I’ve been reading op-ed pieces in The Tennessean concerning the proposal to raise the minimum wage in Tennessee, and I am dismayed at both the utter lack of business sense and logical ability of those writing these pieces. I first read a letter to the editor from a woman who compared raising the minimum wage to Henry Ford’s policy of paying his workers a wage that would allow them to buy his cars. There is a very distinct difference between a business owner making the informed decision to pay his workers a fair wage and the government forcing him to do so…and this is a distinction the author clearly did not see. Today I read that arguments against the minimum wage increase were “shallow” and unpersuasive. What this writer failed to mention is probably the most persuasive argument against the increase (I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he has simply not heard this argument, despite the fact that it is a favorite of those of us who oppose the increase and has been presented on talk radio shows across the state…)

The major reason that many of us oppose the minimum wage increase, in addition to the fear that we will be running businesses out of the state, is that business owners do not merely “eat” the cost of increased wages. If business owners are forced to increase wages, they are simply going to pass those costs on to the consumer. Keep in mind that many low wage jobs are in sectors of business that provide things like groceries, agricultural goods, and the like. So, while we’re trying to help out the lowest wage earners in the state we are actually hurting them by forcing business to increase prices in order to cover their losses. What good is $7 an hour if milk is $5 a gallon?

I certainly don’t want people – especially those who are actually working for a living – to live in poverty. But the solution is not to pass the burden on to the private sector. What needs to happen is an effort by our government to decrease the tax burden. How much further would a minimum wage income go if business owners did not suffer under such burdensome tax responsibilities and if workers actually brought home their entire paycheck (here’s my plug for the fairtax…www.fairtax.org)

This minimum wage increase is not founded in actual goodwill toward those who are working for low wages. It is really an attempt to give the appearance of helping those poor, unfortunate souls of the lower class without actually having to make any sacrifices to help them. If our government would cut spending and lower taxes, private business owners would raise wages in order to attract higher quality workers – it’s simply good business sense to operate in this way. As it stands, however, they are unable to do so, and any attempt to force the hand of the business sector will merely result in price increases.

Keep in mind that this is an election year, and the Democrats are desperate for the votes from those in the lower class (those very same people who were most hurt by the TennCare debacle…) So do not be fooled by a government that gives the impression of helpfulness. In the words of the great Ronald Reagan, “The nine scariest words in the English language are, ‘ I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'”

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