It has been my experience that those on the left are loathe to engage in meaningful debate of the issues that separate them from those of us on the right. Occasionally I will find comments on a “progressive” blog or web site that I feel compelled to address. When I make my comments I am frequently met with obscenities or other impolite talk and comments that I should shut up because I do not know what I am talking about. Rarely do I find someone who is willing, and able, to calmly and rationally debate an issue. I use the word “able” because I rarely find someone on the left capable of using logical analysis. On those rare occasions when I do, their logic seems rather limited.
The reason for this is simple. Much of what the left espouses is based on feelings and emotion rather than thinking through an issue. The minimum wage is a classic example of what I am talking about. California is basically bankrupt and has some of the highest taxes in the nation. As a result, businesses are closing up and moving to other states with a much friendlier tax policy. In addition, some California communities have passed laws increasing the minimum wage significantly above the federal minimum. This, too, is another incentive for businesses to move to other states. I recently read that a California representative wants to raise the state minimum wage to $26 an hour. The reasoning, if it can be called that, is the usually hue and cry that one cannot support a family on the current minimum wage. This is a purely emotional appeal intended to pull at the heartstrings.
Now lets analyze this a moment. It was never intended that the minimum wage was for the main family bread-winner. The purpose of the minimum wage was as a training wage for those entering the workforce for the first time. This would typically be your high school graduate or dropout who has no family to support and is still living at home with his or her parents. Anyone who stays on the job, is willing to learn, and has a good work ethic will progress beyond the minimum wage in a short period of time. As experience and job skills accrue, that person will be able to command greater wages in the job market.
If there is a person with a family to support that is still at minimum wage, my first question is why is that person still at minimum wage after being in the workforce for a number of years. My experience as a director of human resources gives me an answer. After having reviewed thousands of job applications, those that are still at minimum wage typically have not stayed at any one job long enough to develop meaningful job skills because they either do not have a good work ethic or carry a chip on their should and will not get along with supervisors. The bottom line is that they are not very marketable in the labor market and are a liability rather than an asset.
The next issue in this analysis is what are the natural consequences of raising the minimum wage? The logical consequence is that there will be greater unemployment among the unskilled workers and greater unemployment among the skilled workers. Here is why. The new minimum wage creates a ripple effect up the ranks of all workers such that all other workers will expect their wages to increase appropriately as well. With the cost of labor being a significant part of operating costs, this would put a tremendous amount of strain on most businesses, a strain that some businesses will not be able to withstand. To adapt to the strain businesses will slow the hiring down and do with less. Some at the top of the wage rates of skilled workers could also be let go or their jobs not filled as natural attrition sees them come vacant. Consumer prices will have to increase in order to bring in revenue to pay for the wage increases. This inflationary spiral would offset any benefits of the wage gains. The net long-term result is that the poor will still be poor because the poverty level will be set somewhat higher.
A higher minimum wage has a lot emotional appeal but is not sustainable logically. But the left will ride that emotion for what it is worth. The will talk about the greed of the wealthy and the greed of those on the right and attempt to paint the right as uncaring puppets of the wealthy. An atmosphere of class envy or class warfare will be created, all based on emotion.
Back to my original point. Meaningful debate is often fruitless with progressives because they will always resort to emotion based argument rather than logic based on facts.