California Democratic congresswoman Barbara Lee has said she wants a $26 minimum wage in her state.
And we libertarians are dismissed as lunatics wanting to create a utopia.
Every time I hear someone make statements like this, I keep thinking of that classic line from Austin Powers 2.
According to Brendan Bordelon at the Libertarian Republic, if this minimum wage was instituted in California, employees working 40 hours per week and taking no vacations would earn over $54,000 each year.
There are things we want in life, but they just aren’t going to happen. Getting paid $26 to stock the dairy section of the grocery store like I did for three years at my local QFC is one of them.
Let me just throw this out there, while leaving aside the biggest question of how a business would pay for this without having to raise prices. If someone can earn $54,000 a year just flipping burgers without having to graduate from high school, what incentive is there to invest in higher education if it involves getting into debt?
This is in fact a huge problem already. College graduates are entering the workforce making as much or little more than those who graduate only from high school. There are certain jobs that require a college degree and yet pay the same if not less than a cashier working in a grocery store, a job that does not require a college degree.
Doug Casey has also addressed the significance of the misguided attitude advocates for the minimum wage have, which holds that people should be guaranteed a certain standard of living no matter what job they work.
Once a country buys into the idea that an above-average, privileged lifestyle is everyone’s minimum due, when the fortunate few can lobby for special deals to rake something off the table as they squeeze wealth out of others by force, that country is on the decline.
Just for the record, I speak as someone who has made very little money since coming out of college – in fact, my first job out of college paid less than the job I worked before college. It would certainly be nice to make $54,000 a year working at a job that pays half of that currently, but I am not delusional enough to think I would still have a job if this occurred.
Ultimately, I get to decide how much I am paid by the skills I choose to learn and my ability to negotiate with my employer or potential employers. If I am paid little, it is because I have chosen a career that pays little. If I felt inclined towards it, I could certainly take the steps necessary to work a well-paying job. But because of my own life choices that is not the case, and I do not hold anyone but myself responsible for this. Working as a reporter, I knew the field paid little and chose it anyways because it offered things that I value more than money, such as autonomy and independence.
People who make minimum wage and want to earn more have the ability to change that by learning new skills and gaining applicable experience. Having the government artificially raise the value of your labor will only result in raised prices and higher unemployment.