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Stopping Upward Mobility in CA: Minimum Wage Raised to $10 Per Hour

by Rob Morse
Clash Daily Guest Contributor

If I wanted to raise black unemployment, then I would raise the minimum wage. That would keep the next generation of young black men dependent on welfare. I know it is hard to believe, but there wasn’t always an unemployment problem in the US, not even for minorities in the inner city. That was back in another time. That was before we had poverty professionals. Now the California legislature is going to increase the minimum wage to 10 dollars per hour in a few years. The poor will pay dearly.

Part time work is already the new normal thanks to Obama care. There was a time in the United States when, as a percentage, more black people were working than white people. Let that sink in for a minute. In spite of racism, poverty and lower education levels, minorities found people who were eager to hire them. This was particularly true of black men, and employers would bid them away from low paying jobs. It sounds like paradise now, so what changed since then? How is it that back in unenlightened America almost everyone could find a job, while modern progressive America has fifty percent unemployment for young black men in our inner cities?

Government fixed the non-problem. That is what happened!

You could always find a job back then. Think about it for a second before you laugh. Even today, there are many things you want done. There are always things on your “TO DO” list that you put off until you have time. Today these things are too tedious or time-consuming to have other people perform. That wasn’t always true. Back before the minimum wage there was the handy man and the domestic helper. There was always work available at some price even in a bad economy.

That isn’t true today. Some jobs will simply go away due to higher labor costs. With more regulation and a higher minimum wage, more work will be outsourced and paid for by the piece rather than by the hour. That isn’t really progress, though the politicians will take credit for it. The politicians will point to the few employees who got a raise and we will ignore the former employee who was pushed onto unemployment.

Employers also face a difficult choice as labor costs jump. They can hire an experienced worker who is able to work full time if they need him, or the employer could hire a part time student, a retiree, or a part time stay-at-home mom who comes in when she has a few hours each week. Before, they could pay the student and the busy mom a few dollars less. Now they have to pay the higher minimum wage and the employer chooses the most qualified employee they might need. Employers will have their pick of labor with the increased unemployment that is sure to follow the minimum wage increase. Tough luck for the kid who wants a job after school.

Buying people sounds crass, but I am for sale every day. I sell my efforts to a company that wants to buy my attention at a price we agree upon. It is a simple arrangement, but not an easy one. If you’ve been in the job market recently you know there is intense competition for jobs. The only thing that makes a company offer me any money at all is that the next company will offer me a job if they pay less. That is called competition for labor. Yes, competition cuts both ways. The government has done a lot of things that hurt the employee side of the job market. We’ve let anyone enter the country even though we have high unemployment. I guess that is good for employers, but it sucks for citizens.

We’ve also heaped new taxes and regulations on employers. The results are predictable. Just as you buy less at the store when your taxes go up, so a company hires fewer employees when the state increases the cost of each employee. Employers also move their offices and factories to cheaper locations. The Sacramento politicians will blame someone else for the jobs that leave California, and the unemployed workers who leave California won’t be around to vote in the next election.

The new regulations won’t affect the salary of CEOs very much. The increased minimum wage hits the hourly employees at the bottom of the job ladder. It hits the young, the handicapped, the unskilled and the poor the hardest. It hurt the busboys, the dishwashers, the gardeners and the ticket takers. It hurts the sign twirlers and newspaper sellers. It hurts the sweepers and the guys at the car wash. It will hurt the minorities in our inner cities more than the rich kids in our affluent suburbs. More work will move into the black market. Count on it.

So why did the legislature pass the higher minimum wage if it hurts the poorest workers? I’m glad you asked. Unions are being squeezed by non-union labor. This is particularly true in the grocery industry, but is evident in the agriculture and hospitality industries, too. The higher minimum wage makes it easier for the union to compete with non-union labor. Union money talks to politicians. The poor young black man in the inner city already votes for the Democrat party and is an acceptable casualty of California politics. The politician will never be blamed for higher unemployment in any case.

The politicians promised everyone a pay raise. The politicians ignored that you and I will pay more to the guy who looses his job and has to go on unemployment and welfare benefits. The taxpayers will pay a little. The poor will pay a lot. The politicians, unions, and welfare bureaucrats are the ones who really benefit. Unemployment will rise and the Sacramento politicians will claim the poor need more government help.

The state can’t get me a better job by regulating me and my employer. My only guarantee of a job is the next man who will hire me. We need more employers if we want more and better jobs for the poor. Don’t expect that help to come from Sacramento politicians.

morseImage: Rob Morse is slightly intelligent with a serious sense of humor. He has been driven crazy as a design engineer is several bleeding-edge high-tech companies. He remains faithful and committed to marriage with his wife of 29 years. His two children have successfully escaped into the wild. He writes about technology and society from his home in southern California.