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If Business Can't Pay A Fair Wage, Then It Should Fail

Category: Labor
Posted: 05/20/15 11:22

by Dave Mindeman

While perusing through headlines this morning, I came across the possibility that Los Angeles has put forward a $15 minimum wage.

Immediately the conservative bells and whistles went off and the ever popular argument of lost jobs for the people who need it most went out far and wide.

Well I'm getting tired of this rhetoric.

Yes, some jobs will probably be cut because of the higher wage, but let me say this. Maybe it is time we get rid of a business model that depends on substandard wages to survive. Let that business model die. Let it end.

If a worker has to live in poverty and get welfare benefits to survive, while he or she is working full time....how to we intellectually justify that?

Conservatives talk about a "culture of dependency" in welfare. Well, it is hard to break that culture when working (full time, meaningful work) gives you no chance of moving out of that culture.

And maybe it is time that business stop trying to suppress wage increases as the means to please their shareholders. It is almost embarrassing to see the gap between the pay of CEO's and their average employee expand beyond reasonable means. How can a country that promotes "upward mobility" provide so many road blocks for that path?

Business is always saying that the market should provide the "minimum wage"....that a government mandate only hurts job creation. Well, in one sense, I agree - we shouldn't need a minimum wage. Anybody who is paid the current minimum wage is not making a living. They are subsisting and often would be better off not working at all - especially if they have kids.

Poverty wages (which the minimum wage is) should not exist in a country that supposedly "values" work. That wants its citizens to work to pay for their own way.

But if any of that is to happen, the business community needs to examine the reality of how they truly value their employees. If the $15 movement is necessary to move minimum wage workers out of poverty, then it needs our support. Businesses should be forward thinking enough to make that push unnecessary.

Americans see the exploitation of workers beyond our borders. We have allowed business to use that exploitation to expand profits. But if we need to take a stand against that exploitation somewhere, then let us at least start here at home.

Yes, some jobs will be lost. Business has no loyalties - they don't have a moral code. Business is just business. But American citizens should stand against exploitation of workers. We are better than corporate standards. We have to think of our own country's bottom line as well. There is no reason the American taxpayer should subsidize low wages. None.

If business cannot pay a fair wage, then that business should fail. It is as simple as that.

Nobody is going to get rich on $15 an hour - but it might buy some dignity. I think that is only fair.
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