So nobody actually earns the minimum wage. They receive it but it is not earned. The minimum wage is for people that do jobs where the value of their work to society is so low that pretty much anybody could do the work. As a consequence, a fair employer would rather pay the person the fair market value of their efforts which would be less than the minimum wage. But instead of fairness, the employer is forced by the government to pay the employee more than the value of their work.
Hard work has next to zero value by itself. To be valuable, it must be directed toward some purpose that results in a product or service that you value or that others value and for which they will pay. If you create a value, and agree to accept an amount equal to another person’s valuation of it, then you have earned the money. Their valuation may or may not make sense to you but your hours of hard work rarely play a factor in that valuation. This works even if you were alone and trying to live isolated from society.
If I drop two people on two nearby deserted islands and the first works 8 hours a day for three days and secures fresh water, builds a shelter, fishes, makes a fire etc. the second decides his worst threat is the possibility of a typhoon and works three days at ten hours a day digging a hole to protect himself. Before he dies of dehydration. Whose labor earned more? The one that earned life or the one that earned death?
If you earn $6 an hour then that is largely because that is the value of your production to your employer and you have agreed to accept it. If the King who rules your land decrees that from henceforth, the least anyone will be paid in his land is $10 an hour then your employer is forced to make a choice. She can let you go or raise your pay to the minimum wage. But, if she raises your wages to $10 an hour, she is not doing so because your value to her has increased. She is doing so because if she does not then all the king’s horses and men will come with weapons and close her business down. She is being forced to do so.
We have a name for the act of forcing somebody to pay money that they otherwise do not and should not owe. It is called extortion. It is still extortion if there is no king and you are governed by a legislature. In fact, that makes it even more immoral for you. Because you did not vote for the king but you are responsible for the legislature and its laws. Whereas before, the king was acting in his own name, the legislature is acting in yours. So you are the extortionist.
Extortion – noun
the practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threats.
Ok. So if pay is “earned” when the value of production equals or exceeds the amount paid, then clearly somebody, somewhere, earns the minimum wage. So “nobody” is an exaggeration. The irony is that Those who earn the minimum wage are one of the true victims of the minimum wage extortion racket. Because they get to earn their wage while those around them receive it as a “right”. To anyone lacking self motivation, this system quickly becomes an incentive to not worry about providing value.
In one of the few occasions in which the Left admits that government regulation incentivizes “bad” behavior (but evidently only for the rich, never the poor or working class), they propose that businesses pay less than a “living wage” because they know that their lowest paid employees receive government assistance. Historically of course, we have a name for people who are incapable of producing or unwilling to produce enough to meet their needs to stay alive: DEAD. In my example above, the idiot worked hard toward an inappropriate end and died. If he had done nothing, he also would have died. You have a natural right to life. That means others may not deprive you of your life. It does not require them to act to keep you alive.
Based on this view by the Left that the welfare state corrupts only one party in the semi-free market, they make some version of the following argument:
- Many minimum wage employees receive government assistance from public welfare programs.
- The only reason they need this is because they cannot live on the minimum wage paid by their employer.
- We should make their employer pay them more so that they will not need the public assistance for which we are paying.
What this argument boils down to is:
- They currently receive money from our taxes that they are not earning.
- They need that extra money to live.
- And of course that is not their fault but their employers’.
- We should extort additional unearned money from their employer so that it does not have to be extorted from taxpayers.
Of course they are not honest enough to call it extortion. And they try to camouflage their argument by implying or stating that the employers are exploiting their employees by not paying them enough. So they intend to replace one form of theft (the taxation supporting the welfare state) with another (extortion of additional wages from business). It is made worse by the fact that leftists try to cloak their program in morality by appealing to guilt and/or compassion. But extortion is always immoral. And if it makes you feel better to extort then you are an immoral person. An appeal to guilt or compassion merely adds a sham veneer to this immoral system.
So why not just end all extortion? And rely on the free market and the resulting self interest of people and the benevolence of charitable people take care of the problem? The result would increase liberty, responsibility and accountability and eliminate the use of force.
Of course, you might not believe it is really extortion. So start a business, refuse to pay minimum wage unless it is earned no matter who tells you to, and let’s sit back and watch the results. Just do not call me from jail. Or drop your soap.