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Why not lower the minimum wage?

As I listened to President Obama declare war, figuratively speaking, on unemployment today, I was struck by how non-audacious his proposals really are. There’s more of the usual Keynesian tinkering -- more countercyclical benefits for jobless workers, some infrastructure spending -- and a few vaguely defined tax breaks for “small businesses.” But I heard precious little that violated any of Washington's policy taboos.

Take the minimum wage. Back in 2007, Congress enacted a three-stage increase in the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25, the last installment of which took effect just last July. This was done with the best of intentions, of course. But what it meant in practical terms was that, at the height of a savage recession, the government essentially imposed a substantial tax increase on hiring. No wonder the unemployment rate among black teenage males is at an all-time high of 57 percent.

I know, I know: the actual impact of minimum wage laws on employment is a hotly debated subject. But the overall sweep of economic research supports the prediction of economic theory -- and common sense -- which is that raising the price of labor will, at the margin, reduce hiring. In a 2008 survey of decades of minimum-wage literature, economists David Neumark of the University of California, Irvine and William L. Wascher of the Federal Reserve Board confirmed that minimum wage laws do indeed reduce job opportunities for less-skilled workers and even tend to reduce their earnings.

If Obama and Congress were really as serious as they say they are about reducing unemployment, they would at least be willing to discuss rolling back last July’s minimum wage increase. It would create some jobs for those who need them most, and it would not cost taxpayers a dime. Yes, those who get hired at a reduced minimum wage would have to work for less. But at least they'd be working.

By Charles Lane  | December 8, 2009; 4:20 PM ET
Categories:  Lane  | Tags:  Charles Lane  
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Comments

Obviously Mr. Lane, you've never had to work and be paid a minimum wage because if you did, you would know that in this day and age you would be living on the streets. Minimum wage doesn't allow you to live in a nice neighborhood where you won't get shot at, nor does it pay for groceries unless you can live on spam.

But I guess someone like yourself who probably pulls down a very healthy six-figure salary, if not more, wouldn't know about life for the working poor, which is why you've made such a stupid comment.

Posted by: missgrundy | December 8, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

That is about the dumbest thing I've heard from anyone not from Alaska say in a very long time. It makes ftards like jeff sessions and jom demint and mitch mcconnell sound like freakin geniuses.

how about this, put a cap on all income over 100 million instead. That way we would not have hedge fund managers who take home more than the entire professional staff of the NY public school system. ight free up some money to pay those at the lower end some more - which would be immediately spent, which drives demand, which drives production.

Where di the Post get this moron? He makes will and krudpudder sound downright erudite.

Posted by: John1263 | December 8, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Idiot! Why is it no one in the WP or WSJ ever comes up with the idea of lowering the pay of the rich? Couldn't be because the owners and editors are rich, could it?

So let's give all the rich a true pay cut in the form of a tax increase:
50% on income over $1M
75% on income over $10M
90% on income over $100M

Posted by: chucky-el | December 8, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Lane, I would suggest that you experience of joy and comfort of living on a minimum wage salary for a few months, and then write an article about it. People like you are what got our country where it is now economically. President Obama, with the grace of God, will heal your years of abuse.

Posted by: paris1969 | December 8, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Any business which needs minimum wage workers to survive is doomed.

Posted by: The-Historian | December 8, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

I have no doubt that "at the margin" a higher minimum wage causes the loss of a few jobs. What it does do is give millions of others *not* at the margin a modestly acceptable wage (I joke, but it's better than Mr. Lane's alternative).

Let's see: do we want to drive down the wages of the already lowest earners in society in return for gaining a paltry few extra jobs which don't pay enough to live? Or do we want to keep the majority of the lowest tier somewhere in the vicinity of being able to buy groceries? Hmm. Tough choice.

Posted by: miffedone | December 8, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the other posters. How can this guy even write this crap? Lower the minimum wage when it took so long to get it raised? Of all the suggestions on increasing jobs in this country, this has got to be the most stupid one yet.

The minimum wage was low and employers still weren't hiring and the employees had to get government help just to eat.

Easy for an idiot like this to make this claim when he doesn't have to feed a family on the minimum wage.

Posted by: wmwilliams14 | December 8, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Unbelievable...a conversation with this guy must be like talking with bread mold...

Posted by: focalpoint1 | December 8, 2009 5:24 PM | Report abuse

I agree w/all the other posters here. 30% of a 40 hour week at minimum wage is about $377/month. That is the amount you are supposed to budget for rent. In this area, Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a 1 bedroom unit is about $1,100/month. I can't think of any place in the country w/an FMR of $377 or less on a 1 bedroom unit unless maybe it's a cardboard box on a steam grate.

Posted by: Arggg | December 8, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Wait, I've heard something about how this ends after wages are cut...

You load sixteen tons, and what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt.
Saint Peter, don't you call me, 'cause I can't go.
I owe my soul to the company store...

Granted minimum wage workers aren't being paid in scrip but the principal is the same. The store is different.

Posted by: Bulldeazy | December 8, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

A person incurs more costs by expending resources (gas, public trans., work clothes) in order to work for puny wages than by just sitting at home doing nothing. Paying 7 dollars instead of 5 is not going to bankrupt businesses looking to hire minimum wage workers! If they do decide to stop hiring based on a minimum wage increase they will realize they are short on workers and their businesses will go under. Hiking up the minimum wage benefits the businesses too, because it means that more people will compete for that job, and the business can hire the best candidate.

Posted by: leilaash | December 8, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

missgrundy,

The federal minimum wage may make some workers make more, but it results in fewer people being hired. How much does somebody make who doesn't have a job because an employer had to pay everyone else more?

Posted by: sakalava47 | December 8, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

The federal minimum wage tends to close the doors to poor workers.

The minimum wage hurts the poor! Does anybody here arguing against Mr. Lane have any knowledge about the economics of the minimum wage?

The minimum wage is a barrier to entry into a job. People don't stay at a minimum wage if they do well; they get raises and promotions. But if they can never get a job in the first place, then they will never get the raise or the promotion.

And look at his stat: 57% of black youth don't have jobs. Do teenagers need living wages, or do they need to learn the value of hard work? Meanwhile, businesses cannot expand and grow when payroll is too expensive, so the economy suffers.

Posted by: sakalava47 | December 8, 2009 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Haha, if you lower the minimum wage you'll go from high unemployment to not having it even worthwhile to have a job.

This would effectively be abolishing the 40-hour work week by forcing people to work two or three jobs to pull down an equivalent pittance. Or don't the working poor deserve time to spend with their families, contributing to the community, and raising their children?

We could even go so far as to lower the minimum wage to $0.00 and go back to slavery. This would be the optimal move by this author's logic.

Posted by: barclay631 | December 8, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

hahahaha this is just one more example of the "liberal" media that the eternal victims I mean conservatives must be talking about.

Boy that WaPo sure is a liberal rag hurrrrrrrrr

Hey Lane you insipid d-bag I have an even better suggestion. Work Camps. It works for the chinese.

Posted by: theobserver4 | December 8, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

He knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. He's a Republican.

Posted by: st50taw | December 8, 2009 5:47 PM | Report abuse

I'll skip the populism of many of the other commentators on this issue and attack this premise from an economic standpoint.

If minimum wage were lowered, it would drive up the number of people looking for second or even third jobs to support the families and lifestyles they can already barely afford. With the increase in demand, It would be unlikely you could decrease unemployment by much.

The most likely outcome would be barely changed jobless numbers and a whole lot of pissed-off low-income families earning the same amount they did before, but working a lot more hours to do it.

Posted by: DDgw2009 | December 8, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Barclay631,

But there aren't even enough jobs for people to get 2 or three.

So if the government did not require a minimum wage then people would agree to work for zero dollars? You need to take a course in economics.

I agree that people deserve high wages and a comfortable lifestyle, but government cannot make that happen through the minimum wage.

The minimum wage hurts the poor.
The minimum wage hurts the poor.
The minimum wage hurts the poor.

Posted by: sakalava47 | December 8, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

I had to re-read this article just to believe that this guy is actually advocating something as dumb as lowering the minimum wage. When I did, I came by this little nugget of information that I think explains at which point Lane stepped off of the Reality-bus where the rest of us working stiffs have to reside:

"No wonder the unemployment rate among black teenage males is at an all-time high of 57 percent."

What Lane perhaps hasn't realized yet is that we're not talking about lowering the base wages for kiddies looking for a few extra bucks during their after-school hours; the people who would be most affected by this are the people desperately trying to put food on the table for their children. We’re not talking about having to work a few more hours for that nifty new pair of shoes, but the difference between making rent this month or facing homelessness. Does he realize that the likely reason it’s so hard for teens to find employment is not because we’ve lost so many jobs at the lower echelons, but is because they have to compete with their friends’ parents for that job?

Lane apparently doesn’t understand just how deep this recession is, nor how difficult it is to make due on minimum wage under the best of economic circumstances. Then again, if this is the best work he can put together, he may get a chance to worry about just how many packages of ramen noodles one can afford on a McDonald’s salary.

Posted by: Merianya | December 8, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

"The minimum wage hurts the poor."

Yes it gets truthier when you say it over and over again.

Posted by: frantaylor | December 8, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Merianya,

But people making minimum wage are already benefitting from public assistance anyway. If employers could pay workers somewhat less, then they could hire people who have no jobs at all. How much does an unemployed person make?

Also, businesses could produce more and provide more services, which means more profits and more hiring across all levels of income.

This will open up the door to those who took the minimum wage job, and is now skilled and qualified to be promoted to manager or soemthing. But if that person is never hired because the employer doesn't have enough money, then he'll never get the promotion.

Listen, a lot of the democrat's ideas seem to help the poor, but all they really do is keep the poor down, and thus ensure their constitutencies:

Minimum wage
Support for unions
stiffling regulations
social security taxes
etc etc. This things all seems to help the poor, but all they really do is keep the poor man poor so that they will still need the democrats to "help" them.

Posted by: sakalava47 | December 8, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

frantaylor,

Please read Frederick Bastiat's "That which is seen, and that which is unseen."

http://bastiat.org/en/twisatwins.html

The democrats' policies have many visible benefits, but also many unseen drawbacks. You have to take them all into account when judging the over all benefit or detriment to a policy. The minimum wage has automatic visible benefits, but many unintended consequences that hurts the economy and the poor.

Posted by: sakalava47 | December 8, 2009 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Keep the Minimum Wage, it doesn't mean squat if you let Employers game the hours.

Instead, limit any Minimum Wage job to 5x8hours a week (same 5 days, same 8 hours). That would enable a worker to lose that awful distinction between "first jobs" and "second jobs". The reason it's an awful distinction is because it's base loaded with "pick the kids up after school" and "get a haircut" etc.

Posted by: gannon_dick | December 8, 2009 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Another example: Tariffs to protect US workers. Definitely makes the overall economy much worse off, while benefitting a few Americans. It seems to help, but it hurts us all more, and the democrats are always being tempted to do it.

See the petition of the candelstick makers against the sun:


http://bastiat.org/en/petition.html

Posted by: sakalava47 | December 8, 2009 6:11 PM | Report abuse

" No wonder the unemployment rate among black teenage males is at an all-time high of 57 percent."

I think I understand what you're trying to say...but what a blunt and awkward way to say it.

Mr. Lane does not even need to go and try to live on minimum wage to see how he likes it; several journalists have already done so and have written about it. Perhaps he could read some of their work.

Companies and economists who whine about having to pay a higher minimum wage need a slap in the face and a reality check.

Seriously; what are our priorities and why?

Posted by: mm_ingmar | December 8, 2009 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Is there anything worse than well-paid commentator suggesting that others work for peanuts? And Mr. Lane, as for employing young black people for low compensation, um, that went out after the Civil War.

Posted by: Bob22003 | December 8, 2009 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Let's see - Both the former Bush administration and the Obama administration enact stimulus plans amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars to float financial institutions deemed too big to fail. Those institutions, whose whiz kids contributed mightily to the economic crisis, are still committed to bloated bonuses and golden parachutes for CEOs.

Yet Mr. Lane seems to think that a major impediment to economic recovery is, incredibly, the raising of the minimum wage.

Nowhere in this abbreviated piece does Mr. Lane put the impact of the minimum wage in the context of the "Two Trillion Dollar Meltdown", as Charles R. Morris described in his book on the irresponsibility of both the Fed and Wall Street institutions. I would wager that he didn't because the impact is probably insignificant in comparision. I invite you to prove me wrong, Mr. Lane.

I would help you rearrange those proverbial deck chairs, but I think it's a waste of time.

Posted by: MillPond2 | December 8, 2009 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Bob22003,

People are hired when there are jobs, and the minimum wage makes jobs more scarce. Please study supply and demand.

Let me ask all readers a question. Why would someone take a job if it only paid 5 dollars an hour? Wouldn't he take a better job if one existed?

One does not exist because the jobs are not there. The supply of jobs is low, and the supply of workers is high. By artificially raising the cost of workers, you decrease the supply of jobs to entry level workers. Then people get used to being wards of the state and our national work ethic declines.

Posted by: sakalava47 | December 8, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse

For a supposedly smart person you are pretty freaking stupid

Posted by: scon101 | December 8, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

I am gobsmacked!

Here in Aus we have been having an ongoing conversation about how inadequate our minimum wage is.

In Australia we have free health care (hospital, GP, prescription subsidies), extensive rental support subsidies for the poor (via Centrelink) as well as a heavily weighted tax system aimed at preserving the meagre resources of our poorest citizens – but our minimum wage is still considered pitiful.

How much is the minimum wage in Aus?

From a press release earlier this year:

“In its 2009 general Wage-Setting Decision the Commission has decided to:

* maintain the standard Federal Minimum Wage (FMW) at $14.31 per hour ($543.78 per week)”

You Americans are not just insanely fearful – you are incredibly heartless.

And you constantly try and kid yourselves that everyone desperately wants to become an American? I was invited to visit the US last year and turned down the offer. Too dangerous (guns everywhere). Too depressing (homeless and hungry everywhere). Too self-centred and greedy (you consume 1/3 of everything consumed on this earth – and you make up about 5% of the worlds population).

And with genius journalists like this bloke writing for one of your major papers you are unlikely to develop much further before the civil war begins.

Good luck.

Posted by: jamesmmoylan | December 8, 2009 6:22 PM | Report abuse

scon101,

Instead of personal attacks, why don't you engage in the subject?

This article should help educate you.

http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa106.html

quote: "Minimum-wage legislation is and always has been the result of special-interest politics. Behind the rhetoric of economic justice and fairness lie purely self-serving political considerations. A particularly glib admission of this fact was recently made by a Democratic House aide, who claimed during a congressional battle over increases in the minimum wage that Democratic proponents would 'throw numbers out till nobody can have faith in the numbers, and then political considerations will win. That's how we do it every time.'

The simple truth about the issue is that any minimum-wage rate that is forced onto the market will have only negative effects on the distribution of economic justice. Minimum-wage legislation, by its very nature, benefits some at the expense of the least experienced, least productive, and poorest workers."

Posted by: sakalava47 | December 8, 2009 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps Mr. Lane might like to have his salary reduced too. He might try to live on the current minimum wage, and if he finds that to be no problem, he could asked for a reduction in pay to the older minimum wage level.

Posted by: marmac5 | December 8, 2009 6:28 PM | Report abuse

why don't politicians grow a pair and raise taxes?It not popular, but that's the most basic approach to raising revenue. One thing this recession, almost great Depression did was refute the buy now and never pay, "deficits don't matter" Reagan politics. No one is rolling a government program to help the minority population of Aliens from Mars.Seems like a good idea.

Posted by: bflaherty5 | December 8, 2009 6:30 PM | Report abuse

I have a better idea. Why not adopt the expansive social-democratic structure of France where if you're unemployed forever through no fault of your own the state will take care of you, and the Sword of Damocles won't fall on your head after six months of benefits as in the U.S. That won't cause the national unemployment rate to go up, since in France, with all its welfare baggage, unemployment is now lower than in the U.S.!

Posted by: smith2231 | December 8, 2009 6:32 PM | Report abuse

America:

“15.7 million households earning more than $500 000 a year”

“On any given night in America, anywhere from 700,000 to 2 million people are homeless”

America can’t afford a reasonable minimum wage?

Do the sums!!

(Americans really are greedy ar$holes)

Posted by: jamesmmoylan | December 8, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

i see this fascist fantasy was posted at 4:20.


how about a "maximum wage" on all American citizens?

anyone making over say $3 million per year is taxed at 100%.


this author, Charles Lane, is marked as an immoral sadist in my book.

have a great Xmas, scrooge.

Posted by: forestbloggod | December 8, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Ooops, liberal whiners on this board all want higher wages AND higher unemployment.

They say, without a drop of data, that you cannot live in a safe place on minimum wage.... but apparently they know of many places for those without a dime to live.

Simple fools trap in logic.

Posted by: docwhocuts | December 8, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

$7.25 is way, way too low for a minimum wage.

I already earn $100 per hour as a software consultant, but I'd like to earn more. I'm sure my employer could afford to pay me that much if they weren't so greedy, so let's raise the minimum to at least $150 per hour! Let's do it people--we'll all be rollin' in the dough before you know it!

Posted by: A1232 | December 8, 2009 6:54 PM | Report abuse

This is so unbelievably stupid I can't even believe there is a stupider column than Sarah Palin's on the site at the same time.

Posted by: Potter2 | December 8, 2009 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Before we lower the minimum wage perhaps we should see if you're really an earthling and not a enemy alien from Mars. I just did a Goggle on the jobs most vulnerable of being laid off. There were very few minimum wage type jobs on the list. In fact about as close as I could get would be hospitality type jobs (flipping hamburgers) I don't think lowering of the minimum wage would help the housing market, the financial market, business or professional market (not even ladies of the night make minimum wage) or any of the manufacturing jobs that have been moved off shore. (not many high tech manufacturing jobs pay minimum wage) All I could see that would be affected would be hamburger flippers or movie ticket takers and they ain't buyin' high ticket items.

Posted by: jws2346 | December 8, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

I totally support reducing the minimum wage for CEOs to $6.00 an hour.

Posted by: camasca | December 8, 2009 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Why not raise the minimum wage to $1,000 an hour?

Posted by: sakalava47 | December 8, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Your lead in, : Did you mean that we should peg it directly to China's lowest paid wage? Thet's essentially what happened with so many "American" companies having moved there and all..... You're a "bit late". It won't matter now.

Posted by: deepthroat21 | December 8, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

What about lowering the minimum wage of the average CEO?

. . . after all, they been doing such a swell job lately . . .

Posted by: palmtree2001 | December 8, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Only someone who has never missed a meal could ague this with a straight face.

Lets try an experiment. If Congress agrees to this idea, lets cut their congressional salary by 50%. In addition, the author of this post along with all of the people who agree with should this required to live on the street for a minimum of 90 days. Given these constraints I am confident that everyone would suddenly want to re-think this idea.

Rather than cutting the minimum wage I suggest we limit salaries, benefits and every other type of compensation given to the rich. Sound like socialism? Good. The incredible selfishness of this author and the rest our "fat cats" in America make sick.

Posted by: jwcole1947 | December 8, 2009 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Why not just bring back feudalism? After all, there was full employment then.

Mr. Lane is beyond clueless. Does the Washington Post actually pay for his opinions?

Ever since Reagan allowed the minimum wage to fall, we have been battling falling living standards. His decision actually created a class of people we call the working poor. The minimum wage needs to be raised, not lowered. Same goes for taxes. We essentially have a flat tax in this country. Among OECD countries, only Korea, Turkey and Mexico have a lower tax burden as a % of GDP.

Seriously, the readers of the Post deserve better than this drivel.

Posted by: charleslemos | December 8, 2009 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Mostly, (but not always) we pay people what they are worth. If we didn't we wouldn't have an NFL, NBA etc. But Senators can use force to give them higher wages. The market cannot.

I asked earlier why not raise the minimum wage to one thousand dollars. That would be silly right? But when a company with 500 minimum wage employees has to raise the minimum wage by 2 dollars, they lose one thousand dollars an hour. Guess where that money comes from? Fewer jobs, and higher priced goods for everyone, including the poor.

Posted by: sakalava47 | December 8, 2009 7:42 PM | Report abuse

57% of black teens are unemployed?
It's not because of the minimum wage ... it's because there are not enough business in black neighborhoods.
Many black neighborhoods do not have the collective economic earning power to attract small business. If they do manage to develop economic clout over time wal-mart comes in and destroys Mom and Pop business.

Support China, shop wal-mart.

Posted by: knjincvc | December 8, 2009 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Written by a guy who's not paid minimum wage obviously...

This is a bad idea ok. We can just leave it at that. Move on to some better ones than this.

Posted by: Nymous | December 8, 2009 7:48 PM | Report abuse

"But when a company with 500 minimum wage employees has to raise the minimum wage by 2 dollars, they lose one thousand dollars an hour. Guess where that money comes from? Fewer jobs, and higher priced goods for everyone, including the poor."

Ha Ha, name a company, besides wal-mart that has 500 minimum wage employees.
wal-mar could easily make up the difference by increasing the price of socks which as we all know cost them pennies because of Chinese labor and ZERO pollution costs.

Support China by exporting pollution costs.

Posted by: knjincvc | December 8, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Raising minimum wage by 2 dollars for a company with 500 min wage employees.

500 x 8 hours a day x 5 days a week x 52 weeks a year equals 1,040,000 dollars. Where does that money come from? It comes in the form of fewer jobs and higher prices. Who pays those higher prices? Frequently the poor do, especially since there are more poor than rich. So the minimum wage is paid for by the poor anyway.

Posted by: sakalava47 | December 8, 2009 7:58 PM | Report abuse

I see. So only government involvement applies when deducting from the bottom. The days of tax cuts for the rich and deregulation need to end now.

Posted by: revbookburn | December 8, 2009 8:03 PM | Report abuse

"Merianya,
But people making minimum wage are already benefitting from public assistance anyway."

The black teens you are so worried about aren't benefiting from public assistance. There parents may qualify for public assistance which helps put food on the table and a roof over their heads but does not give the teen spending money.

But you believe in eliminating social security and more deregulation, eliminating unions so eliminating the minimum wage is just fine with you.

Maybe the U.S. could export criminals to China to produce products for wal-mart whose employees could work for $0.75/hour.
Hey boss .. got a job?

Posted by: knjincvc | December 8, 2009 8:07 PM | Report abuse

When I was in college in the 80s, minimum was around $3.35 for a while. That it's only $7.15 nearly 30 years later is a travesty.

Posted by: readerny | December 8, 2009 8:08 PM | Report abuse

"Raising minimum wage by 2 dollars for a company with 500 min wage employees"

Name 100 companies with 500 minimum wage employees.

Posted by: knjincvc | December 8, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Lane's proposal is too timid. The minimum wage should be abolished; so should the prohibition against child labor. Did you know that the unemployment rate for eight year olds is 100%!!!

Worker safety laws should be repealed, too--drives up the cost of business. Workers will exercise their freedom to not contract with an unsafe employer.

Maybe Mr. Lane would favor the re-institution of slavery--it certainly ensured a low unemployment rate!

Posted by: WmHooper | December 8, 2009 8:16 PM | Report abuse

docwhocuts, another delusional nitwit.

Posted by: bendan2000 | December 8, 2009 8:17 PM | Report abuse

"especially since there are more poor than rich. So the minimum wage is paid for by the poor anyway."

Now you are beginning to get it. neo-con and corporatist republicans want to destroy the middle class. The deregulation you are so eager to embrace has just about accomplished their goal.

As someone else mentioned ..any business that depends on minimum wage workers to survive is doomed.

Shop wal-mart to support China.

Posted by: knjincvc | December 8, 2009 8:18 PM | Report abuse

All you need to know about Lane is he was lead editor at the New Republic when Steven Glass was writing his articles about, amongst other things, the Church of Alan Greenspan. Since he didnt realize then that such a story was just a slight bit "fishy", that tells you all you need to know about his "reasoning" skills.

Posted by: Makewonder | December 8, 2009 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Here's another labor cost idea to be considered....We could bring back slavery. This recession will never end if we stick to your half measures.

By your plan, millions of workers and families would would be hungry, weak and cold in the winter. Hardly a receipe for a healthy workforce.

Slavery, on the other hand, would provide the workers (slaves) with lodging, enough food to work efficiently and enough healthcare to keep them working.

The benifits to business are obvious. Please, reconsider your lame half measure and help acquire the labor that business needs.

Posted by: Petronius_Jones | December 8, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Ebenezer Scrooge: Why are these people out here? Wearing rags, eating scraps! Why aren't they in poorhouses, or...?

Ghost of Christmas Present: Have you VISITED any of these poorhouses you speak of?

Ebenezer Scrooge: No, but I'm taxed for them; isn't that enough?

Ghost of Christmas Present: YOU tell ME.


Spirit of Christmas Present: My time with you is at an end, Ebenezer Scrooge. Will you profit from what I've shown you of the good in most men's hearts?

Ebenezer: I don't know, how can I promise!

Spirit of Christmas Present: If it's too hard a lesson for you to learn, then learn this lesson! [opens his robe, revealing two starving children]

Ebenezer: [shocked] Spirit, are these yours?

Spirit of Christmas Present: They are Man's. This boy is Ignorance, this girl is Want. Beware them both, but most of all, beware this boy!

Ebenezer: But have they no refuge, no resource?

Spirit of Christmas Present: [quoting Scrooge] Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?

Posted by: itsagreatday1 | December 8, 2009 8:22 PM | Report abuse

"They say, without a drop of data, that you cannot live in a safe place on minimum wage.... but apparently they know of many places for those without a dime to live."

You may know of a safe place to live while earning minimum wage but can a person afford food?
More importantly, how many jobs are available?

Trapped by your own flawed logic.

Posted by: knjincvc | December 8, 2009 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Two-thirds of our economy is driven by consumer spending. For more than twenty years worker income has been declining. And yet we still get wise guys calling for lowering the minimum wage. A century ago Henry Ford paid his workers an unheard of $5 a day. Why? Cause he wanted his workers to be able to afford his products. Today, Walmart workers can probably only afford to shop at Walmart. Yup, lets all just race to the bottom.

Posted by: keithmo | December 8, 2009 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Why don't we just repeal child labor laws? Lots of 9-year olds could be helping their parents keep up with the mortgage payments. We could also eliminate mandatory school attendance.... think of the savings.

Posted by: steveboyington | December 8, 2009 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Why is it always assumed that employers will hire less people when the minimum wage is higher? Why can't the business owners just make less profit? Oh, gosh. That would be a novel idea.

Posted by: lnbee | December 8, 2009 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Lane, you are an arrogant pool of grease.

Go work for minimum wage and see what your new life is like. Stupid jackass!

Posted by: dlkimura | December 8, 2009 8:40 PM | Report abuse

We should use this downturn as an opportunity to make some hard choices. Cut taxes. Outlaw all regulation of business. Roll back environmental safeguards. Eliminate unions. No more minimum wage. No more OSHA standards. Boy, that would get us going again... back to the heyday of the 1880s. Sounds like the Chinese Coal Industry of today.

Posted by: steveboyington | December 8, 2009 8:41 PM | Report abuse

We should just let people vote for their own wages like our "leaders" in congress.

Didn't Adam Smith say something about that?... hmmm how did that go again?

Posted by: docwhocuts | December 8, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Inbee, often they cannot. Many business go into the red.

Posted by: sakalava47 | December 8, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Mr Lane,

Did you stop and think before you layed your fingers on the keyboard? I will guess not. If you make $5 per hour you are limited in what you can spend. If you make $8 per hour you have more money to spend. Simple. And with consumers expected to provide 70% of our economy; the US economy needs people to have more money.

Posted by: skramsv | December 8, 2009 9:02 PM | Report abuse

And when companies cut into their profits by paying higher wages, the following happens:

1. Government gets less in corporate taxes. Who hurts? Usually the poor.

2. Walmart's prices go up because they pass the cost along to you.

3. Fewer people get jobs.

4. Corporations don't expand. This hurts construction and whoever would have had profitable dealings with those corporations had those corporations had the $ to expand.

Listen, the path out of poverty is not income redistribution. Its the government enforcing contracts, keeping society safe, and then stepping out of the way. That is how Hong Kong, Singapore, Estonia, and Ireland had booming economies the last 10 years.

Posted by: sakalava47 | December 8, 2009 9:24 PM | Report abuse

As I read this article I kept waiting for the statement of irony or the punchline or the just kidding comment, but eventually I got the message, this guy is dead serious. How sad.

Posted by: kcooper35 | December 8, 2009 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Lane, I lost count of how many commenters have suggested that YOU try living on the minimum wage for a while. When are you going to post your reply?

Posted by: angelas1 | December 8, 2009 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Conservative pundits and economists should be paid no higher than the minimum wage. That is all, being generous, their opinions are worth anyway.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | December 8, 2009 9:42 PM | Report abuse


This article goes way beyond post-partisan.

It's insane!

Posted by: lcarter0311 | December 8, 2009 9:43 PM | Report abuse

You can't be serious.

Posted by: mmpd | December 8, 2009 9:49 PM | Report abuse

This sounds familiar from the pages of history. I believe the exact quote was "Let them eat cake." The didn't work out to well for the French now did it? The fact is we are in a pay Peter or pay Paul situation. If we do not pay a living wage, then we need to provide welfare. To do neither only builds anger until we have riots or even revolution. I for one would much rather pay a living wage and only have qualified workers in the workforce with those not qualified for any position due to lack of aptitude or motivation on the public dime. That way, I as a consumer would not have to deal with the mass stupidity that seams to permeate today's service industry dominate economy.

Posted by: jhalldc | December 8, 2009 10:04 PM | Report abuse

I love how just about every poster here who thinks Charles Lane is stupid can't seem to articulate why they think Charles Lane is stupid. We really need to teach basic economics to everybody before they get out of high school because you guys don't know squat.

Posted by: HookInMouth | December 8, 2009 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Lane,

Your comments are typical for a rich punk that went to Harvard and then Yale law school.

I am awed by the ease at which you are willing to pick on those who are at the bottom at the socioeconomic ladder.

You are a real intellectual *pussy* -- instead of going after all the fraud on wall street and attacking the pay and compensation of tax cheats working in the hedgefund industry -- yes they are...

yea the ones who claim they deserve to count their salaries and compensation as "capital gains" and subject to only the 15% tax rate vice the 36% tax rate they should be paying.

everyone knows these hedgefund managers have everyone else's money at risk (and none of their own)

be a man not an intellectual *pussy* -- don't pick on those making minimum wage, go after the wallstreet cheats

those that rip off the shareholders.

Posted by: FranknErnest | December 8, 2009 10:10 PM | Report abuse

Aaaaand, from the other side of the country, this story:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/dannywestneat/2010435946_danny06.html

Gotta wonder, folks.

Posted by: viennatrip | December 8, 2009 10:13 PM | Report abuse

One poster asked, "Why can't the business owners just make less profit? Oh, gosh. That would be a novel idea."

This is breathtakingly stupid. People don't put up their life savings and take on huge risks to start a business just to say, "Screw it, I don't need the money." Every penny counts.

People don't invest their money in companies (usually people who are hoping to retire) just to tell a board of directors, "You know what? Don't worry about declaring dividends this quarter. Or any quarter, really." That's not the way life works.

You see, most of us don't have a mommy and daddy from Scottsdale we can call up whenever we need rent money or just need to get this cute little top from Banana Republic. It doesn't work that way in the real world.

If you really think business owners are going to just see the light and throw off the need for profit, you are one dumb cluck.

Posted by: HookInMouth | December 8, 2009 10:19 PM | Report abuse

I love how just about every poster here who thinks Charles Lane is stupid can't seem to articulate why they think Charles Lane is stupid. We really need to teach basic economics to everybody before they get out of high school because you guys don't know squat.

Posted by: HookInMouth | December 8, 2009 10:09 PM | Report abuse

#########################################

You mean the same conservative version of basic economics that destroyed our financial system last year?

Posted by: maggots | December 8, 2009 10:23 PM | Report abuse

You mean the same conservative version of basic economics that destroyed our financial system last year?

Posted by: maggots

******************************************

No, my little platitudinal friend. I am referring to the basic laws of supply and demand that dictate when the price of anything goes up (like labor), the market for that thing goes down (like employment).

And I'm sure that you have no idea what "destroyed our financial system last year." I'll give you a hint that will blow your mind: It wasn't George Bush.

Posted by: HookInMouth | December 8, 2009 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Here's a good rule of thumb: whenever someobody says that conservatives or Republicans or George Bush either (a) "ruined the economy" or (b) "violated the constitution," that person generally has no idea what he's talking about.

Posted by: HookInMouth | December 8, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Hey sakalava47,
Do you have a list of companies which have 500 minimum wage employees yet?

Don't forget, support China, shop wal-mart.

Posted by: knjincvc | December 8, 2009 10:52 PM | Report abuse

"And I'm sure that you have no idea what "destroyed our financial system last year." I'll give you a hint that will blow your mind: It wasn't George Bush."

Soooo ... what was it?
And paaleeze don't tell us it was Barney Frank, Chris Dodd or ... when the U.S. had a president that could not spell VETO!

They called him "W' so he could spell it.

Posted by: knjincvc | December 8, 2009 11:04 PM | Report abuse

What rock did the Post find this guy under? He does seem to have the perfect mindset for the 1880s.

I trust that there's a sane person somewhere in the editorial page group who can counter this bizarre column and consider this country's responsibility to the folks who are bearing the brunt of this downturn -- brought to us courtesy of Godlman Sachs, Hank Peterson, Countrywide -- oh, and W.

Posted by: thmas | December 8, 2009 11:24 PM | Report abuse

You mean the same conservative version of basic economics that destroyed our financial system last year?
Posted by: maggots

---In 2004 congressional hearings, where the Bush administration sought greater oversight over Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said...."We do not have a crisis at Freddie Mac and particularly at Fannie Mae," adding that "the GSEs have exceeded their housing goals."

---Yeah she is a Democrat

Posted by: snapplecat07 | December 8, 2009 11:32 PM | Report abuse

"---Yeah she is a Democrat"

Aaand "w" couldn't spell "VETO"!

Posted by: knjincvc | December 8, 2009 11:44 PM | Report abuse

I have an even better idea. Let's cut the minimum wage in half and then let YOU work for that hourly wage. How fun would that be?

Posted by: JoanJohnson1 | December 8, 2009 11:45 PM | Report abuse

The more arrogant jerks like Lane get, the closer the revolution.

Posted by: dogsbestfriend | December 8, 2009 11:46 PM | Report abuse

How about this? If Mr. Lane can figure out how to live, let alone support a family on $5.15 an hour and not end up on the streets, or have his teeth fall out because he can't afford dentistry, or not have to wait for a sale at the thrift store to buy used clothing and shoes, then I say, go for it!

Posted by: cdanegregory | December 8, 2009 11:55 PM | Report abuse

You sound just like a Republican.

Take from the poor give to the rich.

Why not bring back slavery too, they work real cheap.

Posted by: Ciap | December 8, 2009 11:58 PM | Report abuse

Generally I try to keep my comments a little more highbrow, but ... here goes. Are you retarded? Are you at all aware of what the buying power is at minimum wage? Are you aware that real wages have been kept artificially low for a decade and a half and the decline in consumption might, just might, possibly be related to that? I'm making 12 dollars an hour and the only thing a decline in minimum wages is going to do is to drop the ass-end out of the wage market. That means my wages will go down. As is, I'm without insurance, and skimming by on the rest of it (monthly expenses). The only way this could help is to cause deflation, which it wont, because we've got a major disparity in the haves and have nots. Take a step back for the long view, or two back from the laissez-faire kool-aid stand.

Posted by: ntedrow | December 9, 2009 12:10 AM | Report abuse

For those of you who think, understandably because compensation has gone awry, that all we have to do is 'cap' (whatever that means) or tax the b*stards at 90% marginal. You must be young. We tried that way back in the 50's and 60's and guess what? Congress had lots of special loopholes to help people avoid taxes. We still have many starting with the two biggest the mortgage tax exemption and the non-taxable and pre-tax health care benefits. Hey I've been in the upper-middle class but not been in the the uber-wealthy, but those exclusions have saved me a lot of money.
However we should get rid of all the social/special interest tricks that Congress does with the tax code. I mean it's CONGRESS, people of all political persuasions can relate to that. we should let them tinker?
My proposal is to raise the minimum for paying taxes, including the payroll taxes. than let's all pay 20% on all income - no tricks, no social engineering, no special breaks for the super rich and there are a lot of those. At least we'd know that the woman who hid all her inherited income by holding muni bonds (I'm thinking of someone there) or the executive who sleazes by on option tricks and deferred pensions and special board awards would actually have to pay. A clean flat tax would provide a lot more transparency on who gets what.

Posted by: Observer21 | December 9, 2009 12:12 AM | Report abuse

Can anyone really doubt that the goal of the capitalist class is to lower the wages of the workers down to starvation wages?

They won't stop until workers are working for pay as low as they are in the poorest countries in the world.

Socialism, anyone? Isn't it time to look at it, at least? I mean, can it be any worse than capitalism?

Posted by: santafe2 | December 9, 2009 12:30 AM | Report abuse

because it's asinine, contrarian, and counterintuitive for the sake of themselves.

Posted by: daphne5 | December 9, 2009 12:49 AM | Report abuse

i got an idea, lane, you hopeless fukkkktard: why don't we lower your salary to below minimum wage. after all, you obviously don't work very hard, you p.o.s hack.

Posted by: memorybabe1 | December 9, 2009 12:50 AM | Report abuse

Someone wrote:
"or tax the b*stards at 90% marginal. You must be young. We tried that way back in the 50's and 60's and guess what? Congress had lots of special loopholes to help people avoid taxes."

Ya know, when the marginal rate was 90% the national debt was in the low billions.
Thanks to Reagan and bush jr the national debt is $10+ Trillion and the deficit is in the Trillions as well.There were plenty of jobs, families could live on one income, send children to college, imagine what the U.S. could do today...

Posted by: knjincvc | December 9, 2009 12:59 AM | Report abuse

The question of whether to raise or lower minimum wage is a case of asking the wrong question. To use a crude analogy, my big pet dog is eating all the food and the two little dogs don't have anything. I can only find enough scraps to keep one little dog alive, which should it be? Similar to, should we help a few who have jobs by raisning their minimum wage? Or hurt them by lowering it and getting a few more hired? When the real question is what should we do about the big dog eating all the food? Deal with the real problem and the "wrong" problem goes away.

Posted by: TomCantlon | December 9, 2009 1:51 AM | Report abuse

This might surprise some people, but the minimum wage for Mr. Lane, CEOs, you and me is the same. Mr. Lane and CEOs don't work for minimum wage because somebody is willing to pay them more for their work. You get paid what your work/skill/talent is worth due to supply and demand.

The government cannot guarantee you a decent living, you have to get that on your own. If you want to earn more than minimum wage, improve your skills. I am not rich, I am not college educated, but I have never earned minimum wage because I have acquired a set of skills that commands a salary in the market that is more than minimum wage. If you want higher earnings, improve yourself. Don't depend on the government.

Posted by: vik_m | December 9, 2009 2:28 AM | Report abuse

While I'm not one bit surprised by a the wealthy wanting the poor to bear the brunt of the crisis, Mr. Lane dismissing a stimulus which can be empirically shown to have worked as "Keynesian tinkering" while pushing for something that would at best have a marginal effect on the economy is intellectually dishonest, to say the least.

I'd recommend Mr. Lane to lay off the AEI and Heritage cool-aid and read some world-class economists, instead. He could start with Prof. Krugman's "The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008", which is a relatively easy read while also clarifying some neo-Keynesian theories that Mr. Lane really doesn't seem to have understood.

Posted by: sembtex | December 9, 2009 2:35 AM | Report abuse

"Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?"

The Post is getting into the spirit of the season as only the Post can.

Posted by: hellslittlestangel1 | December 9, 2009 3:23 AM | Report abuse

In the real world where people have to exist on min. wage it is not enough, so most qualify for food stamps. $5.15 an hour will not bring back boxing toys in Mexico for $1/hr. McDonald's will pay a raised min. wage to the person serving fries and cleaning the bathroom, no matter what it costs. Unless we drop it to less than $1/hr these jobs will not return, which will never happen.

Posted by: jameschirico | December 9, 2009 4:58 AM | Report abuse

lane is stuck on stupid, he can help it...

Posted by: thebiggestmouth | December 9, 2009 5:34 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Lane is able to join Sarah today in the idiot's chorus.

Posted by: Marcaurelius | December 9, 2009 5:50 AM | Report abuse

Absolutely amazing how many liberals prefer that teens be unemployed rather than paid less than $7.25 per hour. The bulk of these comments lament the plight of people if they were making less than minimum wage and ignore the plight of these same people living on nothing because they are unemployed. Amazing how these posters think that working for $5 per hour is so much worse than being unemployed.

Posted by: amazd | December 9, 2009 7:23 AM | Report abuse

Better idea: lower Charles Lane's wage. Or better yet, put him on an experimental 90-day layoff, to see whether anyone at WaPo notices he's not around. (Hint: readers wouldn't.)

Posted by: misterjrthed | December 9, 2009 8:05 AM | Report abuse

There's an easy answer, Mr Lane. Reducing what people get paid doesn't automatically translate to more jobs. Owners can simply keep the amount for themselves or reward other employees with raises, or even invest in new equipment . We can debate whether or not that is worthwhile but it is misguided to believe that lower wages=more new hires.

Posted by: parkavdesign | December 9, 2009 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Liberals have no fiscal sense. They firmly believe "As long as there are checks in the checkbook, there is money in the bank."

As we move closer to third world inflation with spending (stimulus, war, health-care etc) and we continue to lose jobs, the "free lunch" crowd still stands with extended hands screeching "More! I want more!" And Joe Biden and the Unions are just egging it on.

Liberals are "victims" of the "something for nothing" mindset.

Posted by: 2009frank | December 9, 2009 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Lower the minimum wage? I actually have an alternate idea: Limit all executive compensation. The reason is simple: Before Reagan, executives were paid about 4.3% of companies' net revenue. By now they get about 10.5%. They have obviously not gotten that much better: we have had 2 major economic crises (one under Reagan and the other under Bush,jr.)

I will provide a concrete example: In May 2007 Circuit City laid off 3400 employees (targetting those who had earned performance-based raises and promotions) to save $110million. It also gave the big chief a bonus of $110million (an interesting coincidence). Circuit City is now out of business! Somehow, I do not think the bonus was deserved.

Posted by: AMviennaVA | December 9, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

I was sure you were joking so I read the article, what planet do you live on???????
I live in a city where its considered less expensive to live and even here the living wage needs to be ten dollars an hour to just get by with a little decency!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: honeybee1 | December 9, 2009 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Why not? Because you can't live off the minimum wage, idiot.

Posted by: jckdoors | December 9, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

There should be NO MINIMUM WAGE - THE private sector should be able to pay it's workers what ever they want WITHOUT government interference. If you don't want to accept the pay - don't take the job - you losers! Vote Palin/Palin 2012! Sarah on top/Todd on the bottom (of the ticket!) PALIN - what the country deserves!

Posted by: kparc | December 9, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Just one more step in the race to the bottom.

Why not just repeal the 13th amendment while we're at it? Not much chance of a republican filibuster on that one!

Posted by: seattle_wa | December 9, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

After having taken one econ class at the graduate level, I volunteered to work in Peru. No economy survives or flourishes without money being in the hands of the working people. The money spent by the carpenter, theoretically moves through the hands of ten entities. Latin Aamerica has suffered for years with low wages and it has kept the whole continent poorer than it should be. Study econ 101!

Posted by: ritapolicarpotexas | December 9, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

I have several web businesses where the margins are so low that I need to use entry level kids who know a little about computers. They are typically 16-18 years old and live at home. At $5.15/hour I would always get at least 2 for the summer. At $7.25/hour I hired none as the numbers didn't work.

ymmv,

taw

Posted by: tawfrommichigan | December 9, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Listen, the path out of poverty is not income redistribution. Its the government enforcing contracts, keeping society safe, and then stepping out of the way. That is how Hong Kong, Singapore, Estonia, and Ireland had booming economies the last 10 years.------------------------

Once again people making comments about things they don't know about.

Does this person know for instance that the MINIMUM WAGE in IRELAND is better than our minimum wage and has been for some time

Experienced adult worker €8.65 (or around $12.54)
And both Singapore and Hong Kong both have standard of living minimum wages similarly.

Posted by: kare1 | December 9, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

"... which is that raising the price of labor will, at the margin, reduce hiring..."
And, at the other margin, lowering the minimum wage will punish those workers subject to it. The Wallys and McDs of the world pay minimum wage to the minimum # of employees because that's their business model. Minimum 10 hands needed, 10 hands it is, whether those hands cost $10 or $2 an hour.

Oh, man. Then this: "... At $5.15/hour I would always get at least 2 for the summer. At $7.25/hour I hired none as the numbers didn't work..."

Sorry, if this is how you "work" the numbers, then it's a surprise you have a business at all.

Nobody survives on minimum wage. Minimum wage earners nearly always work 2 or more jobs. Minimum and other low wage workers consume a disproportionately large amount of other services, food stamps, medicaid, etc A realistic minimum wage makes sense on every level.

Lane joins a host of WaPo columnists driving a stake through the heart of a once great paper. Next he'll be saying "hey, let's cut the taxes on the wealthiest 2%, the extra money they spend on champaign and yacht parts will, ahhh, trickle down! That's it, trickle down to the serfs, I mean, working poor...

Posted by: critical44 | December 9, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

knjincvc,

You are right about Bush not vetoing enough.

You are wrong if you think that my argument depends on one company having 500 people. It was just an example that can be extrapolated to the economy as a whole.

Kare1,

Thank you for giving me a good counter-point. It forced me to think more carefully about my argument. But I think my argument is still correct. Those countries have (or had) many fewer or less burdensome income redistribution policies than the US has. The minimum wage is only one factor, and my contention is that they would have had even more prosperity without their higher minimum wages.

It also depends on if the floor is placed above or below the natural floor that the market sets. I bet that in Hong Kong, very few people would even be offered wages as low as the minimum wage, while in the US people would. So in teh US, the floor is disruptive, while in Hong Kong, the floor is irrelevant.

Posted by: sakalava47 | December 9, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Raising minimum wage would just increase the price of goods. Companies would be forced to raise them, due to the price of production going up. The poor would prosper probably only for a few weeks, if months, and then realize they are back where they started, and are still trying to scratch together money for bread.

Lowering the minimum wage would drive the amount of jobs up, while at the same time, drive the price of goods down. It is all relative.

Lowering the minimum wage would do a lot to a slumping economy, and give the unemployment more work. The price of goods would do down, and with more people working and making money, there would be more goods bought, improving businesses.

Posted by: thecentrist711 | December 9, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Some what relevant: Wikipedia's article on Ireland:

"By the 1980s, underlying economic problems became pronounced... [so...]

Public spending was reduced quickly and taxes cut. Ireland promoted competition in all areas. For instance, Ryanair utilised Ireland's deregulated aviation market and helped European regulators to see benefits of competition in transport markets. The more competitive economy attracted foreign investment quickly. Intel invested in 1989 and was followed by a number of technology companies such as Microsoft and Google, who found Ireland a good investment location. A consensus exists among all government parties about the sustained economic growth.[26]

In less than a decade, the GDP per capita in the OECD prosperity ranking rose from 21st in 1993 to 4th in 2002.[28] Between 1985 and 2002, private sector jobs increased 59%."


Posted by: sakalava47 | December 9, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

I think raising the minimu wage contributes to inflation but how about lowering the MAXimum wage?

CEOs make their average worker yearly salary every day. Lay off a CEO to save a Corp from bankruptcy, they put the Corp in that position in the 1st place!

Posted by: bilyuska | December 9, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Obama administration, and the Congress should consider suspending the minimum wage Laws for a while. The U. S. businesses and workers are in this together. The larger and common goal not only at the Federal, but also at the State and Local government level should be , and evidently is to help the economy. At this time a tax break, relaxation in credit regulations for business, temporarily taking off the books minimum wage Laws, and other relief to businesses will help boost our economy. Major problems provide opportunity for bold and courageous steps , and the U. S. should not hold any actions .

Posted by: dmfarooq | December 9, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Lower the minimum wage?

Ok, but only if those earning minimum wage can eat the rich.

Posted by: jonathan5 | December 9, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Yea, because if employers can pay labor less, they are sure to use that buck or two an hour to hire gazillions of people instead of improving their bottom line. Sure, if you believe in the tooth fairy...Employers hire when demand exceeds the employer's ability to supply with the number of employees at hand. How dumb do you takes us to be?

Posted by: LauraNo | December 9, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

"In less than a decade, the GDP per capita in the OECD prosperity ranking rose from 21st in 1993 to 4th in 2002.[28] Between 1985 and 2002, private sector jobs increased 59%."


Why don't you have a look at Ireland now. A bubble economy that burst and is now in a deep recession.

Quote all the Cato crap you want, it's useless theory that hasn't held up to scrutiny. The middle class is rapidly disappearing while the wiz kids on Wall St. suck in more and more money while wrecking the US economy.

Why did the US economy prosper in the 50s and 60s when there was peak unionization and high marginal tax rates ? According to ridiculous Chicago economic theory it's not possible, but it happened.

Screw the theories and stick to reality.

Posted by: fitzptrk | December 9, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

It's not the wage, it's the time. If a "job" can vary between 20 and 80 hours a week it is not fungible. Yet, all the models presume that low wage jobs are fungible.

Perhaps with all the "Professionals" working seasonal jobs this year, there will be more who get it.

Posted by: gannon_dick | December 9, 2009 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Far more jobs were lost before the minimum wage was raised than since it was raised. This sounds like a red herring that gets trotted out every time there is an increase by people who have jobs and aren't trying to support a family on a minimum wage job (or two).

Why not reduce payroll taxes to let those of fortunate enough to be working to have more spendable income? Let's prime the pump that way instead of taking money away from those on the lowest rungs of the economy.

Posted by: annetta3 | December 10, 2009 1:02 AM | Report abuse

How about printing more money and then distributing it among the states to construct truly monumental public works?

Not only would it provide more jobs, but then the end product, public works projects of grand design made to stand for The Ages and inspire admiration, would stimulate long-term civic pride as well as short-term jobs projects.

Of course, with the increase in employment, those at the lower end of the income scale would not have to suffer a decline in standards when an increase of opportunities in the upper strata of the workforce creates a vacuum in the middle which draws everyone else upward.

That's how WWII made the U.S. a richer country when it was over than it was when it began, and now we all look back at what we did in those days and swell with pride.

Posted by: stephendclark | December 10, 2009 7:18 AM | Report abuse

............Mr. Lane is probably still polishing up his "W" bumper sticker,getting all "warm and fuzzy" over just the mention of druggies like Beck/ Limbaugh, as he perceives economic issues with the insight of such financial giants, as Alzheimer's poster guy,Ronnie (what should we do now Mommy?)raygun's and of course one of histories great economic minds G.Dumbya Bush.....the great village idiot of Crawford Tx.

Posted by: dwarfking1 | December 10, 2009 7:27 AM | Report abuse

printing money is so wrong. inflation much?

Posted by: thecentrist711 | December 10, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Charles Lane is just puffing a bunch of smoke; he has sources and backing. David Neumark predicted the minimum wage increase will help us lose 300,000 jobs. The statistic about the African-American teens does matter, because teens do take up many of the minimum wage jobs. The Employment Policies Institute showed African-American teens unemployment rate rose by more than 50%.

Posted by: jerod1215 | December 11, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if sakalava47 is currently working at a lower minimum wage job?

Posted by: pedjr336 | December 14, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

My son is a college graduate and would love to work at McDonalds or somewhere like that for less then the minimum wage but can't because they aren't hiring. We've got to lower the minimum wage.

Posted by: edstadick | December 15, 2009 10:34 PM | Report abuse

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