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City seeks minimum wage comments
Original post made
on Aug 28, 2014
The Mountain View City Council has opened an online forum asking residents for input on the city proposal that would raise the minimum wage in Mountain View.
Read the full story here Web Link
posted Thursday, August 28, 2014, 12:52 PM
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Posted by Min Wage Supporter
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 31, 2014 at 12:42 am
Econ fan, Thank you for having the guts to answer the question I posed: "Currently, the law reads that an employer cannot set an hourly wage of $0.00/hour to their employees. Would you like to see this law eliminated? "
Let me respond individually to the points you made. I'm going to slice and dice your quotes for clarity, but will try to leave the meaning intact.
Point: People are Apples!
"Yes but it makes no difference. We don't let govt set prices for apples. "
"So it seems like you would support minimum prices for all goods, like apples? I wouldnt."
"Competitive markets (whether for products Or labor) are constrained by both sides of the market. Buyers would like to buy at the lowest price and sellers would like to sell at the highest price."
So, a person is an apple, huh? A person can be traded back and forth just like a piece of fruit? Well, historically, there is small (hopefully shrinking) subset of this society that would like to return to the dark days of our country and do so, but we have this silly thing called the US Constitution, which specifically says that people are not fruits (or at least not property). Here are some other key differences:
1. An apple does not select it's consumer (employer).
2. An apple does not have dependents (families).
3. An apple does not have an emotional life.
Most apples are traded on large agricultural markets. Like most farm products, the individual farms combine their products and it goes into a distribution network. Very, very efficient. It probably doesn't even cost a penny to "relocate" an individual apple from Washington State to New York City. Relocating a *person* across the country will cost hundreds to thousands of dollars.
So, what does this mean? How does it apply to this conversation about minimum wage? You wrote, "Competitive markets (whether for products Or labor) are constrained by both sides of the market." It is more accurate to say that only applies to competitive markets that are also EFFICIENT. A large commercial agricultural apple marketplace is both competitive and efficient--agreed. But the differences between a piece of fruit and a living, feeling human being are so vast, that employment is hardly neither efficient, nor competitive. (Some would argue that it IS competitive, but I would suggest that their opinion is tainted with the silicon valley experience. While recognized top talent can command "competitive" prices, most of the rest cannot. In fact, that is a key reason why so many tech workers are being imported. If the market was efficient and competitive, then it wouldn't be so difficult to fill those slots, but I digress--we are discussing the minimum wage issue...)
Your Point: People will never accept a starvation level wage--certainly not zero dollars/hour! And, even if they do, so what?
What you said:
"If buyers coulld set the price at zero, who would supply goods or labor at a zero price." and ""So even if some employers set wages to zero, who would be willing to work for zero wages. Volunteers or interns? Even so they would voluntarily chose to work for free. Most people wouldn't.""
On the surface, this makes perfect sense! Who would take a job where they weren't paid? Well, how about someone who needed health benefits? There are some retired folks who have enough to feed, clothe and house themselves, but have had to take a menial job simply to keep benefits going. But, let's go back a bit in history. Companies would offer their employees a place to stay (a bunkhouse or a small shack) next to the company. They would get promised a pay, but then would get expenses deducted. In some cases, the "employee" would end up with a mounting debt to their employer! So, they were lucky to get a 0.00/hour job--instead, it was more like -$4.00/hour job!
"Labor markets for low skilled labor are competitive and exchange is voluntary. Why would you be upset at some people choosing to work for free or at the best wage they can accept? Would you ban volunteer work, interns or even council work since they claim to work 160 hours per month for $500."
The minimum wage generally does not apply to true volunteer work. Why should we care? Because the lower the wage in a menial job, the more hours they will have to work to make ends meet. They will not have time to care for themselves, their families and will have an extremely difficult time to seek education and job skills to lift themselves out.
Thanks again for responding. Having a discourse on this subject is very important to our country (and city!).
By the way, even if Mtn View were to raise the minimum wage to $10/hour, that is still less than it was when the law was enacted 40 years ago! It really should be indexed with inflation, but it was not. So, this is not raising the minimum wage, but merely an attempt to catch up somewhere near it's original level.