Minimum Wage: The Concept

The concept of the minimum wage (mw) was originally conceived as a hedge against slavery and child labor. The argument follows.

Because there is law that labor must be compensated for in currency, people (non related  adults and children) cannot be forced to work in servitude. That was the thinking.

Concept Creep

is what happens when people close to power want more. However not always. Sometimes creep can happen with good intentions. Nevertheless, the road to hell is often paved with said intention. We are in such a situation now.

For Example

take this excellent analysis and argument by Kyla Scanlon.  She makes a good case, but it expands, or broadens the purpose of the law with long term, deep, deleterious consequences. The argument is intended to help individuals and society in general, but will have, and has had, the true effect of dumbing down the population, and expanding the wealth gap. Both of which Scanlon is against. In fact, she lists five reasons for raising the mw to $15 an hour. All of which are good and well-meaning.

I’m for all five outcomes!

Historical Context

is something I can offer first hand knowledge.

Scanlon tries for context. However, she only goes broad, not deep in her analysis. Kyla uses McDonalds restaurant for data points. Good. She compares prices from 1968 to current ones. Again, a good start.

In 1968

was working for mw ($1.65 an hr.). McDonalds had just come to our town. I was a high school senior. Scanlon calculates that $1.65 translates to about $11.75 today. Fair enough, that’s about an increase of 7xs. The hamburger, as I recall, cost .39 cents then. Today it’s cost is $4.95. That’s an increase of 12xs.

Twelve times is a pretty good representation of the inflation rate for that half a century. If the mw had kept pace (which Scanlon and others point out) it would be about $20 an hour. Moreover, that wage would gross the worker about $40,000 a year. That puts them well above the poverty line!

Greedy White Men

is the sub-text for all the reasons our social fabric is unravelling.

In other words, the patriarchy, racism, misogyny, etc. and so on, is the cause of most all the suffering. That’s the refrain we hear repeated over and over again. From the new (old) president Joe Biden and the liberal vice president Kamala Harris, to the progressive YouTube political  commentator Krystal Ball, to most academics, and everyone left of center on the spectrum. Is it true?

Senator Sanders says he's fighting for workers
The debate heats up
Krystal Ball is a popular, wealthy, progressive commentator.
Populists make their case
It's really not about you, or us, it's about them.
Joe and Bernie debate

The First Currency

was food. Without food, nothing else matters. That remains as true today as in 1968. (As since forever.) Much of the debate revolves around basic necessities, food being first. Without it, we die. The procuring of food is essential.

McDonalds restaurant is a good marker to talk about food.

How did we ever survive without “fast food”?

Human females can make food!
the most precious of things

Essential Work

is that which we can’t survive without. Therefore essential work falls within Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of human motivational needs. Besides that which food (the basic energy source) is first. Beyond that comes shelter and clothing, or warmth and protection. In other words, safety and security. Moving further, we have the need to belong and love.

After that, we might argue the needs are non-essential.

Therefore, any work that falls under the domains of Maslow’s first three categories are essential. I could list them, but so can you.

Start from nothing, or uninhabited land, say in the 1800’s in the American west. How would we build a society? I don’t think a fast food restaurant would come anywhere near to being essential.

The Living Wage

it seems to me, ought to be that which is needed to survive. Or, something gained because it adds value to the prospects of the society’s (tribe’s) survival. In other words, some work that is essential.

Such work cannot be done by a child.

What I did in 1968 barely qualified. I was a janitor’s apprentice. A janitor’s apprentice’s work does not qualify. It’s a luxury. With me doing the work, the janitor could loaf.

Much of the work now, argued for as deserving of a ‘living wage’, say $20 an hour, is hardly essential. In other words, it could be done by a child. Or, a person still dependent upon adults. Maybe a helper, but not anyone with skills.

The Problem

might be that – that we have drifted so far away from what is essential – that we’ve lost our way?

Kyla reports, as does Krystal, that 53% of workers earn less than a living wage. What is happening seems to be a better question than that of who is to blame?


workers’ pay is not the problem. For the most part it’s child’s work. Allowance worthy, maybe?

However, to own a McDonalds is another matter. The profit margin for the owner of the franchise is slim. And also, they are required to have a large amount of capital/currency to acquire a franchise. In addition, the upkeep, upgrades, and expenditures are great. The acquisition is risky for one’s existence. One needs all manner of skills to make a successful go of it.

It seems to me that doubling the mw for work that requires little skill is dumbing down, downgrading the population and society. Exactly the opposite of what the liberals, progressives, Kyla and Krystal are arguing for?

The Road To Hell


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