Our legislators are trapped. They know that increasing the minimum wage always throws some people out of work, that it hurts minorities and teenagers the most, and will increase illegal alien employment. They know that only about 7 percent of non-tipped employees nationwide actually earn the minimum wage, so it won’t have a great impact. They know that if the minimum wage is increased, the wages of all those currently at or around the new minimum wage will also want businesses to pay them more, too, further increasing labor and benefit costs. In a recession, they know this action cannot help grow the economy, as the laid-off people end up on unemployment.
They also know that most minimum-wage earners who are heads-of-households qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which puts money in their pocket to help them buy more goods and services to support the economy. Raising the minimum wage would cut the EITC for these families. Obviously, a better solution to deal with the increasing wage gap issue would be to increase the EITC.
But Democrat leadership – at both national and state levels – offers no such alternative. President [Barack] Obama and Gov. [Deval] Patrick both seem to feel that voters would rather see them do something that makes everybody feel noble than something that actually works. So your legislators are going to pass the minimum wage increase in both Washington and in Massachusetts. No one will notice the newly unemployed minorities and increased illegal house-cleaners. It’s simply another bad idea whose time has come.
R. Patrick Henry Jr.
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