As I was reading a Detroit News op-ed about raising the minimum wage this morning (Eclectablog motto: “we do it so you don’t have to”), I was, of course, unsurprised to see them advising House legislators to reject the bill passed by the Senate to raise the minimum wage to $9.20 by 2017. According to them, “the Senate bill isn’t much better than the alternative of allowing the issue to go to the ballot”. In fact, if the original ballot proposal language hadn’t been changed shortly after it was approved, it would be almost identical since the original proposal was $9.50 by 2016.
Nor was I surprised to see them calling for House legislators to at least remove the provision that indexes the minimum wage to inflation because Goddess forbid that our working poor citizens get the chance to at least keep up when the value of the pittance they make goes down.
What surprised me — though, admittedly, it shouldn’t have — was this statement:
According to the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, a business with 40 full-time minimum wage workers would face extra costs of approximately $160,000 per year in payroll expenses, plus higher state and federal unemployment taxes, payroll taxes and workers’ compensation fees.
The comment is tossed out as if it’s entirely normal and acceptable to run a business employing 40 people at full-time and pay them no more than the minimum wage. Consider that for just a moment. This would be a business that would be operating with what is a effectively a $160,000 subsidy from taxpayers who foot the bill for the food stamps and other social welfare programs that are utilized by 40 adults working for minimum wage. That’s a tax on Michigan taxpayers and a stealth business subsidy because no adult can live on the wages of a 40-hour minimum wage job. And don’t tell me this is all high school kids because no high school kid is working 40 hours a week.
This is the model that the Chamber of Commerce, a corporatist-funded and corporatist-run group wants for Michigan and for the rest of the country: a state where it’s considered okay to run a business paying 40 adults poverty wages.
This is insidious framing, designed to make us say, “Wow! Won’t somebody consider the poor small business owner who will take a $160,000 a year hit?!” The fact is no business should be run using that model because the rest of us are effectively subsidizing their payroll without our permission.
And that’s no way to run ANY business.