One of the common “causes” of liberals/progressives/Democrats is the minimum wage. Recent developments in Congress as well as several states have mandated raises in the minimum wage. The argument for this legislation is that the minimum wage is too low to be a “living wage”, and that we need a minimum wage to prevent evil, greedy corporations from paying people $1.25 an hour; the argument against is that people earning minimum wage are by and large teenagers living at home with their parents, and that enforcing a minimum wage is superfluous in a country with a free market system.
This story is a case in point to illustrate how the free market works:
Peruvian Ivan Arias said he was happy just to have a job when he came to New York and found himself working as a busboy at the Redeye Grill, an eatery in midtown Manhattan where eight of its signature “dancing shrimp” cost $39.
But Arias, 36, said he soon realized he was being cheated out of overtime, breaks and promotions, and denied a fair share of tips.
“The conditions were not OK. They did not pay me tips. They did not pay me overtime,” Arias told Reuters.
Arias, married with a young daughter, now works as a busboy at Craftbar, an offshoot of one of the citys top restaurants, Craft. Whereas at the Redeye Grill he earned $400 for up to 60 hours a week, he now earns around $600 for 35 to 40 hours, he said.
“Now I am happy, with my tips, with my check, every time,” he said.
If left alone by legislators, the free market works: people will leave low-paying jobs with poor benefits for higher-paying jobs with better benefits. To stay competitive (and thus, stay in business), companies need to have a skilled and motivated workforce, and in order to attract top talent, companies need pay and benefits that attract — and keep — this talent.
Federal — and state — interference in the free market hurts everyone. Rather than a rising tide lifting all boats, governmental interference in the free market results in sinking all boats in the name of equality.