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As Long as We Remember...

January 9, 2014

The Dark Side of Increased Minimum Wage

Blaine R. Young

Here we go again. If we have learned anything during the seven year O’Malley Administration in Maryland, it is that if any other state comes up with some far left idea that we have not yet gotten here, our illustrious government in Annapolis will latch on to it as their own.


It seems it is impossible for anything to be too far to the left to be too liberal for Maryland.


The latest is the minimum wage. As you know, there is a federal minimum wage which now stands at $7.25 per hour. There is talk about raising the federal minimum wage to a reasonable level, as it has not been raised in a number of years. There is even talk (hold on to your hats!) that there may be some bipartisan support for a raise in the federal minimum wage. As long as it is reasonable, and implemented over time, I probably would have no problem with it.


But here in Maryland we are not content to wait and see what the federal government might do. It seems we are going to impose an even higher minimum wage on our employers in this state, to further erode our economy and tax base and drive more employers across the Potomac River into Virginia.


Other states have already done this. In fact, in some places it is done at the local or municipal level.


What really caught my eye recently was a story out of Washington State, where a local government raised the minimum wage on employers in that jurisdiction. They raised it very, very high, well over the numbers being proposed for a possible increase in the federal minimum wage.


My attention was drawn to the comment from one of the so-called “leaders” of that local government. She went in front of the cameras and said that she was certainly aware that the increase in the minimum wage might “cost a few jobs,” but that was immaterial to the overall social good that she was doing.


I know I heard this right, but I still can’t believe it. And what about the social harm being done to the current holders to those “few jobs?” They must not matter.


It is absolutely an economic fact that when you raise the price of something you sell less of it. That applies to labor. If you raise the price of employees, employers will hire fewer of them. That’s not theory, that is cold, hard, economic fact.


But in Maryland, we don’t care. One of the reasons is that the people who run this state from Annapolis, our seemingly clueless legislators – for the most part – have not owned businesses. I would like to know how many of the senators and delegates in Annapolis have signed the front of a paycheck, as opposed to just signing the backs of their government paychecks.


In this state, and throughout the United States, we take great pains to make sure that election districts are drawn and elections are held in such a manner as to ensure that we get a cross-section of the population elected to public office. That is good.


But when are we going to recognize that we are running business people out of office and, when we do that and we don’t have decent representation of the business community in our legislatures and state houses, that we have lost some valuable perspective?


I hope that everyone who loses his or her job because of the new increased minimum wage that is likely to be enacted this spring in Annapolis camps out on the front porch of every legislator who votes for it. Maybe our well-paid, well-heeled senators and delegates will toss them a few scraps of food. They obviously will not show them any compassion.


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