What Is the Minimum Wage Really About?
Rep. Donald Norcross (“Biden’s Good Case for a $15 Minimum Wage,” Letters, Oct. 12) bases his argument for an increase in the minimum wage, in part, on the cost of apartment rent in New Jersey. He has no one to blame but himself. Rents are driven by high taxes (sales, income, real estate, energy, employment, etc.) and restrictions on building new housing imposed by politicians like himself. Cut the taxes and red tape and rents will follow.
The cost of living varies enormously across the country—ask anyone living in New York or San Francisco. These people likely need far more than $15 an hour to survive with one job. However, people living in many other places can do well enough on a lower minimum wage. The basic economic laws of supply and demand will determine what wages actually are, as evidenced in the three years before the Covid-19 virus decimated the economy. We had full employment, wages were rising rapidly across all levels, especially at the bottom, and the “employees wanted” sections of newspapers across the nation were larger than ever.
Some states recently raised their minimum wage which, not surprisingly, resulted in employees laying off workers, the net result being that those most in need suffer the most. So what we have again are politicians, most of whom have never actually run a business, trying to manipulate something to gain votes in an election. Kindly let us run our businesses as we know how to do it far better than you.
Fountain Hills, Ariz.
Rep. Norcross, says that “the federal minimum wage . . . isn’t livable no matter where you reside.” That statement doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Most of those earning the minimum wage aren’t heads of households, as Mr. Norcross implies. They are unskilled workers who are starting out, typically teenagers. More than doubling the minimum wage would effectively price them out of the workforce, snatching away from them the first rung of the ladder of economic advancement, denying those laborers the opportunity to learn skills that would enable them to move up to higher levels of income.
To paraphrase Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman: “Would you rather have no job at $15 an hour than a job at $7.25 an hour?”
Kansas City, Kan.