One of the favorite drumbeats of Democrats and others from the Left is constant increases in the minimum wage. It is the centerpiece of congressional campaigns like next month's mid-term election, as well as presidential contests. It is the Democrat Party's way of standing firmly behind the working poor while standing on top of them. They use phraseology like "Let's give Americans a raise." And "Providing a living wage." But with all the rhetoric surrounding the Democrat's use of the minimum wage as a political tool, it really does nothing to lift those at the bottom up, only free markets can accomplish that task.
The minimum wage in the United States began about a hundred years ago, before there was the slew of labor laws we have today. In those days, as the country was maturing its manufacturing base, women and children were employed to perform many jobs on the factory floor. The minimum wage was instituted and applied only to females and children so as to place a premium on their labor in order to discourage it.
The originators of the minimum wage, first in Massachusetts and then spreading to the rest of the country, knew that when higher wages were required for women and children and not men, companies would hire fewer of the former and more of the latter. It is simple economics about which the early 20th century supporters of the minimum wage were intellectually honest, but today's Democrats and others on the Left are not.
Today's Democrats preach the false sermon of the minimum wage helping those at the bottom end of the labor force, in contradiction to the economic science on the minimum wage that has been settled for the last hundred years. The director of the Congressional Budget Office, Douglas Elmendorf, recently stated that it is accepted economic fact among economists that raises in the minimum wage lead to job loss. Not to mention an increase in prices of goods and services that is the constant companion to higher labor costs.
Most of those working for minimum wage are teenagers, housewives with a primary bread winner husband, and persons working a second job, There are very few in the "head of household trying to support a family" category into which Democrats lump all minimum wage earners. And most of those who begin working for minimum wage receive raises in their pay within six months if they stay at the same job.
The loss of low wage jobs that accompanies every raise in the minimum wage is an economic fact that is not missed by Democrats. They thrive on the government dependence that is created by such policies. They additionally help their union buddies, since many union contracts base union pay on it being a certain amount over the minimum wage. So raises in the minimum wage means automatic increases in union wages. It is what is called a Win-Win for Democrats and a devastating loss for those they claim to want to help.