The minimum wage has been a hotly debated issue for sometime now. Those in favor of the minimum wage argue that “well paid workers are productive and they don’t have to rely of government assistance,” or that “all labor should be respected.” Those against raising the minimum wage argue that it hurts the economy and the American worker rather than helping them, whereas those in favor of it would like us to believe.
Rather than rehash this argument, and say things that have already been said a thousand times, while not really adding anything new or helpful to the conversation, let’s take this discussion in a different direction.
So instead of asking “Does the minimum wage work?” as it has been proven countless times that it doesn’t work. Perhaps a better question to ask is “What is wrong with our economic structure that we even need a minimum wage?”
Before we can answer that question we must understand the purpose behind the minimum wage. The minimum wage was created so that people could earn enough money to pay their living expenses. This is why so many people are in favor of raising the minimum wage, because at its current rate, the minimum wage does not cover the cost of living depending on one’s geographic location. Now that’s not to say that you should be able to support a family of nine on a minimum wage salary, with a stay-at-home wife (nothing against stay-at-home moms, my mother was/is one).
The problem with the minimum wage, besides the fact that it doesn’t work is that it’s a stop-gap measure. It’s like trying to put a band-aid on a broken leg. The minimum wage was implemented because the economic system was failing.
Before we can try to diagnose the problem with our economic system and figure out how to fix it, we have to understand what the economic system is supposed to do and why it was created in the first place.
If our economic system was functioning properly it would supply the players with sufficient funds in order to be players in the economic system. This was Henry Ford’s basic philosophy. He wanted to pay his employees enough money so that they would be able to purchase the products the participated in manufacturing.
So if you’re making hamburgers at McDonalds you should be able to afford to buy a hamburger. If you work at Wal-Mart, you should be able to afford to shop at Wal-Mart. But that also means that if you work at a fancy restaurant, you should make enough that you can afford to eat there.
So maybe we should stop asking why the band-aid isn’t helping the broken leg, and try and figure out why our economic system is failing and what we can do to fix itFollow Katherine on Twitter: @Kathzeh