Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Lower the Minimum Wage

Republican Senators have so far successfully stopped Democrat efforts to raise the minimum wage by offering so many amendments and parliamentary delays that Sen. Ted Kennedy was beside himself with anger. "Do you have such disdain for hard-working Americans that you want to pile all your amendments on this?" he shouted at Republicans on the Senate floor. "What is it about working men and women that you find so offensive?" This week there is going to be another vote on the minimum wage and Republicans will try once again to stop it from increasing. But while I'm sure it brings joy to the hearts of many conservatives to see Kennedy so furious, it's not enough to simply keep the minimum wage from going up. I think we need to lower the minimum wage.

Keeping the minimum wage at the inflated rate of $5.15 an hour for a decade has been a terrible drag on our economy. The number of millionaires in the United States, for example, grew only 11% from 2004 to 2005, to 8.9 million. It now takes an entire day for a CEO to earn what the average worker earns in a year. Many small businesses cannot afford to pay any wages at all let alone the artificially high minimum wage and America's bottom-heavy wages are making it increasingly difficult for us to compete in the global economy.

Compared with most countries in the world the U.S. minimum wage is extremely high. Of course, there are some worker-coddling welfare states that have higher minimum wages. In France, Great Britain and Australia, the minimum wage is more than $10 an hour. But when compared with countries like Botswana, Latvia and Papua New Guinea, we are significantly overpaying our workers.

Because American workers get paid so much, many businesses are outsourcing labor or moving overseas. If we want to compete, we are going to have to lower the minimum wage below the levels in countries such as China and India, whose economies are booming. In parts of China, for example, the minimum wage is about 20 cents an hour. In some states in India, the minimum wage is about 10 cents an hour. If we want to stop hemorrhaging jobs to these countries, we are going to have to undercut those rates.

Lowering the minimum wage would also solve our immigration problem. The minimum wage in Mexico is about 50 pesos a day, or $4.53. In an 8-hour workday, that's about 57 cents an hour, a little more than one-tenth of the U.S. minimum wage. If we just set the minimum wage below 50 cents an hour, how many Mexican immigrants do you think will risk their lives sneaking over the border for that? By significantly lowering the minimum wage below Mexico's, we could end the immigration problem very quickly.

Some Republican Senators have an even better idea: Abolish the Federal minimum wage altogether. They sponsored a bill that would let states set their own minimum wages below the already inflated Federal minimum wage. This measure would have given states the ability to compete to see who could pay workers less, helping small businesses and attracting new businesses. Some of the poorer states in the South, for example, could set their minimum wages at zero, which would allow family farmers to pay their workers by giving them room and board or scrip instead of cash. They could import workers from places like Africa, where just earning a little food and a roof over their heads would represent a significant improvement in their living standards. The South would finally rise again with this kind of economic stimulus.

Unfortunately, this measure didn't pass, but 28 Republican Senators voted for it, including potential Presidential candidates John McCain, Sam Brownback and Chuck Hagel, both of the Senators from Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina, and the bill's sponsor Wayne Allard. These Senators know that if we are going to compete with Third World economies we need to start paying Third World wages.

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gimblet said...

How about if you 59 cents an hour to employ people to shoot Mexicans desperate enough to come over for the extra 2 cents/hr. Then you kill 2 birds with one stone, no pun intended.

eBrickbats said...

Ideally, we would resurrect vagrancy laws, which would make these competitive jobs even more desirable as a way to stay out of jail. In some cases employers would even be able to charge people for the right to toil for eight to ten hours on their property, thus making American business even more competitive.

LonewackoDotCom said...

Another cute post!

Maybe someone could help me answer a couple questions though:

1. How many union jobs are there that have wages that are contractually set at some multiple of the min wage, and what role does that play in Kennedy's concern vs. his supposed concern for those earning min wage?

2. If Kennedy and other Dems opposed rather than supported massive illegal immigration of low-wage laborers, wouldn't the minimum wage naturally rise? Aren't those Dems who support massive low-skilled immigration serving the interests of (just as an example) Bush's backers and working against the interests of those Americans earning minimum wage?

Anonymous said...

Once again, the United States Government has a choice to make. Is it going to allow itself to be pushed around by the people who elected it, or is it going to stand tall and do what's right for the country? After all, the great majority of complainers are uneducated dolts who lack the big-picture perspective to care about anything beyond themselves - if they really had any smarts, they'd be CEO's themselves! You never hear CEO's suggesting the minimum wage should be raised. Here in Canada, for example, the minimum wage has been ratcheted up to around $8.00!!! It's killing the country, you can tell by the way our currency keeps climbing against the greenback. Don't let it happen to you.

MediaBloodhound said...

Lower? And you call yourself a conservative, Swift? I say no wage at all. Let's take that money from the wages we cut from those Mexicans - who, by the way, make hand over fist but send it back to their massive families before our generous government can count it - and give it back to the folks who deserve it most: the overtaxed, wealthiest 1% who work tirelessly so that we may continue to wake up every morning and thank God that we're not Mexican. Isn't that what America is all about? Also, simply lowering the wage would only encourage this cross-border welfare system of pay for work. It's time we get back to the basics in this country, when work itself was the goal and not the corrupting influence of money.

Randy said...

By significantly lowering the minimum wage below Mexico's, we could end the immigration problem very quickly.

Now you're talking! This is exactly the approach the President (hallowed be his name!) specializes in: make our country so undesirable that nobody wants to come here, and there's no immigration problem. And look how many ways it can be done!
Aside from lowering or, better still, eliminating the minimum wage, there's the "Clean Air Act" and such, to keep away vagrants who might want potable water or some such whiny thing; take away those "liberties" and "freedoms" they always seem to go on about wanting; devalue the dollar so it wouldn't be worth sending money home if they did come here. That's how we can keep them out!
And at that point, we could be sure that anybody who did try to enter our once-great nation must be coming to commit acts of terror—why else would they?—and we can treat them as the terrorists they obviously are. Helloooo, waterboards!

Randy said...

It's working!

Though when it gets to this bit, "[t]he travel industry's recommendation is 'motivated by greed,' said Michael Cutler, a former INS inspector now with the Center for Immigration Studies," it seems a bit odd. He says that as though being motivated by greed were a bad thing!

Madeleine said...

gimblet: How about if you 59 cents an hour to employ people to shoot Mexicans desperate enough to come over for the extra 2 cents/hr.

I say we make *prisoners* do that work for us. They like killing people anyway and this way we make them work for their keep. A win-win situation!

benmerc said...

last time i checked the history books it was reagan that busted the balls of every union and consequently opened the flood gates for the current labor and immigration issues we now confront. many small and large labor intense industries have welcomed this for years, and every one was on the band wagon of profit, now that the climate is changing all those that made their millions in profit will deny and duck, lie and run from this reality...sounds like your typical republican businessman, at least i've verified them where i live and work.... and, of course they will blame it all on ''libruls'' and the mexicans...the foul hypocrites they are.

Anonymous said...

So you're basically advocating a return to slavery, huh? Are you insane or just incredibly immoral?

Maybe you wouldn't have the same perspective if you were a low wage worker yourself, but then again, it's probably too hard for you to imagine being in someone else's shoes considering you are so self-centered and self-serving.

Jesus Knickerbocker said...

Hmmmm.... If you don't get the biting sarcasm here I'm at a loss for words.

Great post Swift.

Anonymous said...

Can you be anymore racist? Like you said, if you were in their shoes, you wouldn't think like you do. If you have a low wage is because you don't do much, but the immigrants that come to this country come to work. They don't take away jobs from you, they do the job that you aren't willing to do and they do it for less than you are getting paid. They are the ones that should be mad about it, not you...how selfish you are! And you consider yourself a what?

kamakula said...

Jon, there is a problem with lowering the minimum wage to below that of Mexico. While we may solve the immigration problem, we would simultaneously create an emigration problem of Americans sneaking into Mexico to work.

The solution is to make our minimum wage mirror Mexico's as well as our health care, civil laws, police, etc. Essentially, mirror our country on Mexico. That way, there is no additional incentive to cross the border in either direction.

Anonymous said...

You'd also be able to collect taxes now from people since illegals are not paying taxes and sending the money back to their countries. Businesses will be able to get tax deductions for paying someone $1/hr. The American making $1/hr will most likely spend that money in America and continue to add to the ecomomy.

dfager23@yahoo.com said...

I understand sarcasm but it's not funny because America is losing it's middle class. Wall Street, big business and Republicans want the freedom to sell us payday loans, outrageous interest rates, 50 year mortgages and reverse mortgages. They want the freedom to lose our money during a recession, so our savings and retirements dwindle. Then they want to eliminate social security and leave us with nothing.

I lived in a third world country while serving in the Army. I seriously believe that Republicans want what's left of the middle class living in cardboard shacks around the city dump, waiting for them to throw us more garbage, but then recruit our children to fight their wars to protect big oil industries.

It's not funny!!

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