Fast Food Workers, the Minimum Wage, and the Demand For a Living Wage


living wage

Photo of the April strike via

Unions are calling for renewed strikes around the country in over 100 cities to demand a $15 an hour wage from fast food restaurants that can hardly afford it, especially with the new Obamacare requirements that will up their costs.

The battle over the minimum wage represents the view that a ‘living wage’ is an entitlement regardless of the skills required to do the job. It is not how we have done business in this country. The idea comes from Karl Marx mainly.

Mises has a good summary of what a ‘living wage’ means.

Marx was the leading proponent of the rule of wages, known as the ‘iron law of wages.’  The rule says that wage rates are determined by the cost of the means of subsistence required for the bare maintenance of the labor force. It is a debunked theory that stems from a belief that control of wages is necessary or there will develop a shortage of laborers and competition among the employers.

The Republican view is that a person is paid for the work s/he does and raising the minimum wage kills jobs. Employers seeking to hire low-skilled workers and who have a low profit margin can hire fewer people when the mandatory wage is raised.

The far-left perspective is based on a Marxist belief that equity requires all wealth be redistributed and shared.

The groups behind the $15 hike demand are far-left and include SEIU, the AFL-CIO, and Move On, et al. They usually exploit minority workers to get their message out. They send out frequent emails of heartwarming and tragic stories about their struggles to survive on minimum wage.

The strikes are staged events as are the emails. A $15 an hour wage is unrealistic but they will push for what they can get.

Heritage, a Conservative think tank, reported on November 22nd that the government has effectively raised the minimum wage to over $10 an hour without benefitting workers. That is thanks to Obamacare which requires employers to provide healthcare to employees who work 30 hours or more a week.

President Obama wants to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour which would in effect raise the wage to $12.71 according to Heritage.  The end result will be lost hours and cut jobs.

By 2015, it will add $2.24 per hour to the minimum wage. Even employers who pay the penalty will lay out $10.30 an hour for each worker. Some employees will cost their employers more than $10.30 an hour. By 2016, $13.27 per hour will be the ‘real’ minimum.

We can expect to see more automation, replacing workers completely.

The fast food workers who are now striking might find themselves out of work completely but they won’t blame the union leaders or the far-left organizations that exploit them. They will blame the rich, the Republicans, and, undoubtedly, the Tea Party for being so heartless as to not wanting them to receive a ‘living wage.’

I do believe it is important to make certain companies do not exploit workers but who is really exploiting them in this situation? At some point, one has to recognize that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions and reality is a tough task master.