Minimum Wage: Minimal Response
My wealthy friend Ernesto stopped by the other evening, sporting a new Hybrid Escalade and a readiness for political debate. Unlike last time, this time I was prepared.
“About time. Paul Ferrand,” Ernesto, said as I tilted the amber bottle into his snifter.
“Just what you had asked for last time. Please, sit back, relax, and let’s catch up.”
“Catch up are exactly the words I would use, my friend,” Ernesto chortled. “By the way, this is a solid good cognac, although I prefer Pour Moi, if you truly want to impress me. But I digress. My goodness, it seems your union governor is in some trouble as this election approaches. He is falling behind in the latest polling, isn’t this true?”
“Well, not exactly, Ernesto, in several ways. Although, for the life of me I sometimes cannot tell why, he has actually pulled slightly ahead of the challenger Rauner in the last week. Why do you suppose that is happening?”
“The union support, sadly, “ replied my distinguished friend.
“I think not, Ernesto. Not many of us union lackeys have any love or even voting predilection for a governor who not only signed SB1 into law but promises to come back to a plan B if the Court declares it unconstitutional. And the head of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, Dan Montgomery’s statements the other night on WTTW to develop a plan to work together for “pension reform” makes Quinn’s backup plan even more threatening to union workers in Illinois.”
“And thus…” Ernesto smiled broadly, “you are between a veritable stone and painful rock. So, will you vote for the right man, Rauner?”
“Not so fast, Ernesto. We are indeed between a veritable stone and painful rock – although I might have said it differently. But voting for a man who would cut if not ignore the need to increase the minimum wage would hurt more than just me or my union lackeys. It would undermine the lives of hundreds of thousands of workers in Illinois.”
“So you buy into the ridiculous advertising of the Quinn commercial that Rauner is evil because he does not agree with an unnecessary increase for the many, many young workers in entry level positions who are learning about work?”
“Maybe before the Great Recession, Ernesto, but pickings have been slim since then, and PEW Research would say that although about half of the nearly 4 million workers in the U.S. who are at the federal minimum wage are below age 24, nearly 21% are in ages up to 34. Those aren’t dropouts or students living in basements, Ernesto. At age 25 to 34, they’re looking to find living quarters, independence, food, and a future. There’s been no relief in many states for these workers as the Consumers Price Index has increased over a decade or more.”
Ernesto scoffed: “Well, these increases – linked to the CPI or even some arbitrary number like in Oregon - will have no effect on the workers’ lives. As the CPI increases, their costs will increase, so it is a null achievement.”
“Wait a moment, my good friend. It is A.L.E.C. and Rauner who claim that any increase in the minimum wage is circular and compounding. Now, you make the same argument against increasing the lot of those who toil at lower wages. Keeping them unable to maintain the increases in costs of living serves what purpose? Am I to understand that your argument extrapolated is that paying people less than what is needed to survive will benefit me (and them?) when it comes time to buy a pair of shoes? Really? Isn’t that circular and compounding?”
“You union liberals personalize everything. When you increase the minimum wage, you create inflation. And whenever government plays with the possibility of increased minimum wages to match increases in the CPI, we find ourselves suffering a worsening of the economy and a resultant destruction of labor statistics.”
“I want to make sure I understand this, Ernesto. Although nearly 30% of the minimum wage working population is over age 35 – that would be single mothers with children and families making up for lost jobs during this recession – they should not be given an increase in the minimum wage nor the match of any increase to the Consumer Price Index under Rauner’s initial (and A.L.E.C. supported) position, and you’d expect me to vote for him over Quinn?”
He didn’t screw you with your pensions, did he?”
“Not yet, but he promises that too, Ernesto.”
“So, are you the stone or the painful rock, my friend?”
“Pour another for me, okay, Ernesto?”