At a Minimum

By Ted Craig October 09, 2018

Let’s get this straight right now – Amazon did not raise its “minimum” wage. It raised its starting wage. A minimum wage is a government mandate. A starting wage is a company policy. The company has said that now that it’s seen the light, it will push for a higher minimum wage for all. Jeff Bezos really is the second coming of John Rockefeller.

The new starting wage includes Whole Foods. A few years ago, Whole Foods was the target of a Fight for $15. I pointed out a labor lawyer friend that you never see an automated check out at a Whole Foods. At $15 an hour, you will. Of course, Amazon took care of that when it bought the grocery chain.

A higher minimum wage would be great for the used-car business if everybody kept their jobs (or in the case of Amazon, their compensation). But they won’t. A reverend leading a Fight for $15 campaign here in Michigan said the talk of replacing workers with machines, such as the McDonald’s kiosks, is an empty threat. He said the Big Three tried that and it didn’t work. He’s referring to the problems GM had with its robots 30 years ago. Times have changed and flipping burgers is much easier to automate than building cars.

It’s funny that people who use Smoot-Hawley like a curse word forget that the minimum wage started as a form of protectionism. It acted like an internal tariff to protect northern laborers from lower wages in the South. And it’s a crude tool. A better system would be based on a percentage of the prevailing wage.

It would be nice if everybody were paid more. I’m just not sure about the right way to make that happen.

Last modified on Tuesday, 09 October 2018 11:55

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