In the last segment of his latest edition of the Southern California Political Round-Up (Sept 28), radio host John Stammreich discussed the minimum wage fight as the "Third Rail" topic.
Referring to his guest on the Sept 21 episode, recently-elected mayor Suzanne Fuentes of El Segundo, Stammreich expressed dismay that few Los Angeles area mayors challenged LA Mayor Eric Garcetti's plea to raise the minimum wage to $13.75 an hour or more.
Last of all, he remarked that a number of local cities in the South Bay didn't throw huge celebrations because of Garcetti's policy move against hotel franchises in LA City.
Because the costs of running a hotel will increase with the minimum wage, and the charges which will pass on to the clients, the smaller cities who are not raising the minimum wage will gain extensive increases in business from travelers going in and out of LAX.
El Segundo will definitely benefit, and is planning on expanding their hotels in the city.
Yet the question remains: why do Republicans, conservatives, and limited government advocates avoid refuting the minimum wage talking points on the Left?
On its surface, what could be more cruel than suggesting that individuals should work for the minimum wage? Who would not support seeing American workers making more money for their labor?
The reality is that Republicans do not want to see workers struggling under stagnant wages. Yet with all the government interventions in the economy, the unintended consequences of statist policies like raising the minimum wage do not burst forth immediately.
Yes, the individual employee finds himself taking home a little more money right away in the paycheck, without doing anything more to earn it.
What the community does not see, what the liberal economists do not take into account, what the general public never follows on, are the following:
1. Businesses end up hiring fewer people.
2. Higher-level workers usually do not receive a similar pay increase, inducing them to leave their jobs or put pressure on their employers for a commensurate salary increase.
3. Employers and businesses which do not want to endure a shortfall in their profit margins will pass on the costs of this increase in the price of the goods sold. In some cities, the regulatory burdens have forced businesses to charge a distinct tax to cover those costs.
4. With the rise in employee costs, businesses not only can freeze hiring, but they can close their businesses for a final sell-off, laying off workers, and move operations to another city (or country).
Explaining the devolution of a business in a sound bite is not an easy task.
Another part of the problem lies in the language employed by liberals, by the left on the minimum wage.
"Raise the minimum wage" is misleading. Governments, laws, politicians do not raise anything but taxes, spending, and the costs of doing business.
When legislators or city councils enact laws requiring a higher minimum wage, they are in fact forcing businesses to make difficult, costly decisions. The politicians are not paying anyone, since the salaries do not come out of their pockets.
Republicans need to relearn the lesson mastered by Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher:
Define the terms of debate before your opponent.
All this rhetoric about "raise the minimum wage" is a false premise in itself, as far as governments are concerned.
“Forcing the minimum wage” is more accurate, and puts liberals in a less pleasing light.
Also, these minimum wage agitators have reshaped the argument to “living wage.” As if? Entry-levels jobs are that: entry level. They were never meant to be the ongoing wage on which any worker survived.
On one hand, conservative can gleefully agree with their liberal opponents: "I support raising the minimum wage!"
But how? They can then explain their plan: allowing individual businesses to profit and hire employees, and granting those employees the opportunities to further their potential through promotion and education.
Then Republicans follow up with inquisitorial questions:
Why are you making it harder for young children to get a good education, a good job, and better themselves?
Conservatives can then recite liberals' resistance to school choice, vouchers, internships, plus the regulatory burdens which hurt businesses and thus individual workers.
They can also shame liberals' profound ignorance about economics with a question:
How are you going to raise the minimum wage of working Americans? Are you the one paying them?
Once again, the brutal fact about government interventionism is that the law does not create wealth, but merely redistributes it by force.
The Republicans can declare: "You want to force the minimum wage. You can't raise anything!"
This kind of rhetorical shift will put away the notion that Republicans, conservatives, etc. want to keep people poor, and instead shift the blame denounce the bullying nature of the left toward ordinary Americans, including Mom-and-Pop small businesses, because liberal politicians are preventing Mom-and-Pop businesses from making their own decisions and help their communities.
Republicans should revisit another piece of advice from Prime Minister Thatcher, who reminded her Conservative peers:
Economics are the method; the object is to change the heart and soul.
The moral argument is missing for Republicans. While Republicans insist that Democratic policies don't work, Democrats attack Republicans with personal invectives, invoking a war on women, minorities, gays, etc.
Instead of a dry economic treatise, Republicans have to call out minimum wage agitators on the truth, but with emotional appeals:
1. They believe that people are too stupid, lazy, or incompetent to rise above an entry-level job.
2. They want to see poor and minority youth at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to job-training and resume building.
(In other words, it's a racist policy to force (not raise) the minimum wage.)
3. They have never run any business, but want to run businesses into the ground or out of the state.
More dramatic assaults may be necessary. If US Senator Elizabeth Warren believes in a higher minimum wage, why doesn't she start by practicing what she preaches? If Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) wants to force the statewide minimum wage, why doesn't he start by paying his interns? Why not cover the costs with his own money?
|What? I have to pay|
their wage increase?!
|Congresswoman Bachmann Blitzed Sanders on the minimum wage issue|
Other novel responses can include success stories of individuals who started out on the minimum wage, then worked their way into prominence and prosperity in their respective professions. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has done a phenomenal job of relying on individual success stories in his state following the economic reforms he implemented.
These moral appeals are more effective than economic arguments.
Republicans need to employ these offense-as-best-defense tactics in the minimum wage debate. Out of fear or lack of knowledge, conservative politicians skirt the subject or push it aside quickly with an economic explanation, one which never wins the hearts and minds of voters.
A change of mind, an aggressive push to define the debate, one depicting the liberal agenda in its true light, and Republicans can end liberals' minimum wage agitation, which hurts businesses and deprives good workers of better opportunities.