In Re: $15/hr Minimum Wage

Eve Penman:  Hi.  I'm Eve Penman online, and I just wanted to talk about some of my thoughts on 15-dollar-an-hour minimum wage.  I live in Washington State and this has already happened here in the King County area.  And I saw today that there are plans for strikes going on around the country coming up here for 15-dollar-an-hour minimum wage.  So I just wanted to share some of my questions and thoughts on it.

So, if someone's getting 15-dollar-an-hour minimum wage, I'd like to know how many hours of work they're going to be getting a week; will that be changing?  Does it matter then how much a person makes an hour if their hours go away?

When it comes to making money, does it matter how much a person makes if they cannot manage their money?  Because I don't see how it matters how much a person is making when they don't know how to properly manage their money.  I've come from courts and I've seen people with great amounts of money and they don't know how to manage it.  So how can $15 an hour guarantee that now these workers will have everything they need and they can instantly manage their money?

I'm also curious to know where the $15 an hour is coming from.  Is this being taken out of CEOs' paychecks?  I highly doubt it.  It's going to be coming from the consumers who are going to have to go and spend more money to buy what they were buying just a few weeks prior.  So, I don't know how that will necessarily help the workers when now they're only really reaming it to their consumers, the person they're serving.  Doesn't make much sense in my mind.

And kind of one of the bigger issues I think about when it comes to $15 an hour minimum wage is, I'm curious about what is the risk to fast food workers?  Now, I came from a career where there was a lot of risk to it; you miss a word, you could go and get fired because somebody didn't like the transcript.  It does happen, it can happen.  But what is the risk to a fast food worker?  Do they have malpractice insurance?  Do they have to have continuing education every year that the State checks off on to make sure you're up to snuff on your burger flipping?  What's the liability coverage that employees have to have in order to serve a burger?

Do employees in a fast food restaurant risk getting sued by having those jobs?  Right now there are constantly lawsuits going on against fast food companies and those corporations because there's something found in the food or somebody's not happy, somebody made a complaint.  And, so, I do not know what happens in those cases.  Does anyone know?  Are any workers getting fired when a corporate chain is sued?  I don't know, but if somebody has an answer that'd be great.

I'm curious to know, can these fast food workers at $15 an hour, are they going to start getting subpoenaed if somebody's not happy and the company's getting sued?  What is the risk to these workers if they're going to be getting paid $15 an hour?  What?  That's where wages come from a lot of it, the risk a person is choosing to take on to get a job done.

Another thing where wages come from is the economics of supply and demand.  I'm no expert, but I have read a lot of books by experts and I've taken them down on the record.  From my understanding, a high supply of workers does not dictate higher wages.  That's not the demand and supply that they're talking about here.  The demand of goods, a high demand of goods dictates higher wages especially when there's a low supply of workers.

For instance, let's look to the Bakken oil fields which is going on and has been going on for a good few years.  While I worked in Montana I heard it talked about very often what people were getting paid to work as fast food workers.  I heard talk that fast food companies in Williston, North Dakota, in the Bakken oil field areas, they were having to outsource the jobs of being a teller at a fast food service.  So they actually had somebody down in Texas or somewhere else taking the order while the workers there in North Dakota are processing the food.  That's how desperate they are for workers there.  So I researched it, very easily on Google, and sure enough, just this last June of 2014, an article by Kate Little called 'Boom helps fast-food workers bring home the Bakken,' and a Williston, North Dakota, Hardee's owner mentions that his crew level workers are bringing home $13 to $15 an hour.

So, my suggestion is if people want $15 an hour, leave the overcrowded cities where there's a high supply of workers and go where workers are needed.  Sometimes that's what you have to do in life; you have to pick your ass up and move.  That's what I did and it made me a lot happier of a person.  If you want to sit in the cities and be miserable and demand $15 an hour which won't solve anything, you can do that too, but if you really want to make a change you might have to be the one to make the change in your own life by getting up and doing something other than voting and protesting.  I mean, if that worked would we be here?  I don't know.

One of my concerns though is that, you know, I'm not against making money.  Because everybody thinks -- not everybody, but there's a great consensus out there that if you're against $15 an hour, you're against people making money, and that is not the case at all.

What I am against is government bureaucrats dictating how much people can make.  Because what is that solving?  What is it going to solve if this group of individuals is now making $15 an hour?  What's that going to do to the cost of living elsewhere?  What else is going to go up?  Because first it was just King County, Washington, $15 an hour; now everybody wants it across the country.

And then what's it going to be?  So fast food workers want $15 an hour.  Does that mean the minimum wage person who isn't in fast food doesn't deserve $15 an hour?  When are they going to demand their $15 an hour, and where is that $15 an hour going to come from?  So it's not a solution.  It's just a perpetuation of this nightmare, I don't know what it is, that is now the American system.  I don't get it, personally.

But I do want to finish with one of my favorite quotes from Friedrich Hayek, an Austrian economist.  "Economic control is not merely control of a sector of human life which can be separated from the rest; it is the control of the means for all our ends."

To control the economy is to control human life, and that is my greater concern with what is going on in this stuff.  Of course there's always solutions, but, for me, personally, it is not going to the polls to ask non-representatives to not do their jobs more.  Because that's all they seem to do is not do their jobs.

My thoughts personally are why not look at what government did years and years ago; they opened up land for people to get out of the cities, they opened up land so people could go and start producing on the land.  And what really needs to happen more than anything, not just letting people have land and I don't think that's the solution necessarily; more the idea of leaving crowded areas and going where workers are needed, that's a solution in my mind, one solution.

The other solution in my mind, another possible one, is for government to drop restrictions on business and workers, and anyone who just wants to try to make a way in this world.  Right now, it is incredibly ridiculous, especially in Washington State if you want to be an independent worker, independent contractor, freelancer, business owner, anything.  There's so much red tape.  I don't know about all 50 states, I can only speak to the couple that I've lived in, but it is a sad state of affairs when you go in the hole to set up a business instead of being able to create a business without going broke first.

And that is probably one reason why so many people become employees is the ability to do it yourself is not what it once was, so it's easier to be an employee.  But, then again, I don't know if it's really all that easy.  Nothing's really easy in this world.

But anyway, those are my thoughts on 15-dollar-an-hour minimum wage.  Maybe some other people can answer these questions I have as far as how many hours of work will people continue to get?  If you can't manage money, does it matter how much money you make?  And will this really solve anything; do people think $15 an hour minimum wage will solve the problems all these people are saying they have?

I'm also curious:  $15 an hour minimum wage, does that mean those employees will still continue to get all the benefits that those employers pay for?  I mean, gosh, that's a pretty good deal on top of that.  $15 an hour minimum wage and then you get benefits on top of that?  Holy cow.  As a self-employed individual, I won't tell you what benefits cost, most people don't have them because they cost a lot.  So take advantage of those benefits if you're a fortunate employee.

And during this Great Recession, if you have work, be thankful for it.  You know, I'm just amazed.  Work is very hard to come by in many places and yet some people are just willing to say, "Screw this, we'll walk away from it."  Maybe it's a sign of the times, maybe it's what needs to happen, I have no clue, but it's interesting times we're living in.

And I'm curious to know what other people think of $15 an hour minimum wage; if they think it's a solution, if they think it's a problem, if they think there might be a better solution out there?  What else can there be besides just upping the minimum wage to make things work?  Anybody got an idea?  I'd like to hear it.  Thanks.

Transcripts by Eve