Florida To Impose Job-Slaughtering $15 Per Hour Minimum Wage, Portland, ME, Does Them One Worse: Makes It $18

P. Gardner Goldsmith | November 10, 2020

Perhaps no other “boiling frog” issue exemplifies the unethical behavior of government than the media-heralded, sheeple-applauded, political pandering of so-called “minimum wage” mandates.

Among vast swaths of the populace, even the term itself is blithely accepted, used in everyday parlance, never questioned, never seen for the unconstitutional threat of state violence it is – and don’t even bother mentioning the number of Americans who embrace the economically unsound idea that such statutes “help” the poor and unskilled.

So, when politicians move to “raise” the “minimum wage” mandated on peaceful people, it’s an opportunity to not only expose the dangers of dictating to others how they will buy or sell services, time, and products, it’s a chance to remember how immoral the action is.

The state of Florida is a great example – and an example that, as we will see, has been eclipsed by misguided Americans to the north, in Portland, Maine.

As Brad Polumbo reports for The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), 61 percent of Floridians who “voted” on the issue just told the government of Florida to mandate that nearly all businesses in the state raise wages from the current minimum of $8.56 to $15 per hour by 2026.

It sure is great to see how “voting” helps people hide their predation and aggression. Want to threaten someone? Don’t do it directly. Just “vote” for the government to do it, and it’s a-okay.

Polumbo notes:

Critics warn the hike will kill jobs. Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association President Carol Dover, who lobbied against the initiative, said it ‘has a lot of feel-good appeal’ but says that ‘behind all the warm and fuzzies lie a plethora of unintended consequences.’

Precisely right. The minimum wage is an excellent topic to open a window onto how ethics and economics work. Dover adds:

The most obvious solutions include reducing the number of employees, reducing the number of hours remaining employees work and seeking labor alternatives like automation.

Hold on now. Aren’t minimum wage mandates good?

Certainly, the collectivists in increasingly collectivist Portland, Maine, seem to think so.

In a separate report for FEE, Jon Miltimore sheds light on Portland’s new excursion into economic fascism – which is defined as the nominal (in name only) ownership of business that is dictated to by government:

While Florida, which on Tuesday passed a $15 an hour minimum wage referendum, was the only state to have the minimum wage on the ballot in 2020, some localities also voted on the issue.

Welcome to Portland…

One of those cities was Portland, the largest city in Maine. The referendum sought to increase the minimum wage from $12 an hour to $15 by 2024. The measure also mandated that workers receive time and a half during a civil emergency (like, say, a pandemic).

Yep. The Portland minimum wage mandate will compel business owners, employees, and consumers to try to manage a political dictate spiking-up the cost of labor as early as next month.

Despite opposition from the city’s mayor, seven members of the city council, and dozens of Portland businesses, the measure passed with 60 percent of the vote. That means as early as next month the minimum wage will be $18 an hour, since Maine has declared a civil emergency. (The time-and-a-half will kick in on the $12 minimum wage.)

Which is a really bad idea.

Business owners and their employees already have been slammed by Governor Janet Mills’ Coronavirus Crackdowns, travel bans, and mask mandates.

’In the last 7 months business has dropped from 30 to 50 percent and food costs have skyrocketed. This added increase on a business already depressed due to the pandemic is tough,’ one Portland business owner who declined to speak on camera told WCSH, an NBC-affiliate. ‘We may have to either cut employee hours or cut back on business hours.’

But hold on now. That kind of response must be a result of the “evil,” wicked business owners. It can’t be a natural result of politicians messing with market valuation of human resources and consumer choice, can it?

Yes, it can, and it is.

As Brad Polumbo observes, political imposition of higher costs leads to decreases in demand:

study from economists at Miami University and Trinity University concluded that the minimum wage hike would lead to 158,000 fewer jobs in Florida. This echoes national research by both the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and the Employment Policies Institute, which found a federal $15 minimum wage would kill millions of jobs nationwide.

And, he adds:

Labor is a product like any other. If the cost of soda was artificially mandated at $10 per can by the government, the simple fact is that consumers would buy less of it. When employers are legally forced to pay more for labor than it is worth in the market, they naturally and inevitably do the same.

The fact is that the idea that potential employees are at some kind of disadvantage and are “exploited” by employers misses the fundamental axiom of trade.

Be it a trade for goods, or a trade for services, we are all consumers. The employer is a consumer of raw materials, and a consumer of the skills the employee can offer. The employee is a consumer of the location, tools, power, and promised paycheck the employer can offer thanks to the employer plunking down investment in all of those (and even promising wages before a company can turn a profit). The "retail" consumer is a participant who is also offering something, and is looking for the best bang for his buck. After all, the entire goal of a productive economy is to get more for one's efforts, not less. The employer, the employee, and the consumer are all TRADING and measuring their gains by engaging in the trade.

Like the employees, the employers are dependent on the consumer, and if the consumer is unwilling to pay a higher rate for something, he or she will turn to an alternative or simply hold onto the cash. Thus, if certain skills the potential employee offers are not worth enough to match what the end-consumer is willing to pay, that potential employee will not have a job. It's as simple as that.

And, of course, employees aren't the only ones who compete. Employers compete for good employees, and they all compete for the consumer's buck. If a good employee doesn't see an offer he or she wants, he or she can go elsewhere, or directly appeal to the "end consumer" and see if the consumer will buy his or her stuff.

Should we tell that end consumer to pay more?

As an easy way to illustrate how this effects employment, let's say you're an artist who can make one sculpture per hour and you find buyers at $10.00 per sculpture. What happens if the government (or a person pushing the government to threaten you) says you can only sell that statue for $15.00? Do you think you'll sell more, or fewer of the statues?

The answer is obvious.

And so is the immorality of minimum wage mandates. It’s important to learn from these stories, and tell others. Our betterment, and betterment of future generations, depends on that.