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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 31 2013: The best way to raise the minimum wage is to completely do away with it. Allow the market to determine what it can afford to pay people and still make a profit. The most effective managers of American business are those that are in it. Most of the lawyers and intellectuals that fill the halls of Congress and live on Pennsylvania avenue have no clue what it is like to own and operate a small business. Neither do a majority of the population; most have never done so. "Working" in a small business and "owning" one are completely different and sadly most "employees" have no clue in regards to the copious requirements, in both time and capitol, to conceptualize, open, and operate a business. The "everyone gets a trophy" generation that represents a great number of our young workers right feel that a certain standard of living or wage is due them simply because they are able to draw a breath when they awake each morning. The idea of outworking your peers to advance is seldom evident anymore.
    Our economy continues to show anemic growth due to over-reaching government interference, not because government has not done "enough". Unfortunately, we'll never really know the heights of productivity and innovation the American economy could reach were it allowed to flourish under a model suggested by the likes of Thomas Sowell or Milton Freidman. The claws of tyranny and regulation are already sunk way too deep into the tissue of American business.
    As one who owned and operated a successful business from 1989 until 2007 and now works for someone else, I can't imagine opening another business in the current political/economic climate. I'm not alone. More and more people who once owned small businesses have gotten out and will not jump back in unless political winds were to bring us a Congress and Administration that pledged to repeal many of the cumbersome regulations that hamper growth, do away with the minimum wage, and replace our current tax system in favor of a flat tax.
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      Apr 16 2013: The minimum wage was instituted during the great depression. I'm not sure what your 'everyone gets a trophy' comment refers to. It isn't like a minimum wage job is much of a reward. Furthermore, if we allowed the market to pay as little as possible and still attract a warm body, who would buy our output? The workers

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