Minimum Wage for Thee, But Not for Me

Raising the minimum wage is a popular issue, especially among progressives who believe the laws of economics apply only in an alternate universe. There is even a web page devoted to raising the minimum wage, noting that, “Across the country, there is overwhelming momentum in favor of raising wages for our nation’s lowest-wage workers.” Why not? Everyone wants to earn more money. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of a living wage.

The AFL-CIO, official labor union of the Democrat Party, wants a higher minimum wage to provide “protection for the country’s lowest-paid workers.” The SEIU, another large labor union, wants a bump in the minimum wage to create jobs and generate economic activity. So why, despite pushing for higher wages, do “some unions want their own members exempt from coverage under those laws?”

Minimum wages for thee but not for me, declares some unions. Instead, “Unions could advise companies that if they agree to labor representation, they can avoid paying the minimum wage, spending less on wages overall.” Good business decision, at least for the union shops, but not for anyone else.

Let’s follow the money. A company can unionize and instead of paying $15 per hour, pay only $8 an hour, saving a bunch of money. A win for the company. Workers in the newly unionized company are now paying union dues. A win for the union. Finally, over 90 percent of union political donations, made up largely of dues, go to Democrats. A win for the Democrats, the party that would grant the minimum wage exemptions by virtue of their control of the executive branch of government.

Some win, but some also lose. What about the teenager looking for a summer job? He or she loses. Instead of hiring two kids to wash cars or flip burgers at $7 per hour each, now the business can only hire one kid at $15 per hour. Nice for the kid making $15, not so nice for the kid not hired and earning nothing.

Small business also loses to unionized business. The union shop, with its handy exemption, can hire those two teenagers. They will have twice the productivity of the single higher-paid teenager working at the non-union shop. Multiply that by lots of workers and which business will be more productive and profitable? And which, due to its higher labor costs, will be less or not profitable, possibly going out of business? Thereby providing more business to the union shop. Quite convenient when the government takes out your competition.

No surprise here. I wrote about this several months ago, observing how a minimum wage boost in San Francisco and Seattle caused businesses to close or else significantly raise their prices. Basic economics. When something costs more, such as labor, people buy less of it, meaning laying off workers or not hiring. Or else they have to raise their prices to cover their higher labor costs. What good is a higher wage if everything costs more? Those living paycheck to paycheck will still be doing that, only with a larger paycheck still buying the same amount of goods and services.

Are there other hypocrites apart from the labor unions? “In the 2014 State of the Union address, President Obama called again on Congress to raise the national minimum wage.” Great sound bite for the evening news. But what does President Obama do in his own house? Seems the White House doesn’t see the need to pay its 300 interns the minimum wage. Instead they pay no wage, meaning zero dollars per hour. As a Washington Post op-ed noted, “There’s no good excuse for the president of the United States to rely on unpaid labor, particularly as the practice consistently violates his stated convictions.”

Minimum wage for thee but not for me.

Is Congress any better? Congressional interns are paid the same as White House interns. Nothing. “Rep. Al Green (D - Texas), sponsor of the Original Living Wage Act of 2015, does not pay his interns. He believes that people should earn a living wage, except for people on his staff.”

Minimum wage for thee, but not for me.

Finally Democrat presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton endorsed a $15 minimum wage. But not for her interns. They are on the same wage scale as White House and Congressional interns.

Minimum wage for thee, but not for me.

Democrats are all about the “living wage”, at least as a means of pandering to potential voters. But when it comes to themselves and their core constituents, such as labor unions, they suddenly get a whiff of economic reality and open their eyes to the laws of supply and demand.

Internships at the White House and in Congress are in demand. Not sure about internships with Hillary’s campaign. The desirable positions can be unpaid based on supply and demand. Not so for the San Francisco bookstore or Seattle pizzeria. Rather than letting the business and worker negotiate a mutually fair wage, the know-better government is setting the wage. And without the exemption reserved for the loyal Democrat soldiers running the labor unions.

Brian C Joondeph, MD, MPS, a Denver based retina surgeon and writer. Follow him on Facebook  and Twitter

Raising the minimum wage is a popular issue, especially among progressives who believe the laws of economics apply only in an alternate universe. There is even a web page devoted to raising the minimum wage, noting that, “Across the country, there is overwhelming momentum in favor of raising wages for our nation’s lowest-wage workers.” Why not? Everyone wants to earn more money. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of a living wage.

The AFL-CIO, official labor union of the Democrat Party, wants a higher minimum wage to provide “protection for the country’s lowest-paid workers.” The SEIU, another large labor union, wants a bump in the minimum wage to create jobs and generate economic activity. So why, despite pushing for higher wages, do “some unions want their own members exempt from coverage under those laws?”

Minimum wages for thee but not for me, declares some unions. Instead, “Unions could advise companies that if they agree to labor representation, they can avoid paying the minimum wage, spending less on wages overall.” Good business decision, at least for the union shops, but not for anyone else.

Let’s follow the money. A company can unionize and instead of paying $15 per hour, pay only $8 an hour, saving a bunch of money. A win for the company. Workers in the newly unionized company are now paying union dues. A win for the union. Finally, over 90 percent of union political donations, made up largely of dues, go to Democrats. A win for the Democrats, the party that would grant the minimum wage exemptions by virtue of their control of the executive branch of government.

Some win, but some also lose. What about the teenager looking for a summer job? He or she loses. Instead of hiring two kids to wash cars or flip burgers at $7 per hour each, now the business can only hire one kid at $15 per hour. Nice for the kid making $15, not so nice for the kid not hired and earning nothing.

Small business also loses to unionized business. The union shop, with its handy exemption, can hire those two teenagers. They will have twice the productivity of the single higher-paid teenager working at the non-union shop. Multiply that by lots of workers and which business will be more productive and profitable? And which, due to its higher labor costs, will be less or not profitable, possibly going out of business? Thereby providing more business to the union shop. Quite convenient when the government takes out your competition.

No surprise here. I wrote about this several months ago, observing how a minimum wage boost in San Francisco and Seattle caused businesses to close or else significantly raise their prices. Basic economics. When something costs more, such as labor, people buy less of it, meaning laying off workers or not hiring. Or else they have to raise their prices to cover their higher labor costs. What good is a higher wage if everything costs more? Those living paycheck to paycheck will still be doing that, only with a larger paycheck still buying the same amount of goods and services.

Are there other hypocrites apart from the labor unions? “In the 2014 State of the Union address, President Obama called again on Congress to raise the national minimum wage.” Great sound bite for the evening news. But what does President Obama do in his own house? Seems the White House doesn’t see the need to pay its 300 interns the minimum wage. Instead they pay no wage, meaning zero dollars per hour. As a Washington Post op-ed noted, “There’s no good excuse for the president of the United States to rely on unpaid labor, particularly as the practice consistently violates his stated convictions.”

Minimum wage for thee but not for me.

Is Congress any better? Congressional interns are paid the same as White House interns. Nothing. “Rep. Al Green (D - Texas), sponsor of the Original Living Wage Act of 2015, does not pay his interns. He believes that people should earn a living wage, except for people on his staff.”

Minimum wage for thee, but not for me.

Finally Democrat presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton endorsed a $15 minimum wage. But not for her interns. They are on the same wage scale as White House and Congressional interns.

Minimum wage for thee, but not for me.

Democrats are all about the “living wage”, at least as a means of pandering to potential voters. But when it comes to themselves and their core constituents, such as labor unions, they suddenly get a whiff of economic reality and open their eyes to the laws of supply and demand.

Internships at the White House and in Congress are in demand. Not sure about internships with Hillary’s campaign. The desirable positions can be unpaid based on supply and demand. Not so for the San Francisco bookstore or Seattle pizzeria. Rather than letting the business and worker negotiate a mutually fair wage, the know-better government is setting the wage. And without the exemption reserved for the loyal Democrat soldiers running the labor unions.

Brian C Joondeph, MD, MPS, a Denver based retina surgeon and writer. Follow him on Facebook  and Twitter