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The minimum wage dilemma

When I first started working for a living, the minimum wage (at least here in California) was $2.25 an hour. Doesn't sound like much, does it?

But at that time, gas could be had for seventeen cents a gallon. The house that is now selling for three hundred grand sold for twenty five thousand.

Right now, the minimum wage in California is eight dollars. That's more or less a fourfold increase. But the prices of everything have increased tenfold or more in the same time period. So it's pretty obvious that the minimum wage has not kept pace with the cost of living.

It's pretty hard for an employer, at least one with a conscience, to look a guy in the eye and offer him a wage that he knows full well he can't make it on. From that perspective, the idea of increasing the minimum wage seems fair and right. But employers are choking on the idea because they are already feeling the pinch. Many are saying that if the minimum wage is increased, they will have to compensate by cutting hours. So the employee is not going to see any increase in wages regardless.

Humorous interlude: There's a joke about a guy who gets sent to prison. Every day, at meal time, guys stand up and shout out numbers and after every number, everyone in the dining hall laughs. When the ‘new guy’ inquires, he is told that they have all been there so long that they’ve heard everyone else's jokes. So they just assigned numbers to the jokes to get through them easier. The next day, the new guy stands up and hollers out a number. No one laughs. He tries again. Still no laughter. Then the guy sitting next to him says, "Some guys can tell them, some guys can't.”

Maybe that's what we need to do with all of the economic dilemmas we face these days. We just give them all numbers. Then I could just say "Number thirty eight" and you could all groan and say, "Man, not thirty eight again! We just talked about thirty eight."


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