[Sca-cooks] OOP/OT Politics of Minimum Wage (was RE:foodmanners/tipping )

Celia des Archier celiadesarchier at cox.net
Thu Nov 2 17:02:19 PST 2006

Niccolo said: 

<<My political viewpoint isn't really wehat I had in mind.  It is the
economic reality of operating a restaurant in a town that has 2500 or so
people. >>

Yet what you say doesn't sound like you've actually considered the math of
that economic reality clearly.  To whit, you say:
<<We employ 5 people, all at slightly above minimum wage when no other job
in town pays more than minimum. >>

All right, so you're already paying them $5.15/hr each, even though the law
says that you can pay them $2.13/hr.  Good for you.  But that already says
that your business is more successful than your posts imply, especially as
you live in GA which has *no* minimum wage protection beyond the federal
(and very little protection at all from a labor viewpoint, being a "right to
work" (i.e., right to fire without cause) state.

<< Our drivers and servers are handsomely tipped
not because the customers feel obligated, but because of the effective
personal relationships we have built with our neighbors/customers. >>

Hmmm... which means that your customers, even though they're in a small town
where no one in town makes more than minimum wage, have both enough
discretionary income and enough loyalty to your business to tip properly.
Again... that doesn't indicate to me that the world's going to go under if
you have to pay your employees a little more - especially if it also means
that your customers will also be making the same amount more.  Indeed, given
the numbers you've given me, an increase to $6.50/hr means that you'll have
to pay your employees a total of 1.35/hr each more... assuming 5 employees
at 40 hrs a week that means that your expenses will increase a total of
$270/wk.  It's difficult for me to believe that you have a viable business
now if your profit margin can't handle a $270/wk increase if everyone in
town is also going to be getting that $1.35/hr more.  

The economic reality, as you put it, is that the costs and benefits of the
minimum wage are debatable, as economists have been debating them since
before the first attempt at applying the minimum wage in the U.S. in 1933.
Research by several prominent economists including David Card and Alan
Krueger (Myth and Measurement: The New Economics of the Minimum Wage) and
two of the most persistent critics of the minimum wage (David Neumark and
William Wascher) in the U.S. as well as studies in the U.K. have shown
and/or collaborated the evaluation of the empirical data which concluded
that changes to the minimum wage do not have the impact expected.  Opposing
studies tend to come from the political camps or to focus primarily on
specific segments of the population affected rather than the population as a
whole or on the overall economic and living standard benefits.

<<That has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with real people
losing real jobs, and not having much other reasonable options. >>...

I'm sorry, but yes... it does have to do with politics, and from my
perspective whether a specific individual in a particular community can
continue to run a small business or is unable to adjust to a moderate profit
margin shift weighs less on my mind than the ongoing human rights issues of
employing people below the poverty line in a large segment of the country
does.  As heartless as it may seem to you, the 5 people in your community
weigh less on my mind than the far too many people across this country whose
employers aren't kind enough to pay them minimum wage when zie doesn't have
to, and who don't make generous tips as your employees do.  Those folks real
people, too... and they deserve to be paid a fair wage... a *living wage*
(which you, yourself, pointed out, is not the same as minimum wage.) 

As of 2004, 12% of the U.S. population lived below the poverty line.  As of
this month the US has a population topping 300,000,000.  Assuming that the
number of people below the poverty line has not decreased (unlikely given
historical trends and today's climate), that means that 36,000,000 people
living *below* what it takes to buy a loaf of bread.  Even factoring in the
unemployment rate, that's far too many people working for sub standard
wages... especially in one of the "richest nations in the world."  

So, yes.  It is a political issue, and it's not just an economic issue, it's
a human rights issue as well. 


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