Yesterday, November 4, 2013, one day before New Jersey's gubernatorial election, the lead front page article in the New Jersey Star-Ledger by Susan K. Livio concerned the New Jersey Minimum Wage Increase Amendment. That this is the lead article in NJ's largest newspaper on the eve of a gubernatorial election highlights the importance of this ballot question. Here are the opening paragraphs:
TRENTON — The governor’s race is getting all of the attention, but the most contentious contest this year is a fight between business and labor leaders who together have spent $2.3 million to sway the outcome of a ballot question that asks: Do minimum wage workers in New Jersey deserve more than $7.25 an hour?
If the answer is yes, not only would the 49,000 people who earned the minimum wage last year automatically get paid a dollar more an hour in January, the state’s constitution would be changed to ensure future increases are tied to the cost of living.
At press conferences and rallies, community groups defined the minimum wage as a fight for economic opportunity for working poor and under-employed people of all ages and backgrounds, with some describing how they’re forced to hold several jobs and still can’t make ends meet.
What follows is based on comments I left below Livio's article.
This "news" article reads more like an op-ed, considering how the issue is framed. I count at least four fallacies in the first 3 paragraphs:
"a ballot question that asks: Do minimum wage workers in New Jersey deserve more than $7.25 an hour?"
No, it doesn't. The ballot asks: "Do you approve amending the State Constitution to set a State minimum wage rate of at least $8.25 per hour?"
Voters can not possibly know who of the 49,000 minimum wage workers "deserve" higher pay. Only the employer can make that determination. Workers who believe they deserve more money can negotiate for higher pay or seek a higher paying job elsewhere. Only employers and employees have the moral right to determine "deserved" wage levels through voluntary, mutually beneficial contracts. Minimum wage laws destroy that right and are thus immoral.
"If the answer is yes, not only would the 49,000 people who earned the minimum wage last year automatically get paid a dollar more an hour in January, the state’s constitution would be changed to ensure future increases are tied to the cost of living."
This is an echo of Obama's dishonest "If you like your health insurance, you can keep it." Many of those 49,000 workers will lose their jobs, because they will be priced out of the labor market. This is easily proven by posing this simple question to each voter: Is price a factor in your myriad spending decisions? Yes? Well, a wage is a price, and thus a factor in any employer's decision on hiring. Too high a labor price, and the employer won't create or maintain that job, just as too high a price for the product or service the employer's business produces will make you unwilling or unable to buy it.
". . . community groups defined the minimum wage as a fight for economic opportunity for working poor and under-employed people. . ."
Minimum wages destroy economic opportunity, for reasons cited above. Minimum wage laws especially hurt low-skilled, inexperienced but ambitious young people by destroying opportunities to get onto the lower rungs of the “jobs ladder.” By making entry-level jobs less economical, such laws rob them of the chance to gain the skills, experience, self-discipline, and self-esteem needed to climb that ladder. Minimum wage laws kill jobs, and the higher the rates are set above market, the more jobs are killed, as any good economics textbook proves and as common sense dictates.
". . . some describing how they’re forced to hold several jobs. . ."
No one is forced to hold any job, unless you consider nature's law that human beings must work to support their lives as "force," which is absurd on its face. The people actually being forced here are employers through legally mandated minimum wages, and prospective workers who are unemployment because they are legally forbidden to voluntarily agree to take a job for less than minimum wage.
As I urged yesterday, NJ voters should resoundingly reject the New Jersey Minimum Wage Increase Amendment. Not only would they be striking a blow for a better economy and job market, they would be taking a moral stand for individual rights and free markets.
NJ Voters Should Vote No on the New Jersey Minimum Wage Increase Amendment
Minimum Wage Issue is Not "about what it’s like to live on $7.25 an hour"