Minimum Wage

George F. Will drops some knowledge:

Most of the working poor earn more than the minimum wage, and most of the 0.6 percent (479,000 in 2005) of America’s wage workers earning the minimum wage are not poor. Only one in five workers earning the federal minimum lives in families with earnings below the poverty line. Sixty percent work part time, and their average household income is well over $40,000. (The average and median household incomes are $63,344 and $46,326, respectively.)

If you are going to understand this, you have to understand who makes minimum wage. If you are going to start medding with the market — if you are going to start thumb-wrestling with Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand — you have to understand what is going on in the first place.

Poor people don’t make minimum wage. They are better off on welfare. Also, they tend to be older, and older people get more than minumum wage if they have spent any time working as an adult. The people who make minimum wage are people who don’t qualify for welfare and have no work history. That means high school kids. Where are the places that pay minumum wage? Places high school kids work. Fast food joints and Grocery stores.

So high school kids might get more money. (The job might go away too.) In any event, the cost for places that employ people at minumum wage are going to go up. Those costs will be passed on to people who buy from these places. That means prices will go up at fast food joints and grocery stores.

This means that the people who will be hit the hardest by a raise in the minimum wage are poor people. These are people who already spend a larger percentage of thier income on food than anyone else. If you make $350 a week, and your grocery bill goes up $7, that’s a big deal. You don’t make $350 a week on minimum wage, but you will sure as hell feel the effects. (That’s $18,200 a year. More than minumum wage, under the poverty line for a family of four.) Poorer people can’t afford to go to Olive Garden or Applebees for a meal when they are out of the house. They have to go to McDonalds or Taco Bell. And if the minimum wage goes up, poor people will be handing more money that they can’t afford over to a high school kid so he can go blow it on weed and wheels that keep spinning.

All of this is really just so Nancy Pelosi can feel a like she’s in charge now. And when poorer people are worse off four years from now, she’ll blame Republican obstructionism.

(In Mexi Money, $7 is a pitcher and a half of beer. That’s a lot of money.)


  1. R says:

    Poor people shouldn’t 1) be eating fast food, which is overpriced garbage to begin with and 2) be having a family which would induce higher grocery bills.

    If you can’t afford it, but you do it anyway, you deserve the shaft you get.

  2. Mexigogue says:

    The existence of a minimum wage implies justification for a maximum wage. An ideal world should have neither.

  3. Phelps says:

    That’s easy to say, R. It is just as easy to say “Poor people should make more money and stop being poor.” People have to eat. It’s a nasty habit, but the withdrawl symptoms are deadly. They can either eat fast food, or they can eat groceries. If it is a small family, fast food makes the most sense. Really. You can’t beat a double-cheeseburger and fries for $2 calorie and nutrition-wise from the grocery store, once you figure in cooking, spoilage, etc from making it yourself. (Don’t spend $4 on the value meal when you can have a $.20 Dr. Bold at home.) If you have a big family, then you can buy in quantity and save more than that, but you are buying in quantity then.

  4. R says:

    I completely disagree dude. Eating fast-food on a daily basis is only going to bring your own personal costs up via health problems.

    People who opt for the easy $2 hamburger are just plain-ass lazy. You can spread $50/week for one person buying groceries at Wal-Mart easy. Easy. I know, because I’ve done it.

  5. Phelps says:

    First, $7 (three meals from the dollar menu) is still a buck cheaper without figuring in kitchen costs. And even your frugality costs a family of 4 $200 a week.

  6. Erin says:

    I understand where you are coming from when you say that because minimum wage goes up, people will be spending more. Thats completly understandable, but their are choices people can make to save money, even poor people. They can wait to get home to eat and not go out to eat. Also, saying that all high school kids that hold minimum wage jobs are just going to blow it all on weed is offensive. The whole time I held in high school, I never spent any of the money on drugs, nor did kids I worked with or my friends that held jobs. Many of us were saving up so we could afford to go to college. Think about what you are saying and who you saying it to before you make some comment about how the youth of America is corrupt.

  7. Phelps says:

    Erin, please clean the sand out of your vagina. Not every example is about you.

  8. DA says:

    “If you are going to start medding with the market — if you are going to start thumb-wrestling with Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand — you have to understand what is going on in the first place.”

    If only that were true.