By William Reed
Some phones were ringing; others were on hold as Real Christian Radio’s host was well into his 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. program set. The subject was “Is minimum wage enough to live on?” and syndicated radio personality Lonnie Hunter’s job was letting the audience “have their say” on the issue.
Actually, the subject had come up earlier on “The Yolanda Adams Morning Show” when the show’s co-host asked listeners to “speak up” let him know whether minimum wage “is a livable wage” and could they survive on $7.25 an hour. All morning long stations in the “Praise” network urged listeners to: “Say what you want to say” about whether minimum wage is a livable wage.
So, as they say in the business, the subject “already had legs” by the time Hunter stepped to the microphone. Christian Radio’s midday host Hunter is a minister, musician, artist and producer who got misled into taking an “on air” position advocating flawed economic concepts. Sadly, Hunter doesn’t know, or see, the socialist philosophy the issue is based upon. Though he never cited himself as an economist, but amid the tweets, Facebook messages and contest challenges, the high audience involvement Hunter achieved that day, was based on bogus subject matter and theme.
The whole idea and discussion of wage legislation is politics run amuck. Many liberals, still widely accept the view that minimum wage laws are needed to provide the working poor with a fair wage. Hunter unwittingly took sides in a misguided issue that labor unions have been pushing for years. People proposing minimum wage legislation have the rose-colored glasses’ view of government that promotes redistribution of wealth and marketplace intervention.
Labor unions have held lofty status in the Black political agenda of recent years. Supporters of the minimum wage claim it increases the standard of living of workers, reduces poverty, reduces inequality and boosts morale. Actually, such rules and legislation increase poverty and unemployment. Sixty percent of the jobs lost in the last recession were middle income. Most new positions are in expanding low-wage industries such as retail, food services, cleaning and health-care support. By 2020, 48 percent of jobs will be in those service sectors.
The economic evidence shows Blacks haven’t yet mastered capitalism. Most show a gross lack of understanding of how it works. An example of our participation in misguided social engineering goes back to Chicago in 2006 when the Chicago City Council rejected a proposal from Wal-Mart to open a store on the South Side. Subsequently, that Council approved an ordinance requiring Wal-Mart and other “Big-Box” stores to pay much higher minimum wages than their competitors. All to which Chicago unions and community groups cheered, not fully grasping the fact that such targeted legislation tarnishes a city’s reputation as a place to do business.
A free market economic system is one in which prices and wages are determined by unrestricted competition between businesses, without government interference. Politicians in the nation’s capital moved to center stage buffoonery with a new “minimum wage” chicanery. The D.C. Council has moved to raise the local minimum wage for employees at major retailers and requiring “Big-Box” stores to pay their employees 50 percent more than the existing District minimum wage. At its core, the City Council measure is all a plot to tell the world’s largest retailer “how it should operate.” The “Large Retailer Accountability Act of 2013,” would require retailers with more than $1 billion in annual revenues to pay employees making less than $50,000 a year at least $12.50 per hour. D.C.’s minimum wage is $8.25 per hour.
The belief that increasing the minimum wage is socially beneficial is a delusion Blacks need to delete from their economic lexicon. It’s time such buffoonery ceases and Blacks think and act in ways that illustrate a realization of where we live and work – an economic and political system in which trade and industry are based on private ownership for profit. “Minimum wage” is antithetical to how “laissez-faire” works.
William Reed is head of the Business Exchange Network and available for speaking/seminar projects through the Bailey Group.org.