Opinion Columns & Blogs

Higher minimum wage is giving up

I can’t help but feel like we’re giving up.

The quickest way for a parent to fail is to give up and allow the child to do as it pleases. The easiest way for a teacher to fail is to give up and allow the students to do what they want, and not what’s best for the students.

The same principle is true with a country. With the recent uproar about raising the minimum wage, I can’t help but feel like we are giving up as a country. And therefore we are failing.

I understand that it feels good to help others. But is giving someone something for doing nothing a smart thing? My heart says sure. That extra three or four bucks will add up. It hurts me, too, to see people suffer. But are we actually helping?

Aren’t we really saying to that minimum-wage earner, “Odds are, you are unable to take care of yourself without the help of government or big corporations?” We are saying precisely just that. Whether it’s politically correct to say it or not, under the guise of “helping,” we are merely placating the lower-income population. A co-worker used the phrase “dumbing down” recently in a heated office debate, and unfortunately I think she’s right on.

We’re saying that we should give them what they need to barely survive, and no incentive to do more. No jobs programs, just more bailouts. The so-called “living” wage is nothing more than a shiny white sepulcher for sure. It may look and feel good from the outside, but when we dig a little deeper with logic and thought, the stuff inside smells anything but sweet.

This destroying of the human spirit saddens me. Because I believe that every sane person is capable of bettering himself or herself, it feels like the push for the higher wage is ultimately demeaning.

It reminds me of the Oak Creek elk feeding station near Naches. The animals no longer have a reason to migrate to wintering grounds to fend for themselves. It’s too late. Man has intervened and provided an easier way. Now we just show up and beep our horns and the wapiti come running.

Usually it’s those on the right who are accused of having hard hearts. Not so fast in the case of minimum wage. The right is actually saying, “I have faith in you. I believe that you can succeed without selling your soul to the big corporations.”

“But the big corporations can afford it,” the rebuttal goes. Of course they can. But the not-so-big companies can’t. And there simply is no argument to the fact that the small mom-and-pop businesses are going to suffer the most.

Who will take those clients and customers of the newly defunct small businesses? The big companies, of course. This is what we want? This will narrow the income gap?

With tongue only partially in cheek, perhaps the owners of these small companies should be the ones receiving the minimum wage. They take 100 percent of the risk, they create jobs, and they pay health care and a lot of taxes. But no guaranteed wage for them.

The dishwasher gets to pay his rent while the restaurant owner’s home is being foreclosed. It’s happening now. Imagine what it will be like when we make them pay even more.

“Give money to the lower earning class and they will spend it, and put money right back into the economy,” is another popular argument I hear from my left-leaning friends.

Spend it on what? Rent? I would bet that apartment complex is owned by a wealthy person by my standards. Insurance? We all know the insurance companies are making more coin than ever.

What’s the rest going to be spent on? Locally crafted, more expensive products? Not a chance. Those products made in China and sold in big-box stores? Absolutely.

But wait, I thought those in favor of increasing the minimum wage were opposed to greedy landlords, insurance companies and big-box stores. So this is where we want the minimum wagers’ new-found income to go?

The truth of what we’re saying is sad. “Don’t bother trying, we know you can’t make it without us, because the spirit of the American dream is dead. We’ll just beep our horns and you’ll come running.”

Sad indeed. It feels a lot like giving up.