I do not mean to be overly political, although it is my major, but I wanted to comment on the minimum wage issue from the State of the Union.
1) On the comment that employers can not afford to pay a higher minimum wage:
A. This may be true to some extent for small businesses, to which I say, "that is the risk of running a business." However, most small businesses tend to treat and pay their employees far better than their larger counterparts, and so it is a manageable expense.
B. You simply can not argue that corporations, which make millions of dollars in one store, do not have the capital at hand to pay their employees a higher wage. An example: One Ohio Valley retailer of a national corporation (said name to be excluded) made $12 million after taxes in 2012; hundreds of thousands of dollars daily close to Christmas in 2013; and will come close to another $12 million after taxes for 2013 (as the year ends in January for this business). This is in one store, where a large percentage of employees, some of whom have been there for decades, make minimum or little more than minimum wage.
2) On the comment that it will raise prices of goods produced:
A. Again this is true for small businesses, as it would logically be necessary to balance the books and make a profit. Again in most cases we are not talking about a $20 increase (we probably are not talking about that in any case); it would be more like a few dollars at most. There have been economic studies done on this subject recently, which I encourage you to view. It is typical, however, that local, town, or region based stores have higher prices on their goods. This is because the goods are expected to be of better quality, regardless of the type of good produced (i.e. food, paper, technological products).
B. With the majority of consumers attending large corporate retail, restaurant, and product chains over small "mom and pop" ones, it would not create a lack of customer base. Considering that the vast majority of these products are no longer made in America, but rather overseas for dirt cheap costs (to the manufacturer) there is no excuse for those companies to increase cost to curb higher pay levels; as they are already making an extreme profit on the production of goods.
3) On the comment that raising the minimum wage will keep people stuck or dependent, without upward mobility:
A. Some individuals will inevitably not be able to climb the economic ladder, even with a pay increase. This is often due to a lack of ability, knowledge pertaining to a particular subject, or a lack of desire to work at the highest capacity possible.
B. The individuals above are the minority of people receiving the minimum wage, not the majority as some would have you think. Most of the people who make minimum wage work one or two full time jobs, a part time and full time job, or a part or full time job while extending their education. Allotting them more money allows them to purchase more of those goods (stated above) which may increase in price by a few dollars. It allows them to possibly work one full time job, instead of two; or a part time job, instead of a part and full time one. It opens the doors for another individual to work, who could not, because of the dual employment of the first individual. It allows many of those people going back to college, young and old, to better pay for their education and ensure better employment in the future.
4) On the comment that it "is just another tax increase.":
A. Yes, your taxes will more than likely increase as a result of your higher wage. This amount however, would not be as high as some like to argue it to be. It is not like the extra $3 will be going straight to the government; you will still see a decent income increase on your paycheck.
B. Taxes are like death, that is, they are unavoidable. Paying these somewhat higher taxes can increase the governmental revenue, at both the state and federal level. If appropriated properly, this increase in revenue can go to lowering the deficit; paying for better quality health services, especially for our service men and women; rebuilding our bridges and roads; better educating our youth; lowering the costs of college; providing tax breaks to companies that create jobs here in America, to name a few possibilities.
5) On the comment that free market capitalism should handle it, and that the government should stay out:
A. There used to be an almost completely government free capitalistic system here. The correct term portrayed the government as "Laissez Faire," which from the French means to "keep out, or let do." During this period, there was no minimum wage, no child labor laws, no standard work week, and little to no worker rights, to name a few.
B. The above argument, that free market should reign supreme, has been tried, and the above effect would most likely not be desired by any American, ever again.
6) On the comment that it does not matter, or can not be solved.
A. It is simple to solve really: raise the minimum wage to a level (as determined by economic experts) as "survivable." Tie the continual increase of the minimum wage to the cost of living, so that when it gets more expensive to buy food or pay the bills, people will have more money to spend.
B. Some individuals out there do not have the luxury of supportive parents, or moderately wealthy (upper middle class or higher) parents. We do not all come born with skills to make us the best at management, or the smartest person in the room. We all suffer hardships, like job loss or medical complications. A higher wage for all Americans allows us to better compensate for our lack of perfection, and possibly achieve something of greatness, provided we have the will to try. Yes this is an income issue, yes it is a economics issue, but it is also a morality issue. Are we willing to sit back and succeed while many millions of Americans, who may be as or more talented than we are, struggle to survive? I believe that we are all in this together, as the United States of America, isn't it about damn time we act like it?
Conor T. Craig