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Eric Hazelle

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A stepped minimum wage

In the U.S., minimum wage has come up again. If it is raised, employers say they'll have to lay off minimum wage workers to cover the extra expenses. Proponents say it will give minimum wage workers a "living wage".

How about this? Have a stepped minimum wage. (The following numbers are just for discussion sake, not proposals for definitive compensation.) Let's permit kids age 14-15 to get work permits, for something like Macdonald's, or Walmart. They'd be allowed to work, say, 15 hours a week flipping burgers or stocking shelves and getting, say, $6 an hour. It would give them an income, teach them to handle money, contribute to their family, and they'd be able to work as long as their school work didn't suffer.

When they turn 16, increase their hours and pay to 20 and $7 an hour. Again, subject to school performance. At age 18 permit full-time employment as long as they've graduated from high school at $8.50 an hour, unless they're married and have a family, then give them the proposed new minimum wage. (What is it? $10.50 an hour? Anyway.)

From there, put percentages on the number of employees in each category an employer could have. Say a MacDonalds could have 20% 15 year olds, 20% 16, 20% 18 and so on. Tweak the numbers so they'd be paying no more than what they're currently paying.

Benefits; kids off the streets and productively employed, contributing to the family's income and learning working skills. A system that employers of minimum wage workers could support, and not be out extra money.

As I say, this is just for discussion; tweak the numbers, percentages and ages to get a workable plan, then see if congress could go for it.

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  • Mar 23 2013: Unless we live subsidized lives our work has to add value to receive any payment. If we can work we are paid a proportion of the value added by our work.

    If our work fails to add sufficient value to support our lifestyle, we have to find some other work or improve our competence for higher value work.

    Such is our incentive to understand our strengths, study to change our brains and skills and to work smart at our art or service for others. Imagine our country supporting those who cannot work without these incentives.

    Eric's stepped minimum wage proposal would require a government bureaucracy so large to administer it even more of our wages would be consumed in running it.
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      Mar 24 2013: In Australia we've had this system for 50 years or so, and in that time we have gone from being a minor player to being the 12th largest economy on the planet.

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