At a time when Americans are bemoaning the state of their economy and loss of jobs – and blaming it all on China – I have a radical suggestion to increase employment, especially for those who did not get to go to college. Abolish the minimum wage and let market forces prevail. I am sure this will elicit howls of outrage and derision from many of you, but hear me out.
Americans are rightly pessimistic about how tough things are these days; how it’s getting tougher and tougher to pay the bills. For this sorry state of affairs, they blame their government, Wall Street, Big Oil, China – the list is endless. In fact, they blame everyone except themselves. The reality is that the average Joe in the US wants the best of both worlds. He expects what he considers a decent wage and, at the same time, he wants to visit Wal-Mart and pick up a shirt for under $10. The two demands are mutually incompatible, however. You cannot sell an American-made shirt for less than $30 at current wage levels. But would patriotic Joe who always displays the Star Spangled Banner on his house, bite the bullet and pay the higher price for made-in-America products? I don’t think so.
Holding down a minimum wage job gives you just about enough money to scrape by, but it is better than having no job at all. Some would argue that it is better to go on welfare than accept a lower standard of living. I do not agree. It is not just about money. Being jobless for a prolonged period of time is demeaning. It robs you of your dignity and self respect. Even a job you are over-qualified for is preferable to sitting at home.
That is where the minimum wage comes in. It is a common complaint among Americans that illegal workers and aliens are grabbing many of the low- paying jobs that should have come to them. For this, they blame not only the illegals but also the avaricious bosses who employ them. While it is true that some employers are only seeking to maximize their profits, there are many others who would prefer to employ Americans but cannot afford to do so because of the economic climate and the minimum wage requirement. If the minimum wage was abolished, Americans could compete with Mexicans and others for blue-collar jobs on an equal basis. Believe me, given a choice, most employers would hire Americans; not just from altruistic motives but because it would eliminate the risk of being hauled up by the authorities.
It all boils down to the old adage: if you can’t beat them, join them.