During the progressive era, there was a movement among progressives to create a wage structure within the nation. A minimum wage. Their desire for this arbitrary sum assigned to the cost or value of labor had a particular purpose.
They knew that by using government to make labor more expensive, it would result in fewer jobs. It would price out unskilled labor. And it would keep “undesirable” people (primarily immigrants and blacks) from finding employment.
The minimum wage was (and still is) a form of social engineering seized upon by early eugenicists. The goal was to deny opportunities to low and unskilled workers by making them unemployable. Employers would be forced to hire more-skilled labor first at higher rates of pay; people who would deliver more productivity to match the cost of that labor and make up for the decrease in available jobs created by the minimum wage.
It still does that.
And even without any of the eugenic-social-engineering or racist undertones of early progressives in play it still yanks the ladder up and out of reach, denying low and unskilled labor the opportunity to find a job.
But it does more than keep them out of work. It denies low or unskilled workers the opportunity to understand what it is like to be in a workplace. To learn on the job. To make connections with co-workers, managers, or vendors. To feel the sense of purpose that having somewhere to go and something to do brings to a person. It denies them the opportunity to excel and work beyond their wage to acquire new skills. Abilities that advance them up the wage scale through hard work and perseverance.
To learn how a business operates or to interact with the public in a commercial or retail environment. Learn to handle their own finances and establish a personal budget; all things that go way beyond the simplistic value of a rate of pay per hour.
People obsessed with the minimum wage as the defining value of a job are just as narrow-minded as the eugenicists from the progressive era who saw an artificial increase in the cost of labor as a way to weed out those that they considered undesirable elements of the populace.
That is not to say that the progressives of our day are racists or looking to deny people opportunity. But that is the effect of their policy whether they are willing to admit that or not. And they do not need to accept my observations as proof.
The progressives of today are standing on the ideological shoulders of those who seized on the minimum wage as a way to punish low and unskilled workers by denying them jobs. All, in an effort to breed them out of existence. It was prejudicial, bigoted, elitist, and racist.
So modern-day good intentions, real or imagined, are irrelevant. Arbitrarily raising the value of labor by increasing the minimum wage reduces employment. It prevents opportunity. And it overwhelmingly affects blacks, immigrants, low-income families, and young people, by keeping them idle and making them unemployable.
If you intend to keep them idle for whatever treacherous purpose now or in the future, then your minimum wage increase scheme is what the ideology ordered. You’ll have expanded upon a ready-made army of disgruntled future rioters for an inevitable reenactment of the riots in ‘Greece,’ just closer to home.
If, on the other hand, you have a genuine interest in helping them find work, learn skills, and become productive members of society, then raising the minimum wage is an empty gesture and will produce the exact opposite results. Don’t do it.