Don’t Raise the Minimum Wage—End It!

On May Day I was a guest on a new “progressive” Portland radio station arguing against not only raising the minimum wage, but the policy itself. I was outnumbered four to one on the show, so it was a fair fight.

The show host, former state legislator Jefferson Smith, supported raising the minimum wage. So did his other three guests, including a candidate for Portland City Council who’s spearheading a campaign to raise Portland’s minimum wage from the state’s official $9.10 up to $15 per hour.

My arguments were both moral and practical, focusing on the reality that cutting off the lower rungs of the economic ladder make it more difficult for the young, the less educated, and minorities to even reach the first rung on the ladder if it’s placed higher than the value they might bring to a potential employer.

I took pains to recognize that those supporting the higher minimum wage don’t have bad motives; but good motives in support of bad policy still result in hurting the very people they say they want to help.

You can listen to the entire hour program here:

“Thank You Democracy” May 1, 2014 show
Would a $15/hour minimum wage help or hurt Portland’s working poor?

My segment begins at the 30:14 mark and runs about 13 minutes.

Four days after my appearance, a Wall Street Journal opinion piece made the case for the real minimum wage being…zero. Many business owners and entrepreneurs make little or no money as they build their businesses. The author correctly pointed out that, “…the minimum wage, like so many government programs, is really a scam that never gets busted.”

About Steve Buckstein

Senior Policy Analyst and founder.
This entry was posted in Cascade Website, Steve Buckstein and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Don’t Raise the Minimum Wage—End It!

  1. Bob Clark says:

    With the huge government safety net we all pay for through our taxes, even more so should the minimum wage be abolished altogether. But the naive populism of minimum wage dates back to the early 1900s, and is just plain hard to get rid of it. So, Oregon already has a second best solution in that the current $8 per hour minimum wage is adjusted for inflation each year.

  2. Paul Fogel says:

    Unfortunately, logic and reason don’t often win the day. On his television show, Free to Choose, Milton Friedman confronted the advocates of a high minimum wage with a simple proposal: if the minimum wage really has no effect on employment, then don’t raise the minimum wage by a few cents; go all the way! Raise the minimum to $50 an hour, or a $100 an hour. Then everyone would be rich! He was trying to make the point that you cannot legislate wealth. But those in favor of minimum wages think that business can well afford it, business makes too much profit as it is, and that workers are exploited; they can’t get a fair shake through the free market. Even if you can show these activists that they’re actually hurting the poor, they still won’t accept it. All they know is what’s in front, and what they can see is people working with higher wages. They cannot see the people who have been laid off to pay for it.

  3. M Taylor says:

    These high-minded, faux-selfless apparatchicks won’t be happy until America has reached European levels of youth and minority unemployment. In my mind, probably no issue better than minimum wage exemplifies the apparently irretractable cultural bias in our country to pursue mindless, self-adulating economic policy that is the mathematical equivalent of propounding that 2+2 = 5. Obama actually said recently in one of his speeches that raising minimum wage wouldn’t affect unemployment! Thanks for fighting the good fight Cascade…..

    • Neil Huff says:

      The absolute flood of illegal aliens pouring over our unguarded borders will
      certainly make the owners of businesses that hire these criminals ecstatic. These economic migrants will snap up every job they can and businesses will hire them off the formal payrolls in spite of laws (unenforced) prohibiting it. This unending flow of labor in a shrinking economy will lower wages to levels of destitution. Businesses will circumvent the laws wherever possible in order to hire these desperate people and hasten our decline into lawlessness and economic chaos. Which are precisely the conditions the illegals are here to escape and, of course, are bringing with them. I will be astonished if under these emerging circumstances very many states will be pushing up their minimum. wages.

  4. Neil Huff says:

    Given the disparity in wealth and the death grip big business and the financial institutions have on government it already is an employers market. Organized labor is politically impotent…excepting civil service unions. Eradicating the minimum wage under these circumstances would totally demolish the lower ranks of the middle class. Uncontrolled immigration continues to feed into the labor force workers who will accept virtually any wage. Living several families to an apartment or house, any wage they receive here is infinitely better than NO job in Mexico and points south.
    Native born American workers will be unable to maintain any semblance of a decent livelihood competing with immigrant labor. This is why big business still lobbies Washington to keep the borders leaking poor and desperate workers and support amnesty for illegals. If big capital continues unopposed to call the shots in government they will not be happy until our populace resembles that of India or Brazil- a great, well controlled and wildly diverse mass at the bottom vying for every scrap and too busy fighting group against group to confront the oligarchs. At the top a few hundred dynastic families will control everything. Homeland Security will keep order.

  5. Neil Huff says:

    Every time the minimum wage has been raised in the past 30 yrs the very same opposing arguments have been raised. But somehow until the current recession the minimum wage has NOT destroyed capitalism or new business start ups. In any case I think some thing like a third of all new businesses fail within a few years and I doubt the major cause of failure has ever been the high cost of labor.

  6. Neil Huff says:

    A bit of research….. Cost of labor NOT a factor…No mention of a minimum wage
    causing start up failures….

    “What are the major reasons for small business failure?
    In his book Small Business Management (published by West Publishing Co.), Michael Ames gives us the following reasons for small business failure:
    • Lack of experience
    • Insufficient capital (money)
    • Poor location
    • Poor inventory management
    • Over-investment in fixed assets
    • Poor credit arrangement management
    • Personal use of business funds
    • Unexpected growth

    Gustav Berle in The Do It Yourself Business Book (published by Wiley Co.) adds two more reasons to Michael Ames’ list:
    • Competition
    • Low Sales

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>