I’m caught somewhere between amusement and terror. Michelle Bachmann, one of the leading candidates for president of the U.S., said in a campaign stop in Florida that she would consider lowering the minimum wage to help compete with overseas jobs. Maybe if we work at it, we can become another Vietnam or Thailand.
There are other hints that this country is slipping down a notch, certainly not toward becoming one of the third world nations that has stolen our jobs (corporations are becoming much wealthier by using overseas labor), but maybe toward the second world.
There seems to be a desire by many politicians to return to the good old days of a hundred years ago when the dichotomy between rich and poor was great. If we can just lower the minimum wage – the minimum! – those workers on the lower end will somehow be better.
The paradox will become evident at the ballot box when millions of these lower end people will vote for Bachmann (or whoever makes the final cut) because she will have said something about Obama taking away their guns or Obama wanting more abortions.
The Economic Policy Institute explains why lowering the minimum wage is a mistake, in its opinion>:
Lately, opponents of the minimum wage have suggested that decreasing it would help to boost employment. This is a terrible idea for a variety of reasons. First, the minimum wage is not high by historical standards – today, the real value of the minimum wage is less than what it was from 1961 to 1981. Second, research on the disemployment effects of the minimum wage give mixed results – many indicate that a small change to the minimum wage would have no impact on employment. Furthermore, even if there is a disemployment effect, it is small and far outweighed by the fact that low-wage workers on average will see a net benefit from most minimum wage increases (Shierholz 2009). Finally, one of the biggest problems during a recession is the decrease in consumer demand – when consumers cut back on spending, employers respond by cutting back on jobs. Reducing the wages of already low-wage workers will only make this problem worse, and will hurt those who are least well off.