Archive for Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Living-wage effect

July 22, 2003


To the editor:

Implementing a "living wage" in Lawrence will have the opposite effect than its proponents claim it will have. Rather than increase the living conditions and wages of Lawrence workers, it will increase unemployment and decrease the average wage. It will discourage businesses to enter or stay in Lawrence. These effects will be felt most by the people a living wage is supposedly meant to help.

The first argument thrown against a living wage is the loss of jobs it may create, but the effects reach further than just that. Raising the wage of a job will increase its value to other workers, including skilled workers, which will force unskilled workers to compete against a larger pool of workers for a smaller number of jobs. Those who are unable to compete will have to search for new employment, increasing the supply of available workers and pushing down the wage of other jobs.

Simply declaring that the lowest-paid workers will get a raise is not a solution. If living wage proponents are truly concerned for the poor, they should take an objective look at what causes the standard of living of all citizens to rise. They will find that prosperity is not gained through government decree, but through production by honest, hard-working people. Stealing from productive people only works when there are productive people around, which will not be the case in Lawrence if the city continues to consider ideas such as a living wage.

Darren Cauthon,


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