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Doug Wrenn

What Part Of The Word "Minimum" Do Minimum Wage Workers Not Understand?
By Doug Wrenn
Dec 8, 2013 - 12:23:44 AM

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Minimum wage fast food workers have recently garnered maximum news coverage this past week by supposedly walking out of their work places to strike and protest for a 100% increase in the minimum wage in many US cities.

Come to find out, many of those interviewed admitted that it was their day off. Well, it looked impressive, anyway, to put it minimally.

The current US minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. The disgruntled, minimally experienced, minimally educated, minimally skilled and often, minimally motivated (my own many personal observations) workers are demanding a minimum of a modest increase of say, oh....more than double, $15.00 per hour. The Socialist In Chief, President Obama, the former constitutional law professor who seems to have forgotten what the Tenth Amendment stands for, is on their side, and advocating a federal increase of the minimum wage, but to only $9.00. As for the states, why they are only a bunch of nagging pests anyway, and likewise with their rights. Just ask Arizona Jan Brewer for starters, who has locked horns with the King himself since his coronation.

Minimum wage fast food workers claim they can't live on what they make and they need to support their families. But in a February 28, 2013 Heritage Foundation essay by James Sherk, entitled, "Who Earns Minimum Wage? Suburban Teenagers, Not Single Parents," that theory is quickly deflated in the title, and more so by the text. The numbers, which Sherk acquired from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau, just don't support the claim and most minimum wage earners are just what we think they are, school kids, working part time while still living with Mommy and Daddy. Even those in their mid-20's, according to Sherk are usually part timers going to school, few are bread winners, and only about 22% live at or below the poverty line. More than half are teenagers. Only 5% are even married.

Sherk goes on to cite how even elderly minimum wage earners, who have already been educated and in the work force, still on average, about $42,500 yearly. He also shows how raising the minimum wage does not even effectively address poverty as the real poor are not working at all.

So what if we do double the minimum wage? Some current employees will lose their jobs. Few to none will be hired to replace them. The minimum wage earners will be required to do maximum work because their higher wage now requires their employers to do more with less, and last but not least, expect the price of that squished, dry, rubbery burger that looks nothing like the one in the TV commercials to double in price along with the wage of the worker who "cooked" it for you.

In our age of entitlement, this is whole idea would be just one more laugh if it weren't so sad. One interviewed protester said to get him to do a good job, an employer should meet him half way. Huh? What ever happened to work ethic? Shouldn't you be doing a good job anyway? And why should an employer meet this untested worker "halfway"? What ever happened to work ethic and the premise of proving yourself? And why should uneducated, inexperienced, unskilled, untested workers in an entry level position have to be paid more anyway? Such positions are intended to be the ground level for resume building, and not for anyone with a pulse to be the company CEO. I don't mind an occasional and reasonable increase in their wages to coincide with inflation, but double? Why? What do these people do or have even yet achieved to warrant a double increase in wages, especially when many of these companies already offer incentive raises? It should also be understood that in the interview process, prospective employees are typically told what their starting wage will be. Their decision then, if being considered for the position, is to either, negotiate for a higher wage, accept what's offered, or look elsewhere. This rubbish that an employer needs to meet an employee "half way" (code for kissing his backside because Mommy and Daddy drowned him in self esteem obsession all his life) to get him to adequately perform in his job is utterly inane. On the flip side, some businesses protest a minimum wage increase of a few cents and claim it will cost profits and jobs. Assuming they are even being honest, if their operating margin is that slim, they should probably close shop anyway. But that doesn't justify a two dollar increase, and certainly not a double increase, either.

Just yesterday, I walked out of a certain fast food restaurant (with two big yellow letters in front of the building) because three of its employees were jabbering in the back to each other, with two leaning on the counter, one with her back to me, and the other looking at me, and another employee standing next to them, also looking at me, and for several minutes, none of them could be bothered to wait on yours truly, the ONLY customer at the counter. Just to order a cup of coffee in these places, I often have to repeat my order several times, and that even includes the ones who do actually have a command of the English language. One time after just leaving a family member who had serious surgery in the hospital, I quickly stopped at a local establishment (same company) in which the employee literally sauntered over to the register while stretching, scratching and yawning and complained to me she was tired. I told her I knew somebody lying on a metal table right now who would gladly switch "problems" with her. Many of these people just flat out need to be fired. They are already being rewarded by the fact that they are unfocused, unmotivated, and uncouth and still gainfully employed. To further encourage such lack of work ethic is an abomination. (But sadly nowadays, not in an "Obama Nation"!)

I am a believer in trickle down economics but I am also a realist and am hip to greed, too. Workers do deserve some protection. Capitalism left unleashed brought us the Robber Barons of the Gilded Era and many employees and families suffered intimidation, illness, injuries, and even death because of it. The fast food workers are also asking for the alleged "right" to unionize. Calling unionization a "right" seems a bit of a stretch to me, but I don't have a problem with them being allowed to unionize for purposes of protection. One worker said she was fired for taking a sick day. Without the benefit of hearing the other side of the story, we are thus left to arrive at our own unenlightened conclusions as to her alleged plight, but if she was sick, she certainly had no place working and handling food. Many (although certainly not all) fast food workers are hardly the pinnacles of ambition and integrity. And as someone who has worked both with and without a union, I have seen my share of abuse from both unions and management, and left to their own devices, I trust neither. So unionization may be a prudent idea to keep things on more of an even plain, but of course, once that gate is opened, we are back to square one again with the ludicrous idea of doubling or even, as the President advocated, significantly raising the minimum wage.

Besides the federal government's constitutional intrusion on the states rights articulated in the Tenth Amendment by establishing a national minimum wage, states also have their own minimum wages. The Supreme Court in US vs. Darby Lumber Company reversed an appellate court decision that adhered to the Tenth Amendment. The Supreme Court cited the ever bastardized and overstretched Interstate Commerce Clause in the Constitution that Congress can regulate interstate trade as its defense to the Tenth Amendment. Under Article 1, Section 8, while Congress does have the authority to regulate trade, it does not have the authority to regulate labor, and this is more of a labor than commerce issue. The debate over the Interstate Commerce clause abuse has been the topic of books and now I understand is even the crux of Constitutional Law taught in law schools because it is now so expansive. And King Obama is making this a key issue in the remainder of his term, so even on the questionable federal level, don't look for this issue to go away any time soon.

We see what the entitlement culture and socialism has done in Europe. It has led to lack of production, disgruntlement, malaise, economic catastrophe and even riots. President Reagan once correctly said that once you establish a tax, program or government bureaucracy, you will never get rid of it. History has verified that claim.

So what do we have to potentially look forward to? More job loss, the closure of many fast food outlets that will fail to produce and compete, and in a national economy in which the service industry is growing at the cost of the demise of the manufacturing industry, that is a huge hit. And if not, prices will double, production will suffer, and these already unmotivated workers who won't care about their raises once they not only will have to actually work, but work even harder to compensate for their laid off colleagues, they will soon quit, adding more of a strain to the fast food industry, and a dwindling economy with higher rates of unemployment and the increased government pay-outs to subsidize it.

For the disgruntled minimum wage, minimally skilled and motivated burger cremators who fancy themselves chefs worthy of competitive pay for proven ability and ethic, I only repeat to you the sage adage so often already found to be true to so many others before you, and also the hard way: "Be careful what you wish for, or else....you may get it."

Doug Wrenn


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