Equal is Unfair

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I have my own personal thoughts and feelings when it comes to politics, but I usually don’t express them publicly too much because the debates that can arise from them can drive me crazy and there’s usually no way of coming out ahead. But Equal Is Unfair: America’s Misguided Fight Against Income Inequality by Don Watkins and Aaron Brook got me thinking about something I decided is worth spending some time reflecting on.  The authors share a number of ideas that I would tend to agree with and I can imagine could start some heated debates, but I’ll leave it to you to read the book and decide if you agree or disagree with their opinions.
Until six months ago I’ve lived my entire life in Alberta, Canada. In my mind it was the greatest province in the country for an entrepreneur. Not everything was perfect there but it was pretty dang good. But last year a new government was voted in and with many of the initiatives they have been implementing I feel they are anti-business and anti-entrepreneurship.
I was invited to a meeting with a number of other business owner and the new Minister of Finance, Joe Ceci. There have been many more hot topics since this meeting, but at the time the hot topic was the governments proposal to hike minimum wage to $15/hour (In 2015 it was raised from $10.20/hour to $11.20/hour). The frustration came from the minister’s ignorance to the facts. Not all businesses are highly profitable. Not all businesses have high profit margins. As business owners sat in that meeting and told the minister if minimum wage was to raise to $15/hour they would have to raise their prices he told us that a minimum wage increase would not raise prices. He also told us that a hike in minimum wage would not increase unemployment.  When I listen to the business owners state the opposite I tend to believe them, but we will have to wait and see the outcome.
Many of the business people at this meeting were restaurant owners who typically hire minimum wage workers. I have never been involved in the restaurant business, but today I found this on Reference.com
Profit margins are typically low for restaurants in general and especially for restaurants owned by individual franchisees. The average profit margin for the restaurant industry overall is 2.4 percent, as of 2013. The margin is down from 3.2 percent in 2009. The average franchised restaurant location makes a profit of less than $50,000 per year as of 2013. Opening a franchised restaurant with an established brand sometimes costs as much as $500,000.
Many who support such a hike argue against the “greedy business owners.” However, if I were a franchise owner that invested $500,000 to open by business and I was making less than $50,000 per year, such a significant minimum wage hike would be very tough to swallow.
Here are some ideas shared in Equal Is Unfair: America’s Misguided Fight Against Income Inequality on this topic. Again, I’m not trying to create a debate here, these are just my thoughts. But it’s a good book to read if you are interested in this topic or any of the other inequality topics that seem to be on the rise.
  • A government mandated minimum wage prevents people from deciding for themselves what pay to accept. If a person cannot find an employer that will hire them at the minimum wage level, they are legally barred from accepting a lower paying job.
  • A raise in minimum wage will raise the pay of some workers but stop others from working all together.
  • The biggest victims of a minimum wage increase are the lowest skilled workers. When minimum wage increases, higher skilled workers will now compete for jobs that previously we too low paying.
  • It hurts businesses
    • Many will hire fewer employees. We already see many fast food restaurants automating their services to reduce the number of employees needed so that they can stay in business.
    • Many will reduce perks and benefits
    • Some will simply have to go out of business

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Have you read the book? Thoughts?

Fortune

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