Letters to the Editor

Letter: Minimum wage

April 7, 2014


To the editor:

Opponents of a minimum wage increase are doing an excellent job of making it sound like a government handout. They suggest that it constitutes government interference in a market that determines wages some other way. The truth is, for better or worse, federal minimum wage laws are what determine wages in the United States.

Labor is a commodity and it comes at a price. Unlike physical commodities, labor isn’t sold by companies, just the laborers themselves. There’s no such thing as collective bargaining any more; with so many employees in the job market, it’s too easy for companies to simply lay off or fire their employees and hire new ones. In order to get around that, all workers have to come together and demand changes from all employers at once.

Currently, millions of people on minimum wage also utilize public assistance programs. Some employers that pay minimum wage (or slightly more) even encourage their employees to take advantage of those programs. A minimum wage increase isn’t a public assistance program; it actually means that American taxpayers will no longer have to give workers what they should rightfully earn from their employers. Unlike congressional Republicans, I believe that American workers would rather earn a living than be given one.

In the same way that drivers won’t drive below the speed limit unless they have to, employers won’t pay more than minimum wage unless they have to. Until companies are obligated to pay more, they won’t. It’s as simple as that.


Brock Masters 4 years ago

The people get screwed from both parties. The Republicans don't want to increase the minimum wage and the democrats want to make millions of illegal immigrants legal so they can better compete for the scarce jobs out there.

James Howlette 4 years ago

If they were "made legal," they'd actually be competing at minimum wage instead of below it and covered by labor safety standards. Employers wouldn't have the same pressure to compete with other employers who slashed costs by underpaying migrant workers. Sounds like it's the current documented workers that would be better competing in that scenario, not the other way around.

Steve King 4 years ago

Problem is Brock Americans don't want and won't take the dirty jobs. Try to hire anyone lately to roof your house?

Brock Masters 4 years ago

A couple things to consider about your statement that Americans don't want these so-called dirty jobs. Unless you have a credible source that proves your statement it is just a talking point.

Allowing illegals to work distorts the market of supply and demand. If businesses can't get American workers to work at the wages they are paying and can't use illegals that will work at those wages then they will have to increase the wage. Americans will work unless you believe them to be lazy.

And even those here legally but who still reside in Mexico compare the US wage to the wages they can earn in Mexico which is considerably less. It allows businesses to pay less than the US market demands.

Wayne Kerr 4 years ago

Steve, it's not true that Americans don't want or won't take some jobs. Roofing, for example, is a very physically demanding and dangerous job. Americans are more than willing to do it, but they want to get paid a good wage for doing so. Illegal immigrants are willing to do this work for far less than most Americans and they are undercutting the going rate for this type of work.

Bob Forer 4 years ago

You are absolutely right, Wayne. Meat packing is another example. I have friend who worked in a meatpacking plant for over a decade. He was injured and eventually had to go on disability. It was a grueling, dangerous, and tough job. In his last year, which was probably fifteen years ago, he made, with overtime, a little over $30,000.00. That same job is now probably held by a immigant, with pay of slightly more than minimum wage.

Immigrants--legal or illegal--are willing to work for a lot less

James Howlette 4 years ago

The market depresses wages during tough times - ie during high unemployment, and I'm sick and tired of paying Walmart to underpay their employees. If the market, did in fact, do a good job of determining the minimum wage, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

$10.10 was chosen because that is the amount that gets people out of poverty.

Not $20. Not $50, and hearing Fox news commentators make the same suggestion over and over doesn't at all make them look like crazy shills for big business. https://screen.yahoo.com/amazing-raise-050000427.html

Bob Forer 4 years ago

How bout a minimal living wage, so those who are working forty hours a week do not need government handouts such as foodstamps to survive.

If you don't agree with that, than either: (1) You are okay with your tax dollars subsidizing big corporations who pay less than a living wage; or (2) You find it acceptable in America that people work full time yet still don't have enough to eat.

Brock Masters 4 years ago

Bob, and what is the minimum living wage that all jobs should pay? Is the wage dependent on employee dependents?

Please put a dollar amount to your demand for a living wage.

Bob Forer 4 years ago

Easy. A living wage has already been cacluated by many separate entities, which you should be able to find on the internet. it should be area specific, i.e,, the living wage shoud reflect the higher costs of living in big cities such as New York. I think in Lawrence it is a little over eleven dollars an hour.

At any rate, it is a wage that a single person would be able to live above the poveerty level. It is easily calculabe, and it has been calculated.

I am surprised that you need to ask this question, as the issue of a living wage has been publicly debated for years. Do you homework, Brock. i am too busy to educate an adult.

Brock Masters 4 years ago

Bob, your response is a bit on the immature side. It is quite normal for people to ask questions of one another when engaged in a discussion. Yes, I could have looked up living wage but I wanted your take on it.

Trying to belittle me does not make you appear smart. It just demonstrates sophomoric behavior.

Bob Forer 4 years ago

I am sorry, I assumed you were more informed on the issues, and was trying to be snarky. .

James Howlette 4 years ago

Why not just go with the proposed $10.10? It wouldn't do it for everyone and all numbers of dependents, but it would raise more than half of current minimum wage earners out of poverty. I think that's a fair target.

Steve King 4 years ago

Yes Brock, experience trumps opinion every time. With 30 years experience in construction and owning my own company, hiring and firing, I can tell you I'm right, you're wrong.

Brock Masters 4 years ago

Are you admitting to hiring illegal immigrants?

Show me a study to prove your statement until then it is just anecdotal.

Brock Masters 4 years ago

Why do you think Americans would rather be unemployed than take a "dirty" job?

Not being snarky or asking a gotcha type question. I want to know why you think it is.

Are they lazy or do they get enough in government assistance so they do not have to work?

Mike George 4 years ago

I would say the answer to your last question is "yes", and it is a complicated analysis to decide why there are so many prototypical users and fewer contributors. I certainly don't know all the answers, nor understand the lack of enthusiasm. Perhaps several generations of lack of parental guidance have contributed.

James Howlette 4 years ago

A lot of these "dirty" jobs - roofing, meat packing, etc, are also dangerous jobs, and they don't pay well at all. You will eventually get injured or wear your body out, and you won't be able to work other jobs in the future. There's no pension, no health plan, no future. You're not making enough to save and get out of the situation. Given that choice, I'd rather be unemployed and squeak by on whatever meager unemployment that I can get with the hope that I can find something a little less bleak in the future.

John Graham 4 years ago

Prime example of what is wrong with our society. So instead of working an honest job, however hard it might be, while continuing to look for a better job you would rather live off of taxpayer handouts than earn your own way. There is something to teacher your children. Don't worry about being self sufficient, let the taxpayers pay your way. Spoken like a true liberal.

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