Protesters in Buffalo, N.Y. participate in a rally calling for a raise in… (Derek Gee / Associated Press…)
Re "The minimum-wage debate," Opinion, March 10
Andy Stern and Carl Camden effectively address the flawed arguments against raising the minimum wage given by Kevin A. Hassett and Michael R. Strain. Specifically, Stern and Camden cite recent studies indicating that raising the minimum wage has a "limited, almost negligible effect, on employment." In other words, it is not a job killer.
As for Hassett's and Strain's claim that expanding the earned income tax credit is a more effective tool in fighting poverty, Stern and Camden argue correctly that the tax credit amounts to a federal subsidy for low-wage employers and, in effect, contributes to a devaluation of work.
Indeed, what is most troubling about the perspective of those who oppose boosting the federal minimum wage is the implicit assumption that if lower-skilled employees' hard work is perceived as less valuable than other kinds of work, then it is somehow OK to pay these workers less-than-living wages.
Stern and Camden say, "Currently, an individual with a full-time job at the minimum wage and a family of three to support will fall below the federal poverty line." Well, that is true, but the solution is simple: Don't work for minimum wage and instead get an education, experience and do whatever is necessary to get a higher wage, and wait to acquire those three dependent family members until you can afford them.
Why are we trying to solve a problem that people should solve themselves?
William N. Hoke
I was struck by the point by Hassett and Strain in their argument against raising the minimum wage that "workers who earn the minimum wage are generally not the primary breadwinners in their households." This sounds eerily like the argument used in my early working days: that women did not need pay equity because they had husbands to support them.
No one is working at minimum wage because they want to. It is a shame that in the world's richest country, entry-level and relatively unskilled workers are not paid enough to meet a minimum standard of living and need to depend on government programs.
In today's economy, many of the available jobs are in the service industry, which places a big drain on society. It would be far better to pay a living wage to our workers and reduce dependency on government support.
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