As the years go by and humanity continues to grow, we are seeing great debates and arguments about many different issues and problems we are facing as a nation. One of those arguments is currently about the minimum wage, and to what level it should be hiked up, if at all.The biggest problem we actually face is this “one size fits all” solution we try to apply to everything. Americans, and the law makers who represent them, want these big sweeping laws that encompass all parts of any given situation under one broad measure to fix everything.This is why our nation’s policies continue to fail. You can’t make sweeping mandates and expect things to work out well. Situations are just too different form one state to another, county to another and town or city to another. The only effective way to manage situations like this is to have a third party intervene and judge the situation independently, like a watchdog group.What does that mean? Consider the following. We have two companies. Company A is a mega corporation with stores/offices/factories (or whatever you want to use as an example) all over the world. Company B is a mom and pop business in some random small town in any random state with just that single location.Should they really be held to the same standard? Absolutely not, that’s absurd. You can’t expect Company B to match the resources of Company A (unless you scale it down and use a ratio system to show that they can indeed pay the same along a ratio scale with profit/number of employees as the ratio).Let’s get a little deeper into it. Let’s say Company A has 20,000 employees and makes billions annually in profit. Company B has 5 employees and makes 70,000 annually in profit. That’s profit, so after costs and such, just the profit after everything is said and done, including current employee wages.Using the current method of law making, we just say Company A and B, on this date of this year, you will start paying your employees X amount. This holds Company A and B to the same standard even though they have vastly different resources at their disposal.It would make a lot more sense to take Company A and B and separately evaluate their cost/profit ratio, number of employees, resources at their disposal and other pertinent information, then make a determination. Then say Company A, you have X employees, make Y annually, so you can afford to pay your workers a wage of Z. Company B, you have X employees, make Y annually, so you can afford to pay your workers Z.
Now, I can already hear people throwing up one of the greatest buzz words ever. Communism. I disagree with this. On many levels we have already determined that we have to intervene in businesses and the free market to make sure people do what is right. That is why we have laws like minimum wage, child labor, etc.. We have things like Social Security and Medicare. I don’t see it as any different to make sure the companies that have the most resources, and therefore the most effect on the world, should be held to a higher standard, while mom and pop shops that make much less should be evaluated with that thought in mind.People may argue, particularly business owners, who feel no one has any right to tell them what they should have to pay anyone. To that I say human workers are no different than materials. If you can’t afford the materials for a business, then it’s not realistic to keep it in business. Human workers are just another form of resource. If you can’t afford to pay them properly, your business isn’t any more feasible than not being able to afford the materials. It only works now because we allow it under the guise of a “free market” and such that businesses can exist this way.The second problem is when we do make adjustments, nothing really changes. By this I mean, if Company A from the previous example is made to raise their wages, they just raise prices too. This accomplishes nothing. The only way for these situations to have any impact on people’s lives to avoid the price increase that follows.If I make a dollar extra per hour, but prices are raised at the same time, that’s just one step forward then one step back, sometimes even two back. Once again, this is something that requires an independent evaluation to balance rising costs vs. rising wages. As long as we continue to function in a way where we just close our eyes to the market and let businesses do whatever, we will continue to stagnate.To answer some other arguments, there’s the idea that “people aren’t supposed to work minimum wage jobs as they get older. Those are for teenagers.”That is one of the biggest fallacies I’ve ever heard. Do you have any idea how many minimum wage jobs there are out there? So many that adults and teens work them at the same time currently and we still have unemployment. So if you removed all those who ‘shouldn’t be working minimum wage jobs’ you would just create a vacuum in the labor force where those jobs aren’t being done.If you like going to restaurants, the grocery store or other such places, you have to accept that in society there are jobs that need to be done. If the jobs need to be done, then we shouldn’t penalize those who choose to do them.What if tomorrow everyone adopted a CEO viewpoint? ‘I’m not going to work for anyone anymore, I’m going to open up my own shop.’ It’s crystal clear how well that would work out. There would be too much competition, the vast majority would fail and have to go right back to working for someone else. So let’s go down a step. What if tomorrow everyone decided ‘I won’t work a minimum wage job. I’ll go to school and get a degree so I can get a high paying job.’What would happen is first there would be a vacuum in jobs from them all leaving. Then you would have a bunch of people with specialized degrees going back to work where they were before because education is not a guarantee of job placement or growth. There are only so many specialized positions available in any given sector, which is vastly outnumbered by the number of people working in any given sector. People hold this belief that if they get a college degree everything will be all right. Search the internet or magazines and you can find all kinds of stories about people who have extremely specialized degrees, or even more general ones, but can’t find any work because there’s not enough of those jobs to go around. The down side of specialization is it requires less manpower after all.Others argue that they should become a manager or rise through the ranks of their jobs. Once again this isn’t possible because as you climb the ladder there are less jobs. If you have 2 people qualified for a management position, but only one available, only one gets it. If person A and B are the same age, and person A gets the promotion, then person’s B’s chances for promotion go down even further because the chances of a person above them leaving their position become less. What happens when there are 10 qualified people? 9 are left in the same minimum wage position still, even if their skills are worth more. Sure some can go to another business and get that promotion they missed, but the heart of the issue is still the same. For every 1 that gets promoted, there are many others with the necessary skills left in the same position.
The fact is, if you start a business and you are the only employee, then yeah, you completely own it and don’t owe anything to anyone. The moment you hire other people though, it’s no longer just yours, and the business would not be what it is without the help of those other people. Would any of the big corporations we all know have reached where they are, or be able to function without the people who work on the front lines, without all the ground level work and aid they have received? Of course not. Through that logic, ANY position of employment should need to meet certain standards for those who are expected to work them. Those standards should just be raised or lowered by evaluating the company in question.I’m not saying ideas, innovation, companies and the like shouldn’t exist. I love that we live in a nation where a person can take their idea, bring it to market and make their dreams come true. Along the way though, I think we have just lost sight of the bigger picture. Why did we make those products? Wasn’t it so that we could improve the world? So people could enjoy life more? What enjoyment is there really when we cause needless suffering just to allow a small percentage to take so much even when they are dependent on the work and aid of others to get that far? Shouldn’t we care about workers as a whole, rather than just the rights of decision making by those at the top of the pyramid?Until we hold individuals, companies, corporations and the like to the standards they should be, nothing will ever really be solved no matter how many sweeping laws we make. We will continue to damage one business trying to control another with the same set of rules. The world is just not so convenient a place that one size fits all solutions work out.