Will Raising the Minimum Wage Solve Our Problems?

Today Seattle approved a hike in the minimum wage for the city. I’m really torn on whether this is a good idea. My feeling is that there are other ways to help the economic gap, such as rent control/stabilization and improving public transportation. If we can make life more affordable, we don’t necessarily have to pay everyone more. Some may say that is a case of “six of one” but I really feel psychology will play a heavy role in whether a higher minimum wage will be a help or a hindrance.

Also, I see statements like the one below, and I think to myself, “this is an issue between you and your boss, not an issue for legislation.”

Crystal Thompson, 33, told The Seattle Times she has been working at a local Domino’s Pizza for five years and still makes minimum wage. She says her responsibilities have grown, and she sometimes is responsible for opening and closing the store.

“I think I deserve a raise,” she told the Times.

If you’ve worked some place for five years with no raise and accepted increased responsibilities to boot, that, my friend, is your problem. Sure, this is an isolated case, but if it is any indication of the “problem” as a whole, there are better solutions than just forcing employers to arbitrarily raise wages. Market forces, and the individual employees, should help dictate wage increases.

Raising the minimum wage is a mere bandage. Here in Seattle, at least, there are many factors in play that make wages seem inadequate, factors we are not addressing. Developers build apartments unfettered, raising property values to unreasonable levels. Lower wage earners cannot afford to live in the city where they are employed, making their lives even more expensive as they have to consider transportation into their daily costs. It’s great that computer programmers can walk to work, but do they care that their janitors and baristas have to commute an hour each way on an unreliable bus or spend hundreds maintaining a jalopy just so they can serve their pasty selves? (yes, yes, I know not all programmers are pasty)

Anyway, my point is that the issue is way too complex to be remedied by an across-the-board wage increase.