This may kill my career as a business adviser and educator. What I am about to say is very unpopular with business. This idea is opposed by not only the biggest employer in the United States, but by most of the biggest employers in the United States. The top 3 employers in the United States are Wal-Mart, MacDonald’s and Yum Brands (which is anything but yummy). Combined you have about 3.5 million people, more than 10% of the total population, working for predominantly minimum wage paying corporations.
That ought to scare the hell out of you if you have kids. 3 companies, 10% of the entire population, lousy pay.
I had an exchange on LinkedIn with a nameless attorney today that didn’t go well. He posted a brief line about San Diego deciding not to raise the minimum wage of that city. I posted in response my regret that again, as usual lately, money wins.
He didn’t like that. He’s a bit player in the home healthcare and babysitter business and doesn’t want to see those big home care mills having to pay a living wage to people who feed and bathe the elderly or care for our children. His next statement was, if not sad in reality, absurdly laughable. He claimed that raising the minimum wage by $1/hr costs employers $11, 908 per year. (I may be off by $10, he decided to block me because we are never to question the wisdom, or math, of attorneys and I no longer can see his post though you can).
I suppose in this day of the ruling 1%, we unwashed masses are not to question the math. But it seemed like a stretch to me. I mean, what kind of tax bracket costs you $10,000 for a $2,000 raise?
He might not be able to do the math, but I can. There are 52 weeks in a year. There are 40 work hours in a week. That’s 2080 hours if you work full time, every single week. So the $1 raise could amount to $2080. Yes, there would be some added employer side tax burden. That would be about 12% with Social Security and the other small taxes like unemployment insurance. Let’s go to 15%. That would be $315 of tax burden in addition to the $2080. Doesn’t that come up to $2395? We’re not even close to that $12,000 he claimed. So I made the mistake of questioning the “esquire of home care”.
I (me, Chris Reich) know nothing according to this top legal expert. A live-in babysitter gets paid for 8 hours and then they get 15 hours of over-time per day. Per day? Yes, and after a few days, we’re well past 40 hours and are then we enter triple or quadruple time. By the end of the week, we’re in loan shark territory. Using his math, I did indeed arrive at the extra $12,000. Also, the average babysitter or home healthcare worker, live-in, is pulling in around $80,000 a year in addition to free run of your home and all they can eat.This at least according to his math.
Okay, he’s a lawyer, not a mathematician. But if a lawyer got you into a contract like that with a babysitter, you might want to look for a new lawyer.
But I’m not writing this to slam lawyers. There’s no fun in that as there’s too much agreement. I’m writing this because I’m tired of being told lies for the sake of greed. Sure, somewhere out there is a babysitter being paid for 24 hours a day. I’m sure this guy could produce one. Lawyers never lie. But seriously, how many are there? Will the entire babysitter industry collapse if we raise the minimum wage? Will a crappy burger at MacDonald’s suddenly cost $100? Will Wal-Mart’s $8 jeans ratchet up to $50 a pair if the Bentonville gang paid their employees enough so that they could eat without you and me paying for their food stamps? This argument reminds me of the tobacco companies lawyers protecting their clients. I remember when the auto companies said that requiring cars to have seat belts would ruin the industry. They still use arguments like that against clean air standards.
See, that’s where my greed kicks in. I don’t want to pay for the food of working people with my taxes. I want to pay for their food from the price I pay when I spend my money at their employer’s business. (For the record, I do not shop at Wal-Mart and do not feed at MacDonald’s)
I want my taxes to be used for better purposes like veteran care so we can continue with wars that make no sense. (Bob, for the record, that’s snarky.)
Why do I call it greed to want the minimum wage increased? It’s good for business. Having a class of well paid people means more consumers. It means more spending. It means more businesses can hire people like me so they can do even better. Instead, we’re wasting money on lawyers to fight paying a living wage. That’s sad. Worse, it’s dangerous. Our middle class is truly shrinking and it, not the rich and their seed money, is the real engine of our prosperity. Apple can make a lot of cheap I-Phones in China but when no one can afford them at $600, the party will be over.
I want clean, smart and well-fed people taking care of the elderly and our kids. I want those clean, smart people preparing and serving food. I want people who work 40 hours a week to be able to live on it, eat well, drive a car and watch TV. I don’t think that is asking too much. It’s probably a good idea to educate their children too but I won’t push it.
Please, let’s start looking for ways to do more of the greatest thing a business can do: provide someone with a living. We can do it. I know we can do it. We can even make more profit doing it. Pay them well and treat them right and they’ll do things for your business you never believed possible.
Finally, Mr. Lawyer, if I make you that upset with that proposition, we were never going to make it as “connections” anyway.
I really want to hear what you think because I believe it’s time for change and that change for the better is possible. Do you?
Drop me a note: [email protected]