That Elusive Wage Reality

Dave 07Rachel Notley’s NDP continues to insist that they are proud of their minimum wage plan. And for good reason; after all it proves they are forging ahead with implementing Socialist/Progressive (SoProg) ideology. And for SoProgs, ideology trumps all else, including reality.

Because the reality is that minimum wages fail the very segment of society they purportedly help.

First of all, some employers are forced to lay off staff, or delay or abandon expansion of their business which would include additional staff. That hits the poor the hardest and removes tax dollars from the economy.

Minimum wages create a barrier-to-entry for kids looking for their first job, and for immigrants whose Canadian language skills are limited or nonexistent.

A negotiated wage for most 15-year-olds living at home isn’t a hardship, but an opportunity to learn workplace skills such as showing up for work on time (regardless of how you spent the previous evening); organizational skills, customer relations, and teamwork. And for immigrants with no local language skills and where the employer has to provide both training and translation, a negotiated wage is an opening to success in their new home.

We have a 13-year-old grandson who will turn 15 in 2018 when the $15 an hour minimum wage comes into effect. Let’s say he wants to work a few hours on weekends and sees a business that interests him. He might be willing to work for nothing, or for 6 or 8 or $10 an hour in order to get work experience, and to see if he likes the business.

I’d say that’s his (and his parent’s) business, but the SoProgs have told him; “If you can’t find someone willing to train you and pay you $15 an hour, you can’t work in Alberta. Period.”

20151207_091424So now we have these new “trainees” at our local McDonald’s.

If society wishes to provide a safety net for genuinely needy families or individuals – and in general I would agree with that – then society should provide it,not place the financial burden on individual business owners forced to finance ideologically driven, “one-size-fits-all” solutions.

Last year I wrote about the minimum wage and was taken to task by some employers who said that they have no problem paying the minimum wage, or more. One fellow who owned a software development company said he was proud to pay above minimum wage.

Well, so is my wife who owns a home cleaning business. She pays well above to over double the minimum wage. That’s a wage differential. A 50% minimum wage increase over four years will force her to maintain that differential and increase wages more quickly than financial prudence would dictate. and it will force her to increase prices far faster than the rate of inflation. It will also force her to slow expansion which means fewer additional staff, and less income tax for the government. Or, it may put her out of business.

Last summer, I asked my granddaughter – then age 20 – what she thought of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Her immediate response? “That will just make the cost of everything go up.” Unfortunately, that’s reality. But reality won’t have the slightest effect on the world’s SoProgs, because their ideology says otherwise.

You might want to send this to  your children or grandchildren and see if you get a conversation started. It works for us!

2 replies on “That Elusive Wage Reality”

First of all, Dave, Karl Marx created the word “socialism” to describe one of the stages of communism. There is no mainstream party in Canada that advocates communism and for good reason. The word socialism, like many others (terrorist, red neck, libertarian etc.), has become so subjective that it is become almost meaningless and its value is more about emotion and ramped up rhetoric. This is not your fault. But it does interfere with real communication about real ideas, I think.

You mention supporting a safety net. “Handouts” do not support dignity. I think there is something very wrong when a working person has to use a food bank.

Let me see…a fifteen-dollar an hour wage for forty hours a week over a year. That works out to $31,200 a year. But let us face facts. How many minimum wage positions get forty hours a week??

I doubt that thirty thousand dollars a year requires an income tax reduction, at least I hope not. Even so thirty thousand dollars a year is not much when one looks at the costs of living.

Canadians are some of the richest people in the world. We have much more wealth than people who live in the third and what is left of the second world. From a global perspective we do incredibly well. Now with globalization jobs are leaving and our standard of living is now falling and I think will continue to fall.

Still we have a lot. What is it that motivates people to deny our fellow humans a reasonable wage? We want people to stock our market shelves so we can have easy access to groceries but we want these people to be poor. We want to be served in restaurants but we want our servers to be poor. We want people in shops to provide us with service and a smile but we want them to be poor. I could go on…and on. Incidentally, the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour came out with a statement that 44% of minimum wage earners in Saskatchewan are over the age of 24!!! And student debt is crippling.

Can we afford to pay more? Of course. I see the homes around Calgary and other Alberta and Canadian cities and I see, from a global perspective, extreme wealth. People drive vehicles much larger and more expensive than they need. I see big, beautiful new sport arenas in Edmonton and Regina costing hundreds of millions of dollars. I see my fellow Canadians supporting athletes who make millions and sometimes tens of millions of dollars for playing games!!!!!! And they do not bat an eye! It does not even occur to many of them that these salaries are ridiculous but they have a fit if someone suggests raising their taxes to pay for education, health, infrastructure etc. I could go on with these examples of extremism. You and I both see them every day. Oh I think we have some wiggle room. I think we can pay a bit more for services that we want and sometimes need and allow workers some reward and dignity.

You may have seen my Facebook post about enjoying Michael Moore’s latest documentary called Where to Invade Next. There are amazing things happening in other jurisdictions regarding public policy. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the show for me was the attitudes of the people in general and business leaders in particular about sharing wealth and the benefits of treating all citizens with respect and dignity. (I would be interested in your reaction to the film.)

Poverty creates disparity in education, health and standards of living. We pay for the problems resulting from these disparities through higher costs for poor health, crime, underachievement etc. Why not give people a chance at a better life with a wage that is a little more realistic?

Thanks for the response Randal. I really want to respond to each point you make, some of which I agree with.

I’m swamped this week with getting ready to do some video blogs, so I’ll try to get to it next week.

Would it be ok to respond in the form of a blog? I’ll leave your name out of it. Others have the same views as you and I can get back to more people at once that way.



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