Minimum wage is not the answer…

I have mixed emotions about talk of raising the minimum wage. I have always thought it mean spirited the way some employers like to keep wages so low but at the same time I have to say there is no future in working at low-pay jobs and the best thing to do is to move out of them — easier said that done, no doubt.

I mean it is a sad state of affairs if you have to depend upon the government setting your wage scale (well that is unless you work directly for the government).

For people too far into the game or for people of just plain limited ability there is not much hope likely. But for everyone else, especially young people, the only way out is to improve your skills and make yourself more valuable to employers. And I know from painful experience that if you choose a line of work that historically does not pay well or is too limited or might be prone to be becoming outdated you’re probably looking for trouble. I mean if you choose something you feel you just have to do then you also must be prepared to live with the good but the bad too.

In this ever-changing and technology-driven world of work there just is no future in unskilled labor. It’s really kind of scary.

As far as mandating that, say, fast food workers, or food service workers make more per hour — that is a government mandate, I’m not sure how that works. The first tactic of the employers will be to hire fewer people and maybe even let some people go — making the ones left work that much harder. And in the food service industry there is already a movement to eliminate many jobs. While I don’t think I have been to such a place, there are restaurants, besides fast food places, I think, that have no waiters — you order through an electronic device (at least I think I saw a story to that effect). And I imagine it would not be too far of a stretch to see robots replace the wait staff.

At some point in the distant future we may start all over again and go back to being human, either through preference or some cataclysmic event. But until then, moving out of minimum wage is the answer. I don’t think a government program is going to be as effective on that as individual initiative. It’s really done one person at a time. Some people are willing to invest in their own future and others not.

And still, there may need to be some government-imposed floor on wages. But you can’t just mandate everyone be paid some artificial figure called a “living wage”. Economics does not work that way. If everyone made the same, whatever they made would be worth nothing — think about that.

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