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We've been having a lot of discussion here about minimum wages, living wages, and corporate responsibilities ... which led one MNB user to write:

Minimum Wage is and always has been a form of Income Redistribution.  It is harmful to the economy and our country in so many ways.

It destroys “business models” that all successful companies must work hard and sustain in order to be successful. As soon as business is forced to raise their prices in order to pay for the latest increase in labor costs, their revenue declines due to economic principles of supply & demand and price elasticity.  Intelligent business owners know this and usually lay workers off when pay rates rise…or cut hours…leading to even higher unemployment and less pay.

Entry level positions are just that…entry level, which really should be for High School age and Seniors, primarily.  Both groups in theory, should not require “Living Wages”… High School age workers should still be supported by their family and Seniors have been working all their lives and have something to fall back on.

Seniors will be working these jobs as “supplemental” income, not primary income, which many of them do.

How many of the young people today have not planned their lives very well? Have they started a family before they have earned a “Living Wage” for themselves?

Entry level (low paying jobs) are what this country needs to put the young to work on a part time basis.  One look at the unemployment rates for young Americans (especially Black youth) screams for these jobs…it teaches responsibility and provides a foundation for basic skills needed for higher wages later in life.  Establishing a Minimum Wage at $14 or $15 per hour will insure that even more youth will never have a chance to work an entry level job.

I realize there are exceptions and extenuating circumstances in many lives, but the trend as I see it, is the continued breakdown of the family and results of such to depend on the private sector (filtered by excessive taxation and regulation through a bloated and inefficient government) to bail everyone out…which, in my view the minimum wage as another regulation is trying to accomplish.

A living wage is an earned wage, by working your way up through the system and learning skills that businesses need and will pay more for… once those skills are learned the individual is marketable and will truly be valuable enough to “earn the living wage”.

Really? The minimum wage is responsible for the continued breakdown of the family?

I'm pretty sure I wouldn't go that far.

I'm pretty sure that there are some seniors out there who, in fact, don't have something to fall back on and need more than supplemental income. And young people who, in fact, are vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous companies if there were not a minimum wage protecting them. And I'm pretty sure that there are intelligent business owners out there who worry less about cutting hours and maintaining efficiencies and focus more on creating a nurturing, empowering environment that encourages effectiveness. (For these businesses, the minimum wage isn't much of an issue.) And, I'm pretty sure there are some companies out there were there is a far greater focus on how much money senior executives can make than there is on how to fairly reward people on the front lines.

We can have a reasonable and reasoned discussion about the role of a minimum wage and a living wage. Or, we can just say it is the root of all evil and ignore what strikes me as a pretty obvious problem of income disparity.

MNB user Jim DeLuca chimed in:

While it is admirable that Whole Foods limits pay to a range of 19 to 1; the founders/executives who have done a great job building the company also are quite well off from their shares;  John Mackay is listed as owning about 1.1 million shares worth more that $50 million dollars.  Say he earns 5% return, that would be $2.5 million per year in investment income taxed at the lower capital gains tax rate.  So if the starting line cashier earns $12 per hour at 40 hours per week she earns about $24,000.  Pay at 19x would be about $456,000 a year.  Combining that with the stock income makes the pay differential about 125 to 1.  Mondragon, the Basque area of Spain is a cooperative society which limits the range of pay to no more than 9 to 1.   Unemployment in the Basque region is about 8.8% while nationwide Spain outside of the Basque area is about 21%. Now that is Cooperative Capitalism!

I think there is a big difference between salary and stock that is awarded to executives. Salary you get just for showing up. Stock awards are based on achievement.

That said, I do think that companies ought to be a lot more focused on rewarding employees up and down the organization with stock ... it works best when everybody has a piece of the action.

At least, in my opinion.
KC's View: