subsidizing Wal-Mart’s operations.

    Somewhat tangentially, it occurred to me the other day that if profits were limited, that some of the current shenanigans in the banking and investment economies would be curtailed. For instance, if banks can make unlimited profits off fees, and bank presidents can make nearly unlimited (8-figures = unlimited to you and me) salaries doing so, then well, he’ll do it if he can.

    But say that the CEO’s salary was taxed at a certain high rate over $250,000, or the bank’s profits were taxed over a certain level, and now, the incentive for manipulation and cheating are gone. Not the incentive for working hard, because it would still be possible to make good money, but the manic exuberance of the mortgage/tech stock/commodities bubbles would be attenuated, since the reward for manipulation would be gone.

    So given current socioeconomic events (weak demand, decreasing purchasing power, speculation-bubble profits gained by gaming financial markets), it looks to me like the bottom should be raised and the top flattened.

  180. katylostherart says:

    @Dabigkid: you’re not the only one that said this but it said only about 20% of that 1.7mil people employed at this level were teenagers.

    “The real arguments against the minimum wage are 1) a lot of minimum wage workers are just kids from middle class suburbia. These kids don’t need their wages protected.”
    almost no one i went to hs with was employed while in school (unlike me). true middle class and up kids don’t need jobs unless their parents require it of them. if only 20% of them are teenagers that’s 19 and lower. so that’s 1-2 years of maybe being kicked out of the house or being out on your own and not having any marketable skills besides math that ends at asmd and a 3rd grade reading level which is currently the average reading level in the us.

    most college adults in the us don’t read any higher than that either. which means even with a college education, your skills probably aren’t as marketable as you think.

    to others: minimum wage WAS meant to be a wage you could live off. that’s why it’s the minimum, so that if you worked full time you could make a living. that really actually was the point of it.

    to the people who suggest moving – do you have any idea what the basic infrastructure of the us is? most of the us live in little local isolated economies with a few large regional employers (walmart), farming/agriculture and things like that. that’s not a marketable skill where jobs pay more.

    “hi i can plow fields, please give me a job as an investment banker. i also come from a place with no educational spending and have no knowledge of technology and can’t spell more than 10 words correctly. if you’re lucky, i know what algebra is, but probably don’t know anything about interest rates. PLEASE GIVE ME A 100K/YEAR JOB.”

  181. Jevia says:

    @ChuckECheese: Actually, its been my experience in lots of job hunting, that employers would prefer their employees not to have families. Then they don’t have to worry about the employee needing to leave work to take care of a sick child, or other family-type obligations (at least, I should say, for female employees, it usually doesn’t matter for male employees, because its generally expected that the wife will take care of such things, whether she’s also working or not). True, one’s family situation is not supposed to be discussed in a job interview, but inevitably, it comes out.

    I agree with the whole “top flattened” idea. It annoys me to hell that we’re paying record prices for food and gas, yet oil companies and grocery stores are reporting record profits. Again, taking from the masses, who must buy food and gas, and giving to the few stockholders/upper management.

  182. Raanne says:

    hmmm…. maybe it would help some of you in perspective if you didn’t think of this as a raise in minimum wage, and instead *less* of a decrease. Seeing as minimum wage hasn’t been adjusted for inflation at all, this only brings it partially up to what it should be if it were to “stay the same”… basically by not increasing it ever year to adjust with inflation, we are subsidizing all the companies that raise the cost on their products every year, but dont increase what they pay their workers.

  183. harvey_birdman_attorney_at_law says:

    Great, McDonald’s workers make more money, yet my industry continues to flounder and even though I have 7 years of higher education and 7 years experience my payroll goes down. Thanks!

  184. RandomHookup says:


    Anyone working one shouldn’t be trying to support themselves or much less a family. If you are, it’s time to find something new…if you can’t, chances are you f’d up somewhere along the way and there’s a reason for it. Sorry, no sympathy here.

    So if you just graduated high school and got kicked out of foster care, you shouldn’t try to support yourself on minimum wage? There are only so many good paying entry jobs out there and the majority pay well because of the harsh conditions — very physical labor, environmental hazard, etc. — and they pay well because not everyone can do them.

    Seems to be that, in an ideal situation, a new HS graduate with no support structure should be able to support him/herself on the entry level wage. Even if that means sharing with 4 other folks as they build their way up. The toughest part is getting started, and heaven forbid you get sick and you lose your job. That’s why people need to be able to make enough on minimum wage to support themselves.

  185. Brunette Bookworm says:

    @nikalseyn: I really don’t think that people working jobs like cleaning hotel rooms are deadbeats. We don’t know the reasons why they have to work that job but I think it’s probably a pretty hard job. Much harder physically than my job of sitting at a computer 8 hours a day. Not everyone is smart enough to do all jobs and, as some others pointed out, someone has to do these jobs. I think it’s sad when someone works hard, 40+ hours a week, and can’t earn a living wage. Maybe some people should try reading that book “Nickle and Dimed” before thinking all minimum wage, or just over minimum wage, workers are lazy.

  186. RandomHookup says:

    Of course, for those of you who believe in an absolutely free market, an increase in the minimum wage has no effect on prices. Prices are dictated by the market. Costs might drive ineffective participants out of the market, but prices are set to maximize profits, right?

  187. ram0029 says:

    The minimum wage is just another in a long line of government interventions into areas they have no business. The implication with a minimum wage is without government help, no one would ever get a raise. The facts long ago trashed this theory. The people making min wage are a transient group for the most part. You do not have a million workers making min wage for 10 or 20 years. They get raises all on their own without government help. As for the effects of artificial wage floors. Crappy customer service as companies eliminate positions to save costs and inflation!

  188. veal says:

    JoeTan et al: I am working for the minimum wage because I want to work for the County Library and serve the public. That means citizens like you, though you seem not to care a whit. I like to see them read, and care quite deeply about what I do. The $6.55 is what the job pays. It’s what they have to spend. I am grateful for the few cents more, honestly. I spent years in retail book trade and did the same job for three times more. The fact is – I’m not complaining about the pay, I’m complaining about the attitude of people like you. What is wrong with you that you would automatically assume that what YOU want out of YOUR life is what I’D want out of MINE? I am asking politely: If you have a life, live it, and don’t put me down for mine. I’ll ask less politely next time.

    FWIW, all this assumption of $13K for minimum wage work is rubbish; many of us make half that because positions like ours are (harmfully)classified as “temporary” although that means “20 hours a week”.

  189. veal says:

    Oh, in specific answer to you rude-ass question: there are NO MERIT RAISES OFFERED, that’s why. I’d be at the top of the list if there were.

  190. RoboNerdOK says:

    Oddly enough, those states with minimum wages higher than the Federal standard are the more prosperous ones. Every time the economy goes in the toilet, we see these “tax rebates” going straight to working families, like the one we just had this spring.

    Yet somehow we’re supposed to believe that the economy is *not* built from the ground up?

    Supply-side theory has been totally debunked. You have to sell something to meet a demand. If your demand isn’t there, neither is your raison d’etre. If people can’t afford to eat or even buy a tank of gas, they’re not going to buy luxuries. End of story. Therefore your economic policy has to be geared towards giving the working folks a fair shake, because they will ultimately spend the extra money they get, boosting the economy. Rich folks will simply stuff extra money away — and lately, that ‘stuffing’ has been overseas, further draining our domestic economy.

    The minimum wage hike is vital as a component to preventing another Great Depression, which came about by the same ridiculous laissez-faire, no-rules capitalists. Capitalism is like fire: very useful, very practical, and very dangerous if not kept in check.

  191. cordeliapotter says:

    I guess I just don’t understand why disadvantaged people have to work so much harder for their lives than the over-privileged.

  192. NeedaUsername says:

    To those who support the unregulated markets, I have two words: Robber Barons.

  193. Karl_Marxs_Nightmare says:


    perhaps you should read ‘Scratch Beginnings’ by Adam Shepard (as a foil to ‘Nickel & Dimed’)


    probably the result of *gasp* the laws of supply and demand. If more of ‘x’ worker-type (e.g. lawyers) are present at consistent/flat levels of demand, then wages for said industry will remain flat or even fall. The market corrects eventually in everything. When college students decide that “lawyering” doesn’t pay enough to satisfy their future whims, then they will choose another professional field, therefore lowering the number of lawyers entering the market and likely stabilizing wages, assuming consistent levels of demand from customers/clients. The market works both ways, people only seem to complain about it when it’s working not to their favor salary-wise.

    @all the commenters who’s argument basically boils down to one of the following:

    1) ‘why can’t people earn a living wage from minimum wage’

    2) ‘i can’t get any other job that doesn’t pay minimum wage because of where I live’

    3) ‘how is it that minimum wage earners work so much harder to barely scrape by than cushy white collar workers?’

    4) ‘flatten out the top end of the wage scale and raise the bottom! that’s the way to fix the income inequality!”

    @ #1: We all need to take a little bit of perspective on what terms like ‘living wage’ and ‘working poor’ really means. Here in the US, we are used to what is a relatively cushy, well-off existence as compared to what the vast majority of the planet trudges through on a day-to-day basis. The ‘working poor’ in the US (assuming scenarios of 20/30/40 hrs/week at federal minimum wage) approximately 6.1x/9.2x/12.3x the average household wage on a global basis. Using that standard, ‘living wage’ is a somewhat subjective term. People do not require between $6,150-$12,300 per year to live…others around the world with the same basic needs (food/water/shelter) do it for much less. We are simply used to the idea that ‘shelter’ is something like apartment with running water and electricity, and ‘food’ is getting to eat out at McDonald’s twice a week. (and this is not even going into ancillaries like healthcare, etc) Please get things in perspective. We (comparatively speaking) live like kings compared to the rest of the planet; pay a little gratitude to the (capitalist) system that makes it possible.

    If you want to make minimum wage the ‘living wage’, then we need to collectively sit down and decide what we want the ‘living annual income’ to be ($40,000? $400,000?, $4,000,000?). Once that happens, we will need to start printing money from the US Treasury to ensure that enough bills are in circulation so that people who were making $13,000 a year now are making $40,000. In turn, the increased circulation will drive inflation to the point at which $40,000 (the new minimum wage) will still have the purchasing power of $13,000 (the old minimum wage). The laws of the marketplace will ensure that this happens, no matter what the nominal “living wage” happens to be. Instead of Bill Gates being worth $40 billion, he’ll just be worth ~3x that much ($40,000/$13,000 = 3.07x) and keep the same purchasing power.

    @ #2:

    Incorrect. You are imposing an artificial limit on your access to the labor market. You do not get to dictate the terms and factors of the job market; the market does. The only thing that you can dictate is whether or not you want to earn some wage or no wage. If market forces determine that an employer is paying too low of a wage for a said job, then their supply of labor will shift to another employer because companies will ultimately pay whatever it takes to grow their business, so long as it is economically viable. Why are an increasing amount of US companies moving manufacturing and ‘desk jobs’ back to the US in the face of rapidly rising fuel costs and training expenses even as US workers need higher relative salaries (as compared to India, for example) to live and work in America? The cost-benefit of the outsourcing is more than offset by a myriad of expenses, not the least of which is fuel in many manufacturer’s cases. If companies were really all about paying people less no matter the cost, no industries at all (except non-outsourcables like healthcare, food service) would exist in America at all right now.

    Example: What did people do during the Gold Rush years of the mid-to-late 1800s? They moved where jobs and employment opportunities were! What about during the Dust Bowl years of the 1920s? They moved away from those affected areas and into other places/regions with more (relatively speaking) plentiful job opportunities. Why do illegal immigrants migrate to America? Bingo, you guessed it, more employment opportunities. Novel examples, i know.

    The bottom line is that if the market makes work (or whatever job/sort) available, then someone in the labor market will migrate to where it is.

    @ #3:

    this argument was decided a long time ago…using ones ‘back’ (to use a general term for physical labor) is worth only a certain amount of wage assuming equal risk to job ‘Y’.

    Now, using physical labor and combining that with riskier job environments and other extraneous factors necessitates higher pay (as evidenced by higher than average hourly wages in said ‘more dangerous’ professions).

    The further/higher you move into knowledge-based assets (technical designs, inventions, etc), the higher the pay scale because the economic value realized by said knowledge is much higher. The majority of people (barring a physical disability and/or health problems) can do basic physical labor. Therefore, the wide availability of potential labor supply keeps wages in that type of field low. When you restrict the amount of labor supply for whatever goal/job you are looking at, wages will rise. (e.g. there are 10 million people at any given time who can dig ditches, so full-time ditch diggers make $13,000/year; there’s only one Steve Jobs to invent the iPod [and subsequent products] from scratch, so he gets $20 million in stock and salary per year).

    I’m not getting into issues like education levels, ease of access to said education or other factors which create Steve Jobs or ditch diggers, I’m merely addressing why the differences occur. People on this thread seem to miss the underlying factors that drive wage differentials like the above example.

    @ #4:

    Eliminating the effectively infinite potential to create wealth that the capitalist system allows makes absolutely no sense, logically or even emotionally for that matter. I won’t debate the emotional part, but i will say that there is a reason people come to America (and have done so in droves for 200+ years) to ‘strike it rich’.

    Eliminating the profit motive (i.e. the ability to make ever increasing amounts of money given you have something that the market wants) fails in so many ways. Having the potential to realize something (profit, economic gain, whatever you want to name it) beyond the ‘norm/average’ by putting in more work/ideas/thought is the driver for basically all improvement over the complete history of man.

    Let’s put it in non-economic terms: a cave man figures out how to make a sturdier spear (relative to his cavemen contemporaries) that can penetrate the hide of a mammoth. He then gets more meat, as well as other items (ivory tusks, etc) through his innovation. While these incremental gains (more meat to eat so he doesnt starve, tusks for bartering for items he doesn’t have) aren’t dollars and sense, they are economic gains of a sort. The person who first invented soap so that he/she could get the grime off their skin (and also the potentially harmful bacteria that lived in said grime) also got an economic benefit of a longer and/or healthier life.

    Now, the world has seen a system in which the profit motive wasn’t present: Soviet-style communism (Chinese communism was the same until Deng’s reforms in the 1970s). What was the ultimate result of ‘equalizing’ everyone’s ability to produce? Mass failures and economic collapse. Without an economic incentive to produce something, people will oftentimes produce only the bare minimum (e.g. state 5-year plans for the making of shoes), whether it is in vital foodstuffs, leather shoes, or automobiles. This subsequent lack of motivation to produce lead in many many instances to shortages. It is in the history books, please look it up if you don’t believe me. Google ‘Russian’ (or Chinese) along with words like ‘shortages’ or ‘famine’ and i guarantee you’ll get lots of results.

    From the investment side, capital holders (of whatever size) will not invest money into ventures which promise no hope of higher than average returns and/or profits. If you can’t make more money on your money than by holding it or putting it in generic investment ‘x’ (e.g. treasury bonds), then why invest in anything different in the first place? The capital flows to risky ventures because of the potential for economic returns that are above and beyond the norm. For those who refute this, ask yourself a simple question: which would you rather put in $1 into: a) something that returns $1 + your initial investment or b) something that returns $2 + your initial investment?

    One final item: for those who think that minimum wages increases don’t really impact employment, you are correct, but only to a point. While the overall level of employment is relatively unaffected, the largest contraction occurs within small to medium sized businesses, which cannot completely with the economies of scale of someone like a Wal-mart/Target, etc. The majority of the job growth in the US (and within all non-state managed economies) comes from smaller business because their growth rates are generally speaking at a much higher rate than corporate conglomerates.

    A huge company can only growth faster than GDP growth for a limited amount of time before it encompasses the entire country’s economy. Small businesses, since they are starting from a much smaller base, can typically afford to grow at higher rates. When minimum wages come into play, the small business can only hire ‘x-1’ additional employees (vs hiring ‘x’ employees under the old wage levels) because of the added salary and/or benefits burden from minimum wage laws. While it might not seem like a large impact for a business that employs 12 instead of 13 people, you have to take that 1 less employee and multiply it across the tens/hundreds of thousands of small businesses across the country…this is when those incremental non-hires start to make a difference in employment numbers.

    Feel free to flame away.

  194. MuppetChrist says:

    @NeedaUsername: No, no, you simply don’t understand how free market economies work. If we eliminate the menace of government hand-outs that is the minimum wage, and we allow the consumer to punish companies that don’t pay their employees enough, those companies can in no way stay in business. They will close down. The American consumer would NEVER support a business that employed sweatshop labor. I can’t think of a SINGLE American corporation that has prospered on the back of slave labor. Not a single one.

    The free market is completely and totally self-regulating. It is the answer to all these problems and more. Without government regulation, the corporations would be more in check, not less. Wages would go way, way up. People at McDonald’s would probably make something like 50 bucks an hour.

    It is so not fair that people on minimum wage get a pay increase while I have a college education and make close to a six figure income and my pay actually went down a few hundred dollars annually last year. It doesn’t matter whatsoever than the minimum wage is substantially beneath the median cost of living in almost every area of the country, and that even with the increase it’s still beneath that threshold, THAT’S A RAISE. And if it’s not enough, they can get a second minimum wage job. And guess what, if they already have one, THAT’S A DOUBLE RAISE.

  195. veal says:

    I see where you’re going here but 1) American companies are unexamined. Your average consumer might CARE if a company was running sweatshops but they have no way to know – corporations run the news and the media 2) That $50 a McDonalds employee would be making would be worth much less.

    I think your six figures SHOULD go down if my pay can’t go up, fair or not. What use is “fair” in a society and economy that is so unbalanced? What do you do for a living, MuppetChrist? What kind of genuine labor registers six figures? And who are you helping besides yourself?

  196. MuppetChrist says:

    I was being sarcastic? :(

  197. UnaMacula says:

    I am appalled by the ignorance in this discussion. I have never been to the
    United States, but I do follow politics and economy in your country since
    the US is so important to the world economy and world politics.

    Some of those opposing the minimum wage claim that minimum wage shouldn’t be
    increased because it will create more inflation, you also claim that the
    value of the wages of those paid just above the minimum wage will be less,
    thus they are punished for having gotten better pay earlier.

    What you don’t seem to get is that in societies like Norway, where there is
    no minimum pay (yep, no minimum wage, but strong unions, and ‘pinko
    socialist parties, except one who might actually get to power in the next
    election, expect them to try out the American way…), but where even a maid
    in a hotel earns at least $17 (at the current exchange rates), and I know
    for a fact that people washing the floors of the malls earn more than that,
    people still do those jobs, people can still afford to stay at the hotels.

    Certainly, even 20 years ago when I was a kid, I never earned less than $20
    in any job. And in no job later, as a store clerk, as a factory worker, as a
    floor cleaner, as a janitor, as a farm hand, as an apprentice, as a computer
    programmer, as a graphics artist, regardless, it always paid more than $20.
    Heck, even my unemployment benefits when I once was without a job paid
    better; but those benefits are based on past performance.

    Those workers are within reach of their own home, their own car and they can
    certainly afford holidays.

    What actually happens when people are paid properly and work in controlled
    environments where they are not exposed to danger, the society prospers!

    Why? Because suddenly you have all those people working in burger bars (here
    in Norway mostly students/young people), in stores, as hotel maids (often
    the first job of a foreign girl), as floor moppers, all those people are
    able to participate in the normal life. They can afford a weekend at a
    hotel, or travel to visit family, or even an vacation in a foreign country.

    Of course there are jobs which disappear, the middle class can’t afford
    domestic help, gardeners, etc. There are much fewer people in a store in
    Oslo than in a store in Manila. There are no elevator key pusher in a mall
    in Norway, as it is in Manila. There are fewer managers. There is less red

    Another plus, there are fewer security guards (every store in Manila seems
    to have at least one, even if the mall is guarded), and a lot poorer service
    that what you would get even in Denmark and Sweden (and certainly on the
    shopping floor of any respectable business in the Philippines), the former
    is on par with Norway in pay, the latter about 10-20% less, but both are
    comparable economies with much the same dynamics.

    The unemployment is pretty low, at least comparable to the US, in stark
    contrast to what for example chuckv expouses in
    too-impoverished-to-celebrate#c6899712. Long term unemployment is much

    too-impoverished-to-celebrate#c6899984 has got it right; if you are
    constantly fearing that someone else will take your job if you complain, you
    don’t complain. The Philippines, a country with at least 80 million people,
    many of them well educated, exports nurses and doctors moonlighting as
    nurses (doctors can’t get a job in the US (ask AMA, why), while nurses are
    allowed with no questions asked if they have the right exam). Why? Because
    even well educated people with degrees doesn’t get paid a livable wage!
    There are more nurses than there are jobs for them, so they get paid around
    15-20000 peso a month. A poor apartment would cost at least PHP 5000, it
    would use around PHP 1000 of water every month, the electricity around the
    same. And this is a poor apartment. A nice apartment, not a very high
    standard one by any measure, would cost around 15000 peso a month.

    In the Philippines you have a “free market”. There are rules, nobody follows
    them, thus the market is for all intents and purposes a free one. They have
    minimum wage, even the government doesn’t pay the minimum wage, certainly
    not the municipalities… Everyone is disposable. People are afraid of their
    “betters” and of loosing their jobs. Let Ayn Rand or any other free market
    economist or philosopher start out in a poor family in a country like that.

    BTW, notice how those who love the free market the most are those with a
    pretty good starting platform in life from the beginning.

    That is what you all are asking for when you cry for a free market, a market
    where the strongest are the ones who will dictate the rules and who only
    care about their own bottom line and welfare. Charities are not a magic
    bullet as blong81 claims in

    It also seems that some of you think that socialism equals poverty,
    especially inspiron in
    too-impoverished-to-celebrate#c6898005. Well, socialist countries like
    Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, New Zealand (at least until the end of the
    nineties) are doing well, and has the smallest income gaps in the
    industrialized countries. In other words there is greater equality, anyone
    can afford an education (since it is free, except study materials from high
    school on wards) and people have houses, cars, ipods, vacations and

    Compare that to non-socialist states like the US and Great Britain. Both
    countries where people work longer hours than in the aforementioned
    socialist countries, have less vacation, earn less in low paying jobs, can’t
    afford education, has higher infant mortality rates, has more poverty, has
    higher unemployment rates.

    OK, I’ll admit it, I’m not an economist, nor do I have any formal knowledge
    about the things I wrote above, but I have been to many European countries,
    to some Asian ones, I have conversed with people visiting Norway from
    countries in the EU, the US, South-America, Africa and many others.

    Yes, we have more racism here, people who doesn’t look “Norwegian” have a
    much harder time establishing themselves here than in GB, France, Sweden or
    even Denmark (renowned for it’s recent turn towards more fear of
    immigrants), there are things that aren’t good.

    Of course it is strange that Norway has a much higher spending on health
    care than Sweden and Denmark, yet much lower than the US. There is waste in
    the government run system of Norway, but truly, not as much as in the US,
    and Denmark and Sweden have almost the same systems as in Norway, and yet
    they have much lower costs than Norway, US and GB.

    My wife says that Norway is the best country in the world, the most
    beautiful and the one she will become a citizen of when the rules allow. She
    is from the Philippines, that’s why I know the problems of that country so
    well. Of course, as a Norwegian I also think the same as her, but Norwegians
    are very proud and hardheaded and take it as a given and think that it is
    natural that we are the best, so don’t take my word for it.

    Norway is not naturally the best, I try to tell to my peers here. With the
    wrong kind of politicians we could end up as the US, or even worse, like the
    Philippines. And since we take it for granted, and are proud and indifferent
    to our own system, we might very well loose it.

    From my point of view the US is far from a great place to live. It has great
    people, wonderful nature, ideas, less racism (though more homophobia), in
    short it could be a great place to live if it only had a system more humane.

    The rest of the comments in this thread touch on militarism, government
    spending, on socialism, on government spending, on welfare programs, on
    different political directions, all very interesting and comment worthy
    subjects. Alas, I think the reader is already tired of my monologue.

    Best regards,
    Paul K Egell-Johnsen

    PS: Unfortunately I have no proper research to back up my claims. This
    comment has the germs for many good articles if I do the research.

  198. Voodoopunk says:

    The company I work for is already scheduling the price increase for our product as a result of the increased minimum wage mandate. Essentially, everybody making more than minimum wage just got a pay cut. And those getting the extra .50 cents an hour are going to find themselves paying more for goods as a result just like everybody else.

  199. spdyvkng says:

    @Voodoopunk: I think some companies are using this as an opportunity to increase prises. But ask yourself, has your company never increased the prices since 1992? In 16 years it only now increases the prices?

    A lot of stuff has changed since 1992, price of food has risen, just the last year some staple foods have risen more than 50%, price of gas, housing.

    Do you really think that those working on minimum wage should get less and less for their money? Everything gets more expensive over time, yet those having the lowest pay should not have an icrease, in effect making them cheaper and cheaper every year!

    The income difference is increasing in the US, see the third paragraph of this []

  200. spdyvkng says:

    @Karl_Marxs_Nightmare: What you are saying in the last part of your post is basically that regardless of how little a company can create of new value in their chosen field of business, they should be allowed to continue. On the face of it it seems good, it seems worthwhile, it seems fair.

    It produces a society where you allow loosing propositions to continue for too long, a society where you don’t maximise the use of resources and the return of investment.

    In Norway we have laws that regulate most employer-employee relationships. We have taxes, we have benefits, we have insurances, everything has to be paid by the employer.

    It was decided by the economists here that those companies who can not bear a minimum burden of taxation and cost are not worthwhile. The resources they use don’t yield enough to let them live in our society. It is better that they go under and new worthwhile enterprises which have a higher degree of earning will be started.

    Thus all those small companies that fail to expand or fail to find an equilibrium in the current system are meant to fail, they do not create enough income to have the right to continue.

    It might not seem fair to those that could have continued if they didn’t have to pay a living salary to their employees, or pay insurance for them, or pay social security or pay all the taxes. But for the society as a whole it is much fairer, and it is a much better use of resources.

  201. @Hongfiately: Plus, if the fruit-picker is here illegally they can get in-state tuition rates that citizens cannot.”

    Yeah, because someone here illegally meets residency requirements. Or to be kind, you are spouting off a myth that certain groups have gone on and on about over the years without one shred of it being based on truth.

  202. veal says:

    That’s unfortunate, Voodoopunk. Please tell us the name of the product so we can avoid purchasing it. What did your pay go down to? Can you handle it?

    MuppetChrist: so were you being sarcastic or not? If you were (and your question mark puzzles me), that was a mighty sustained blast of sarcasm so subtle as to be indistinguishable from snark!

  203. @MuppetChrist: “I can’t think of a SINGLE American corporation that has prospered on the back of slave labor.”

    Besides Nike, Wal-Mart, and Disney?

  204. spdyvkng says:

    @spdyvkng: The argument in Norway is the same as the arguments in this thread, except that we also apply the argument to the corporations. In other words, a right winger will say:

    “That looser in a minimum wage job should study and get a better job and earn more, or let him starve.”

    We say:

    “That looser company doesn’t earn enough to contribute to society, it better sharpen up or should be disbanded.”

    Strangely enough that sentiment is not shared by right wingers. They seem to think that a company paying minimum wage is okay, and that it is good use of resources, but someone working for minimum wage is not using his own resources well enough.

    Talk about reality dysfunction.

  205. spdyvkng says:

    @Glamourdammerung: I almost rose to the bait as well. Note how MuppetChrist first talked about sweatshops then when he wants examples he is talking about slave labor. There is a difference between sweatshop conditions and slavery, and it is disingenuous of him to pretend it isn’t.

    I also were going to suggest those you mentioned (plus not least Dole and Chiquita), but I couldn’t find actual slave labor.

  206. Karl_Marxs_Nightmare says:


    Actually, I think you may have misread my last point. I don’t take any stance on the market being “fair” for small businesses to grow/expand, etc. As a matter of fact, I want the market to be as “unfair” as possible so that only the economically viable businesses thrive while those that can’t generate enough profit to survive don’t.

    The point i was trying to make is that people talk in general terms about the lack of job destruction from things like minimum wage hikes. While the overall numbers may not change substantially, the impact to smaller businesses (which create the majority of new jobs [at least in America] b/c of higher intrinsic growth rates vs large corporations) is substantial. I don’t want a handout to small businesses who just muddle along, i just don’t see a need to impose artificial constrains on businesses which could have potentially limitless potential. I mean, not to use an blatant example, but Wal-Mart started out as only a one location ‘five-and-dime’ store compared to where it is today.

    I only want businesses who can successfully compete and generate economics returns to thrive and expand, but there are things like minimum wage laws which are simply unnatural restrictions and/or limits to the marketplace.

    I want businesses to compete equally against each other, without the gov’t injecting artifically created definitions of wages and benefits. The invisible hand of market forces will do that quite nicely without any outside institutional interference.

  207. spdyvkng says:

    @Karl_Marxs_Nightmare: You fail to grasp my main point: with a higher baseline the total value of society is higher than with a low baseline.

    You say that “The invisible hand of market forces will do that quite nicely without any outside institutional interference.” Yet you fail to show anywhere were that statement holds true.

    In those places where capitalism has been unbounded, for example Russia, it led to disasters as those who grabbed the resources were even worse than the communists in making that country livable for the majority of people.

    In markets without regulation those with the power will make sure they get as big a piece of the pie as possible, even when that is against their long term interests.

    That is why your government created anti-monopoly laws, oversight of stock markets and other not so invisible bounds and definitions of wages and benefits.

    Did you read the comment about the Philippines? I wrote that before I registered.

    No outside hand is as close to the truth in the Philippines as anywhere; at least from the viewpoint of the wage earner.

    In one hours work a store clerk can’t earn enough for a burger and coke, in one day she usually can’t afford a garment off the rack in her workplace. In one month she can’t make enough to live on her own.

    Compare that to how a full time store clerk in Norway can do more than that on her salary, without any sales bonuses.

    In the US a waitress gets a very low hourly wage and is supposed to make up the rest in tip. In Norway the waitress is supposed to earn a union wage which allows her to live on her own, have her own household.

    In the US, who will look after the worker when unions are busted and not tolerated in many low income positions? Those with the best benefits etc are those with traditionally strong unions, airlines, auto workers and truckers.

    Of course those are failing industries today, but other, emerging industries doesn’t see that much unionization.

    That is why you need government inteference. There are no-one making sure those earning wages are treated well. Frankly, the US government is a poor substitute for strong unions; at least under Bush.

    Anyway, calling definitions of wages and benefits “artificial” is wilfully ignoring the fact that apart from Objectivist and Neo-Cons, the US (and the world) is full of people happy to accept these definitions. If there was no need for them, they would be “artificial”, but as I’ve tried to argue, there is a screaming need for this.

    Don’t even get me started on benefits. I take that to mean pensions, health care, insurance, vacations, sick leave, things most of the western world, with the exception of the US, seem to think is what people is entitled to have.

    Heck, EU even transferred billions to Greece, Spain and Portugal to help them create those security nets for the impoverished people of those former military dictatures. Now they are more stable and prosperous than one could dream of just 30 years ago.

    Your “invisble hand” has never worked in the history of man. Objectivists will say it has never been tested (they are basically talking about an utopia), Neo-Cons will change the parameters of the discussion each time we point to somewhere were the “invisible hand” has had a free reign.

    If I seem to put words in your mouth, I might be, I get very enthusiastic about this, and the keyboard is such a good place to hide.

  208. Karl_Marxs_Nightmare says:

    Haha, indeed. The relative anonymity of the internet is useful for putting out strong and/or inflammatory opinions :)

    First off, using Russia post-perestroika as an example of the “invisible hand” working is pretty laughable. The “market” did not have a hand in that transition; Communist insiders (who were decidedly not market driven) simply sold effective control to close non-party business associates and their friends. The net change was negligible; the “oligarchs” just replaced the Communist Party as the “owner” of effective monopolies.

    As far as the Philippines comment, i had a hard time reading it b/c of no spacing, but i will circle back and re-read it before i post again.

    With respect to unions, i believe that you and I simply have differing views on them. You view them as a positive b/c of various reasons (giving “living wages” [a debatable term, see my very first post in this article], protecting against corporate abuse) while I view them in a negative light (overcompensation for equivalent work vs a competitive labor market, unsustainable pension promises, restrictions on how an individual can work if he/she is not part of a unionized industry). I personally do not like institutionalized labor because in many cases, it disrupts the normal functioning of the marketplace (e.g. work stoppages/strikes, distorted compensation levels, limiting an individual’s right to pursue work, clinging to antiquated reward/compensation systems that fail to take note of changing states of the economy, etc).

    I think a lot of where our opinions/views diverge boils down to a more fundamental difference b/w who is more important in an economic system: the worker or the owner. I would wager that you think the worker is, while I would argue that the owner is the more important piece of the puzzle. Marx/Engels/Lenin/Mao [the worker/gov’t] have faced off against Adam Smith/Milton Friedman/Warren Buffett [the owner/free market] time and time again through various proxies over the past 200 years, and the ultimate winner has always been the free(r) market which emphasizes the individual/owner versus the worker/collective. While collectivist policies can work over short periods, the only sustainable system to survive economic shocks, depressions, plain vanilla human mismanagement and other extrinsic impacts has been the capitalist system as seen in the Western world. When socialist elements (state pensions, guaranteed wages, etc) are thrown into the mix, the typical results over the intermediate to long term are an erosion in economic growth b/c these socially just guarantees have to be paid by someone/something.

    You won’t find me advocating for a dog-eat-dog world of zero social net at all; there is always some portion of the population that will slip through the proverbial cracks of whatever economic/social system you have in place. My arguments are solely against minimum wage and gov’t intervention into labor market and economic dynamics (but also against gov’t welfare systems, but that is another can of worms all together).

    Should governments regulate some portions of the labor market? Of course; health and safety regulations, enforcement of legal work status, oversight on illegal behavior in the financial markets…these are just some o the many things that I think governments should do in terms of interacting with the “market.” However, (generally speaking; catastrophic occurrences are considered exceptions to the rules I’m laying out) I’m against the gov’t setting wage floors, instituting price controls, controlling amounts of production, bailing out industries/companies and other general market interference.[caveat: i am against bailouts; the american taxpayer is obviously not as evidenced by the housing bailout just signed by congress] In my view, gov’t interference into the private marketplace (beyond certain regulatory bounds as mentioned above) is a bad thing, and most certainly will lead to more bad things (e.g. the moral hazard). I have many historical examples to back my opinion up, as i’m sure you can cite many examples to show how gov’t needs to step in more.

    My overall view boils down to the fact that I do not believe that anything (subjective “living wage”, housing, etc) is implicitly guaranteed by the United States or its constitutional/founding documents. The only things (at least here in the States) that are true guarantees are life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and along with equal protection under the law. I also believe that the fundamental basis of competition is what drives human social, cultural, intellectual and economic development; without it, i believe we would still be chucking rocks at each other grunting about how many mammoths we were going to hunt today.

    If i missed your point again, i apologize; i will re-read your Philippines post and try again later.

  209. Karl_Marxs_Nightmare says:

    Also, just as a small corollary about your comment regarding that the rest of the world views minimum wage (and associated gov’t interventions) as ‘correct’:

    Simply because the majority believes something is the correct thing to do is not a logical or true validation of said idea/doctrine. I do not believe that the majority of the planet’s population is well-versed enough in even basic economics to understand the real impact of things like wage floors, price controls, and other economic policies which are thrown about within the modern political scene.

    That same lack of economic background is why you see people in countries around the world denouncing free trade principles (the US included), when free trade has been the primary driver for the relative economic strides worldwide over the past quarter century.

  210. spdyvkng says:

    @Karl_Marxs_Nightmare: I will get back to your longer comment above, but this one can have a quick response.

    It doesn’t matter what people understand of economics or not. If enough people can’t have their daily bread, housing and security, they will end up voting for change, or if the pressure is extreme, revolt.

    I agree that majority opinion isn’t neccessary supporting the best, but if you look at how people struggle in the US, even the middle class, versus how the middle class in countries using the Nordic model. The Nordic countries have had to do some changes, but we are still enjoying the same benefits as we have the last 30-40 years.

    Some of that is because we have put a higher baseline for costs in the society. You say “the real impact”, as if it will be negative, but from where I stand, it seems the real impact is positive. Getting rid of low paying and high labor work is beneficial. Look to farming, until mechanisation it was a high labor work with low pay. Granted, it is low pay still, but there is much less labor, we have freed all that labor for more productive use.

    Having someone wash your car by hand is low pay high labor, and using a machine frees that labor for better use. Having someone cut your grass with a manual cutteris low pay high labor, yet it can be done much faster with one guy owning a machine doing more fields.

    Of course some would say that he then deserves less pay per field, but I’m sure he will get better pay total.

    Free trade, btw, has rarely been free. Look at the Doha round of WTO. The industralized countries want the developing countries to remove import duties on industrialized goods.

    Never mind that our industries prospered and grew because of the same kind of import duties in the industrializations infancy, and that local industries can’t compete with international companies.

    The problem is that this makes those nations dependant on high value imported goods, while they themselves only export low value materials and foods. And many types of food which are easy to produce in say Africa, are unfairly subsidized in Europe and the US, thus, even with zero import duty in those terretories the more effective food can not compete with the subsidized local/international food.

    Free trade is an utopic idea built on non-real world premises. Real free trade would have to remove subsidies and tariffs, and that would depopulate wast areas in many countries, leading to security conserns.

    For example, without subsidies Norwegian farming would be completly uneconomic, especially in the north near Russia. It is already sparsely populated, but taking away even more of the livelyhood would drain the area even faster. That could be a security problem for Norway and Nato.

    That’s an example which I know, b/c I’m Norwegian. For many other countries it would leave them depending on food from foreign sources. Now, such dependency is good in the long run, it will hopefully make us trust others more, but it leaves the country vulnerable to market forces and manipulations.

    Just like the US is vulnerable to market forces and manipulations in the oil sector.

    These are just a couple of the hurdles which makes free trade unrealistic.

    As for the utopian part, free trade suposes that those with access to the resources and the markets will behave responsibly, honestly and to maximize the overall value. I’m going to point at super-fund sites in the US, those are areas where tax payers are cleaning up after companies. In India they still remember Bhopal.

    Now tell me, how do you suppose that owners, who will not even take responsibility in any meaningful manner for these gross negligent acts will allow others their “pursuit of happiness”?

    In fact they are even a threat to the “life and happiness” of the workers, because they don’t provide safe working coniditions, nor safe living environments near their “investments”.

    I don’t think the very simple (in the meaning just a few pages long) constitution of the US ever meant that the ills of the colonial government in England should be freely left to corporations to pursue in the future?

    As for maximizing value, the only thing free trade will lead to is maximizing profit for those owning for example the railroads, oil production or phone lines. Just to point to three examples in US history which shows what an unregulated market leads to.