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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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  • Apr 8 2013: James Clary nailed it. The government has limited us in so many aspects of our lives already. We didn't get to be the great nation that we are by rewarding ALL particpants. To manage a stepped minimum wage would require companies to devote more of their resources to the administrative tasks. Enough already. If people don't feel adequately compensated, they will find other employment. There are laws in place to prevent/discourage discrimination; the government needs to stop micro-managing our lives and our businesses. People's pay should be determined by what they contribute to the bottom line but that's apparently against the law.
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      Apr 16 2013: So, for example, if a business decides to pay women less money than it pays a man for doing the same job; the government should 'stop micro-managing'? If businesses really paid according to a workers contribution to the bottom line, that would be fine. Unfortunately, that can be difficult to measure, and in practice discrimination influences outcomes.

      The US became a great nation by allowing the poorest among us the opportunity to build a better life. The minimum wage is a part of that social contract, as are laws that ban child labor, and provide free public education to all of our kids.

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