Happy Labor Day! Let’s talk about the minimum wage.

bill maher min wage
   Bill Maher is talking about a genuine problem.   This is a sensitive area for the Hospitality industry, and I am disappointed to see that it is often approached callously by some chains – and also to see national retailer or hospitality organizations tap dancing around the issue.  
 
     But the statement is accurate.  It’s not fair to me that my tax dollars are subsidizing low wages at some fast food outlets.  It also provides no incentive for workers to stay on, to work hard, to go that extra mile.   I don’t begrudge any pizza billionaire his 40,000 square foot home.  He may well have earned it.  But his paying workers a wage that they cannot live on, and cannot afford health insurance on, is not in my best interests.  I’m a taxpayer too.  And when his workers clog up the emergency room and suck up unreimbursed health services, the rest of us have to pay more.  Not fair!  
 
I’ve been a capitalist and entrepreneur ever since I can remember –  started trading stocks at age 10, got my first subscription to the WSJ at age eleven.  And, I’m a long time fan of Ayn Rand – I’ve read all of her books and a number of biographies about her as well.  She always spoke about the need to act in one’s own self-interest. 
 
   As a capitalist, I say that it is in my own self-interest (and yours too) for adults in fast food to earn a wage that they can live on!  
 
It is in society’s self-interest to have people at the bottom rung of the work ladder, be able to provide for their families, and work their way up.  That’s the American dream I was brought up with. 
 
It’s definitely in our self-interest that the fast-food worker have access to free flu shots, and treatment for that cut or burn he/she sustained working the grill or the pizza oven or fryer.   It’s even in our self-interest to ensure that he/she can afford to take the day off if they feel ill – rather than coming to work sick, and maybe sharing those germs with a few hundred customers, right?
 
I don’t want to pay anyone more than they are worth – however, just because there is a large pool of unskilled labor available doesn’t mean that we should take advantage of it. 
 
It might even be the case that 4 good workers can outperform 6 mediocre ones, providing better customer service, higher quality food preparation and cost just the same.  Maybe!   Let’s think about having a minimum wage that is enough to live on.  
 
Happy Labor Day! 
 
 
PS – Kudos to Panera at University Town Center in Sarasota,  who has, by and large, kept the same faces at the point of sale  since it opened maybe 9 months ago.  That’s very unusual, and it’s a blessing when customers don’t have to wait while a new clerk hunts on the POS terminal for the requested food choice.   This Panera does everything well.   Thanks! 
 
Image source: Daily Kos
 
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