Washington Post    January 4, 2007

The Right Minimum Wage
[reproduced at www.solami.com/capitalism.htm#Wage]

A federal minimum wage is an idea whose time came in 1938, when public confidence in markets was at a nadir and the federal government's confidence in itself was at an apogee. This, in spite of the fact that with 19 percent unemployment and the economy contracting by 6.2 percent in 1938, the New Deal's frenetic attempts had failed to end, and perhaps had prolonged, the Depression.... - By George F. Will
[NYT, Jan 5, 2006: "On Jan. 5, 1914, Henry Ford, head of the Ford Motor Company, introduced a minimum wage scale of $5 per day. "]

Comments

George, if only you were as outraged by the CEO of Home Depot receiving that obscene goodby gift. How many good employees of that company could have gotten a raise instead of that bum who ran the outfit into the ground. How is it that CEOs always deserve their pay, according to their friends on the board, but the janitor is overpaid is he gets another 80 bucks a week? But of course the janitor is usually an illegal who is glad to get less than minimum, so it will all work out. People like you wont be happy until we are like Mexico, with real peons to live in huts and live on beans and corn, while the one percent live in their mansions and eat caviar.
By harpercarol | Jan 4, 2007 12:39:54 AM | Request Removal

George Wills arguments on this issue are unimpressive. Demand for labor is, in fact, highly inelastic. And according to the economic policy institute, many more workers will benefit from a wage hike than George Will evidently believes. Here is an excellent website:
By danielj1 | Jan 4, 2007 12:46:38 AM | Request Removal

For some reason the website is not showing up on the post. Just google minimum wage and read the policy statement of the fifth website down on the list.
By danielj1 | Jan 4, 2007 12:49:01 AM | Request Removal
 

ah the good times george, when some people owned others as commodities. surely, it was a better idea for some than others. if the post didnt believe in overpaying for the names of its self-important columnists, you might rethink the notion that people are just commodities to be sold to the lowest bidder.
By jurisic.pedja | Jan 4, 2007 12:50:04 AM | Request Removal

Labor is not a commodity, Mr. Will. It is the human factor that you choose to ignore in your wonderful, flawless economic models. The consitution makes it the priority of the government to assure that all Americans are able to pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. A minimum wage of $0 might make sense for the folks at Wal-Mart and Halliburton, but it doesnt make sense for America, her hopes, and her ultimate goals. There are 300 million Americans... as of a few weeks ago. The constitution, which you quote in your article, is there to protect all of them... not the 300 richest, Mr. Will.
By pennywinkle | Jan 4, 2007 12:51:13 AM | Request Removal

ah the good times george, when some people owned others as commodities. surely, it was a better idea for some than others. if the post didnt believe in overpaying for the names of its self-important columnists, you might rethink the notion that people are just commodities to be sold to the lowest bidder.
By jurisic.pedja | Jan 4, 2007 12:51:37 AM | Request Removal

Could your tone be any more incendiary? Surely this was written to inflame. I am not sure I am proud that Americans failed to respond, as the temptation to stand up for the little guy is quite compelling. Are you so removed from the American worker that you can honestly describe them as a commodity? Do you know how depressing it is to work for even $10.00 an hour? Of course not. I dare you to take a journey into reality. Go out, get a $10.00 an hour job and live on it for a year. Pay rent, a car payment forget car insurance, you would have to be uninsured by default, food, medical, and clothing. Make a documentary of your experience. Call it Big Short End of the Shtick. I know you can sell it to CNN and probably rake in the dough as a Comcast DVR Movie. Super Size Me” made a profit. I dare you. I bet you couldn’t live on a $400 gross income budget for a week! Have some compassion in your writing, please.
By sonjapoet12 | Jan 4, 2007 12:53:13 AM | Request Removal

Mr. Will, as a conservative I would expect these views as consistent with your basic philosophy in the role of government. Let us extend your hands off the controls approach to the Federal Reserve. Shouldnt the government allow supply and demand to drive the cost of money too? There are many similar arguments that can be made, and you probably have heard most of them already. There is a hidden cost of poverty, Sir. You see it on the streets of D.C. everytime a homeless person asks for a handout. Many people choose to see no poverty, it is there none-the-less. Your model relies heavily on good citizenship from the level of an individual up to the Boards of major international corporations. That good citizenship is the exception, not the rule anymore Mr. Will. Without it, your conservative philosophy begins to fail, badly. Regards.
By Frozen1 | Jan 4, 2007 1:08:45 AM | Request Removal

Id like to agree with Mr. Wills reasoned and consistent opinion, but in writing such an inside-the-beltway nerd article he overlooks an important aspect of the minimum wage: that it creates an important baseline for hourly wages and salaries across the board. A minimum wage reflects an average cost of living and defines a base value for American workers time. In a period when the income gap is ever widening, and where companies are under great pressure to keep all costs extremely low, creating a common understanding of a generic persons basic time value benefits many workers, especially younger or less-skilled employees with limited bargaining power.
By rolmaz | Jan 4, 2007 1:18:03 AM | Request Removal

Will seems to be looking for ways to reduce the *surplus population*...perhaps he yearns to bring back the *Poor Houses* of yesteryear. Dont expect compassion or understanding from Will, he divorced/dumped his wife because she gave birth to a child with Down Syndrome. Nice guy, eh?
By munkle | Jan 4, 2007 1:18:17 AM | Request Removal

Id like to agree with Mr. Wills reasoned and consistent opinion, but in writing such an inside-the-beltway nerd article he overlooks an important aspect of the minimum wage: that it creates an important baseline for hourly wages and salaries across the board. A minimum wage reflects an average cost of living and defines a base value for American workers time. In a period when the income gap is ever widening, and where companies are under great pressure to keep all costs extremely low, creating a common understanding of a generic persons basic time value benefits many workers, especially younger or less-skilled employees with limited bargaining power.
By rolmaz | Jan 4, 2007 1:23:23 AM | Request Removal

While were at it George why is it that we have to put up with Mexicans getting fat and happy making $4hr picking tomatoes. Surely we can import starving Africans who will be very glad to work 10hr a day for a bowl of rice. To pay any more than the absolute lowest possible compensation apparently is stealing from the capitalists.
By markswisshelm | Jan 4, 2007 1:41:44 AM | Request Removal

Mr. Will likes to think of labor as a commodity and that government should cease meddling. I challenge him to go all the way -- support no minimum wage and support workers rights to organize and negotiate for their wages. Our government has severely restricted the freedom of workers to collectively bargain for their wages. If Mr Will truly believes his argument, he should be all for the rights of workers to organize. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that he would find some flimsy rationalization to avoid intellectual honesty.
By mccalltd | Jan 4, 2007 1:43:19 AM | Request Removal

Why dont you set the maximum wage at $0. Slave labor is what you Republicans want.
By bushsucks | Jan 4, 2007 1:44:01 AM | Request Removal

When was the last time George Will had an idea, let alone a good one?
By ifthethunderdontgetya | Jan 4, 2007 1:48:46 AM | Request Removal

Munkie: I believe they call us unnessary eaters. Sad. At what point does compassion become compromised in the soul of a man? Even today, blind loyalists follow dispassionate leaders, otherwise they would never arise to lead, right? Read the article published by Catholic World News by doing a Yahoo search for unnecessary eaters or go to the world wide website: cwnews.com slash news slash viewstory.cfm?recnum=21038
By sonjapoet12 | Jan 4, 2007 1:59:42 AM | Request Removal

Here is the conclusion of that article........And where are we now, more than 50 years after the defeat of Nazism? In her penetrating biography of Albert Speer, Gitta Sereny asks a contemporary of Speer for his views on euthanasia. The mans name was Theo Hupfauer and in 1941 he was commandant of the Ordensberg Sonthofen, an elite college for Nazi political education on whose curriculum racial hygiene and the Volksgemeinschaft would have featured prominently. His reponse suggests that, in his view, the West is merely adopting those same ideas. He said: Euthanasia, Im not against it. You can see that the whole world is slowly moving in that direction now. The question is only how and to what degree. Is there really such a difference between the early pregnancy tests done as a matter of routine with the idea of termination if the fetus is abnormal, not to mention the number of abortions now being performed for all sorts of reasons, and what was done here in Germany forty years ago?
By sonjapoet12 | Jan 4, 2007 2:01:06 AM | Request Removal

Nothing like a well written, faith based neocon economics lesson to start the day off wrong. Glad I was still on the pot when I read this load of pompous crap! Glad to see Will finally admitted to what he is truly worth in the job market, *the minimum wage should be the same everywhere: $0.*
By kevinschmidt | Jan 4, 2007 2:16:10 AM | Request Removal

Question for you, George Will: Have you ever worked for the minimum wage? Do Republican Congresspeople earning at least $100K a year, work for the minimum wage? Have they ever done as such? As President Truman put it, If you want to live like a Republican, vote for the Democrats. I concur that raising the minimum wage is somewhat symbolic. That said, if you consider how CEOs salaries have increased exponentially during the past few decades, giving a raise for people who actually work, isnt such a bad idea. Hey, if nothing else, it ensures that the working class will be exploited less than it already is. Dont expect rightwing-extremist millionaire/billionaire Republicans to be advocates for anyone except themselves. Case closed.
By con_crusher | Jan 4, 2007 2:39:36 AM | Request Removal

Mr. Will, a minimum wage of $0 - while it would make many companies very happy - would actually be a disaster, as prices and costs of living would not immediately jump down to reflect the neo-con Utopian dream. It is elastic, and the cost of living would eventually drop to meet the lower wages, but we would have some MAJORLY poor, bankrupt people by the time costs mirrored reality.
By kamyar.jalali | Jan 4, 2007 2:42:06 AM | Request Removal

At last, the public mask of modern conservatism is ripped off and its true face is made known: what true conservatives desire is to force the lower classes to return to the horrid working conditions of the early 1930s. Let us ignore, for the moment, the characterization of American labor as a mere commodity, which this nation rightly rejected once and for all in the 1860s as an abhorrent moral framework. Let us even ignore the fact that the demand for minimum wage labor is much more inelastic than he claims in his column: floors will still need to be mopped, garbage collected and burgers flipped regardless of what the minimum wage is set to - these jobs cannot be outsourced. What George Will purposefully neglects to realize is that unlike all other commodities, the flow of labor is not free. Due to national laws on immigration, an American worker cannot move to a country with the lowest wage even if he was willing to accept the lower standard of living. No, what George Will and his ilk propose for the American working class is to accelerate the race to the bottom by taking the brakes out of the car.
By pokemon | Jan 4, 2007 2:44:32 AM | Request Removal

George Will seems to forget that there are people who make more than $5.15 per hour but less than $7.25 per hour. These individuals would also see a raise. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, they account for 7.7 million workers far more than Wills number 600,000. Among these individuals, more than half are over the age of 25.
By mcmandelberg | Jan 4, 2007 2:46:49 AM | Request Removal

Question for you, George Will: Have you ever worked for the minimum wage? Do Republican Congresspeople earning at least $100K a year, work for the minimum wage? Have they ever done as such? As President Truman put it, If you want to live like a Republican, vote for the Democrats. I concur that raising the minimum wage is somewhat symbolic. That said, if you consider how CEOs salaries have increased exponentially during the past few decades, giving a raise for people who actually work, isnt such a bad idea. Hey, if nothing else, it ensures that the working class will be exploited less than it already is. Dont expect rightwing-extremist millionaire/billionaire Republicans to be advocates for anyone except themselves. Case closed.
By con_crusher | Jan 4, 2007 3:03:46 AM | Request Removal

A day after its announced that Home Depots CEO will get $210 million for getting fired, Mr. Will writes about the unfairness of the minimum wage. Riiiiight. And when did he start with all the namecalling. It doesnt help your logic, Mr. Will, to label every group that disagrees with you with some kind of negative moniker. Some of us who dont remember the 30s or the 60s still believe its time to raise the minimum wage.
By rudyporter | Jan 4, 2007 3:33:39 AM | Request Removal

Spot on! Those who argue in favor of a minimum wage simply dont understand basic economics. Unfortunately, this argument gets mired in emotions rather than logic and are therefore doomed to see an increase in the minimum wage. Washington needs to stay out of the markets and let them work.
By erasejunk30 | Jan 4, 2007 3:41:13 AM | Request Removal

Spot on! Those who argue in favor of a minimum wage simply dont understand basic economics. Unfortunately, this argument gets mired in emotions rather than logic and are therefore doomed to see an increase in the minimum wage. Washington needs to stay out of the markets and let them work.
By erasejunk30 | Jan 4, 2007 3:42:16 AM | Request Removal

George Will speaks of his class of what I call the bubble people. They live in a bubble, a detached pampered class with their immigrant low-wage-help as they view common life through a portal. His facts and figures on unemployment is skewed of which he generalizes not taking in account the other regions of the country that doesnt reflect the inside loop of D.C. He must long for old Calcutta with beggars in the streets pleading for alms.
By whmcgee | Jan 4, 2007 3:44:52 AM | Request Removal

The sad fact that George Will doesnt take in account is the illegal immigrant labor the continously floods the markets annually depressing wages and driving up housing.
By whmcgee | Jan 4, 2007 3:50:18 AM | Request Removal

Youre an out touch idiot...walmart has been breaking the back of our nations workforce with no health benefits and low wages...if they cant figure it out on their own then the government should step in,,,,
By MRMister | Jan 4, 2007 3:54:08 AM | Request Removal

Unemployment is much higher then George Will speaks of when you take in account the illegal immigrant factor and the governments archaic measures they use in calculating unemployment.
By whmcgee | Jan 4, 2007 4:23:47 AM | Request Removal

George, the problem is that far too many disbarred lawyers already make your proposed minimum wage and if Bar ethics panels had their way, they might be stuck with making it for life. Only within the last several months did the State of Maryland amend their disciplinary rules whereby for the first time in the better part of a decade, disbarred and suspended lawyers can even work for a law firm, or even have an office with one -- PERIOD. If a physicians license is revoked or suspended, at least they can put food on the table in some health related professional capacity, but not lawyers. Talk about misguided political sensitivities -- raise a constitutional issue in a disciplinary or reinstatement proceeding and that GUARANTEES a negative result.
By brucerealtor | Jan 4, 2007 5:08:23 AM | Request Removal

interesting comment
By mdufourt | Jan 4, 2007 5:09:14 AM | Request Removal

Thank you !!!
By brucerealtor | Jan 4, 2007 5:11:27 AM | Request Removal

WELCOME TO GEORGE WILL,S AMERICA. NATIONAL MOTTO: WILL WORK FOR FOOD!
By Bukkonen | Jan 4, 2007 5:13:11 AM | Request Removal

Bruce, why do I get the feeling that you,re a disbarred lawyer instead of a realtor? I refuse to capitalise the word... I suppose you could be both.
By Bukkonen | Jan 4, 2007 5:21:52 AM | Request Removal

I am both. The only problem is the disbarment was in 1980 and 8 reinstatement petitions later, dido. Guess I am a poor ass kisser.
By brucerealtor | Jan 4, 2007 5:24:14 AM | Request Removal

response to: erasejunk30 3:41 You make a valid point by stating that emotions are involved in the minimum wage issue. That said, taking a libertarian hands-off approach to the market is simply ludicrous in a world where Republicans say that greed is good. Most CEOs and corporations dont give a flying frick about anyone except themselves. For instance, they usually donate to charities, in order to reap tax write-offs and publicity. No, the feds can and should influence the market, to a certain extent. The reason third world countries are as such, is usually because their government is too corrupt to do the work that theyre supposed to do. Can you imagine multi-billion $ companies cleaning up after themselves, without the EPA enforcing certain regulations? The minimum wage is a good thing, considering that most Republicans would implement slave labor if they could get away with it. Its been a decade or so since the minimum wage has been raised. Its about that time again.
By con_crusher | Jan 4, 2007 5:25:42 AM | Request Removal

omg Im agreeing with George Will. A zero minimum wage makes a lot of sense if dont want to work for whatever the current rate is then they dont have to. If that still doesnt make sense to you please read Capitalism and Freedom - Milton Friedman. The government has no business in setting price controls like that.
By rathernot | Jan 4, 2007 5:25:46 AM | Request Removal

Oh, the term Realtor is trademarked by the National Association of Realtors, and only NAR members may use it [with a capital.] Technically, a non-NAR member is not even a realtor without a capital, because the word does not exist, except by way of trademark, but it is often used without the capital by anyone with either an agent or brokers license who is not an NAR member, i.e. commercial folks.
By brucerealtor | Jan 4, 2007 5:29:37 AM | Request Removal

F-ck you, George Will, you elitist moron. It would seem you understand economics about as well as you understand fashion, Mr. Bowtie Closet Case. Shut up and go suck on your silver spoon you inbred clown.
By fool_superior | Jan 4, 2007 5:54:08 AM | Request Removal

Were you abused as a child? Ive never read anything so ridiculous.
By JimmyThing | Jan 4, 2007 5:56:39 AM | Request Removal

If men and women are again made to work for free, then I hope we do Gods work freely and we forgive our oppressors while we do it. God has the final reckoning and he will know what debt is owed and who owes it. Our treasures are in Heaven anyway what are we to care about the relics of this world? Let them do what they will.
By ddodds20 | Jan 4, 2007 5:58:13 AM | Request Removal

Sure and the dunderhead who screwed up Home Depot is worth 211 million dollars to be told to leave. Labor is not priced by what it might by worth on the free market. There is no free market in that sense. Big Business has had no counter vailing force since the eighties. Labor is paid what the power structure decides it can get a way with. Thus we have board compensation and executive compensation increasing astronomically regardless of how well or badly a business may be doing and workers wages slowly but surely falling behind even the cost of inflation. We have companies like Wal-Mart which can avoid paying any portion of their employees health care costs beacuse of gaping loopholes in the part time/ full time employee regulations. The idea that Wal-Mart is actually subsidized by other businesses would never occur to a pseudo-thinker like George Will. As for the so-called untaxed restaurant workers, Mr. Will might like to get off his brains and do a little actual research. Many years ago the IRS devised a system for taxing the likely tips these people might be getting. Of course, the same IRS does not tax the many under the table benefits of say newspaper columnists. These benefits would include health care paid by the company George Will has not had an actual thought in thirty years. He is a prime example of a reactionary. He is not a conservative. He is a feudalist just like his buddy, Bush. A convservative would recognize that businesses have a vested interest in conserving the work force that is also the consumer of its products. A conservative would recognize that society had a vested interest in maintaining a healthy balance between the powerful and the many. A bootlicker like Will can only see the powerful and try to cozy up to them.
By jadipietro | Jan 4, 2007 6:01:32 AM | Request Removal

Does George Will get his statistics from Mars? Ask him to try and live off the current minium wage while trying to raise two children, pay a mortgage, utilities, child care, forget the fact that most of these minium wage jobs offer no health care. Perhaps he also agrees with giving retired ousted CEOs these astronomical packages that could help pay the salaries of many who are only nostalgic about keeping something alive that used to be called the middle-class. Enjoy your $5.00 morning coffee.
By Cheryl55a | Jan 4, 2007 6:36:54 AM | Request Removal

Disraeli said that there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics. Further, Adam Smith decried the abuses of free market economics, especially on labor. The Bush Administration has spent six long years further enriching the rich while doing everything it can to keep working people down. Productivity has increased significantly while wages have actually decreased in purchasing power with the gains going unshared to the wealthy. This is a nation of everybody, not just the wealthy. The working taxpayers pay over eighty percent of the revenue and get tapped to spill their blood in the nations defense unlike the coupon clippers who see their wealth grow geometrically while they sit back, do little and contribute even less. And, I do not want to hear any nonsense about it being their money. If we werent protecting their hides and keeping this system going by our work and contributions, these people wouldnt have any money. Finally, George you are a buffoon and an idiot who cannot see the forest for the trees. There is a principle of fairness here than transcends mere economics and it is about time that working people were achieved some modicum of fairness in an economy that is intent on destroying the middle class.
By Calabrese99 | Jan 4, 2007 6:55:51 AM | Request Removal

Mr. Will, Perhaps your view would be different if your overly righteous wording if you put down your awesome book of numbers and went out and spoke with the people making the minimum wage and asked them how a raise would affect their day-to-day life. But that would require leaving your comfort zone of detached, righteous argument.
By briansking | Jan 4, 2007 6:56:36 AM | Request Removal

George Will you should try to live on the minimum wage. I was too broke coming out of college once to by the want ads. It is not fun waiting for someone to discard a newspaper. Your arrogance toward the working poor is shameful.
By aheck | Jan 4, 2007 7:07:46 AM | Request Removal

Mr. Will represents a different group of people from most. While I respect his opinion and his ability to make the most of a thesaurus in his opinions, he often misses the point. While his wages and standard of living I surmise are quite adequate, most people working for minimum wages do not enjoy any sense of security or comfort. It is a clear indication of the growing divide between the rich and the rest of us, which has grown so much under the Bush presidency, and once again, the rich het richer while the poor go deeper into poverty, and the middle class by and large is moving down the money tree as well. How appropriate that Mr. Will would write this piece one day after the Home Depot CEO walks with a $210 million payout. I once worked for minimum wages, which helped me go to school and become a successful person. Without the minimum wage, Id still be doing what I was doing then, and would not have been able to get that all important education. Mr. Will, get out among the real world please and see how real people live.
By bfm_1017 | Jan 4, 2007 7:11:20 AM | Request Removal

Thanks, George. Crass Generalizations written from your multimillion dollar mansion on Connecticut Avenue. You can still smell the cherrywood on your words.
By mrcoldmiser | Jan 4, 2007 7:11:31 AM | Request Removal

To erasejunk30: Your Uncle - Mr. Scrooge just called. He says that he was wrong about the whole workhouse thing. LIsten, I majored in economics, and believe me, I know less than I did before. Think from the heart, not just the mind. Remember the poor...
By bfm_1017 | Jan 4, 2007 7:18:24 AM | Request Removal

Mr. Will has simply spouted the discredited ideas of those who would have us return to the days of the robber barons. He forgets that all this regulation comes because things didnt work too well without it. However, the real problem here is the media. While I can understand the desire of the Post to be fair and balanced, there should be some attempt to ensure that they dont assault their readers with this kind of silliness. Without the media to promote them the George Wills and Ann Coulters of the world would live quietly in an Ayn Rand novel.
By hrkatz | Jan 4, 2007 7:22:29 AM | Request Removal

Yeah. Lets do away with unions and their wage bargaining agreements, too, and bring back those company stores from the good ol days. Lets keep those who are under-educated because they cant afford an education above high school in their place so the rest of us can live off their backs in relative comfort. Is that what youre saying? Labor laws, including the minimum wage, are the only things that stand in the way of big business becoming the feudal kings in this country--not that theyre not already 95 percent of the way there anyhow. If businesses could get away with paying nothing for labor, they would, so they could give $210million severance packages to their outgoing, good-for-nothing CEOs. Blue collar labor has less to do with the price of something than the egos of those running the companies of this country--or the egos of those writing newspaper editorials.
By navylady2005 | Jan 4, 2007 7:22:35 AM | Request Removal

Perhaps Mr. Will would like to work for his proposed minimum wage? Shockingly, in his weekly radio address a couple of weeks ago, George W. Bush boasted that under his presidency, for a typical family of four, if both parents work and leave their children unattended at home, they can now earn almost enough to keep up with inflation. He BOASTED about this. And what about people who fall below the typical wages? As a human being, you should be ashamed of yourself. As a conservative, possibly compassionate, Republican, you wont be.
By edallan | Jan 4, 2007 7:22:47 AM | Request Removal

There are many countries without a minimum wage that might serve as a laboratory for its abolishment, and, trust me, you dont want to live there. For just one example, consider the workers who dismantle old ships in Bangledesh. They take this extremely hard and dangerous work with no protection for a barely subsistence wage. Many are killed or disabled. There is no chance to save or advance. Do I want to live in a country like that? Walking over people living on the sidewalk and through herds of beggars on the way to the bank, since I got mine? Id say Ive worked much harder and had more callouses than most pundits, played by the rules and made a nice life. I was lucky to have good parents. So I personally did not benefit directly from the federal minimum wage, but I firmly believe that it is good policy for providing opportunity for those who are starting on or stuck on the bottom rung of the employment ladder. Many hourly wages would be lower without this minimum.
By debrawalt | Jan 4, 2007 7:23:10 AM | Request Removal

Another voice coming from the right-wing sociopaths. Funny to hear George Will slaming the minimum wage when he is probably a millionaire. Considering Wills afluent lifestyle it would be better for him to defer his right-wing con job to someone of more modest means. For someone who is living a lavicous lifestyle condeming the minimum wage doesnt go over very well. It just makes those of us who have had to face the ups and downs in life angrier at the egregious right-wing!
By mgd2854 | Jan 4, 2007 7:25:15 AM | Request Removal

If youre earning only minimum wage and youre attempting to live on that, dude, youve got way more problems than an increase in the minimum wage is going to solve. If youre trying to raise a family on a minimum wage job youre a loser and will always be a failure.
By ronjaboy | Jan 4, 2007 7:26:39 AM | Request Removal

im not a huge fan of the minimum wage, but the solution is not to eliminate it, at least until weve solved the huge problem of the obscene inequity between CEOs and entry level workers. the french revolution occurred largely because the rich were making a couple of hundred times what the poor were. the percentages are off the scale now. my conservative self is sickened by the rampant greed of our current corporate-knows-best mentality. lets start putting people before corporations, and apply conservative fiscal policy there. khairete suz
By ridetbred | Jan 4, 2007 7:35:14 AM | Request Removal

I hope that the George Will will lead by example by lowering his own wages to $5 an hour. George Will can afford less than minimum wage, too, because he is a wealthy man.
By dmathew1 | Jan 4, 2007 7:39:31 AM | Request Removal

Give me a break George...an increase in the minimum wage is long overdue.
By hatchlaw | Jan 4, 2007 7:41:18 AM | Request Removal

Also, I will add that American corporations do have millions of employees who are earning substantially less than the minimum wage. Throughout the Third World these corporations often pay less than $2 a day to employees who work between 60-80 hours a week. This is the sort of life which Americas peasants will receive from George Will while his CEO buddies earn $100 million a year or more for pillaging the nation and exploiting the oppressed. America, we are fast approaching the time in which a new revolution is needed.
By dmathew1 | Jan 4, 2007 7:45:26 AM | Request Removal

I can only believe that Mr. Will: 1. has never worked a low-wage job in his life 2. has never been exposed to the levels to which many employers will sink in order to save a few pennies 3. doesnt believe that entry level work should be rewarded with a living wage 4. doesnt actually care about the desperate lives being lived by people at the bottom of the economic ladder. The statement that labor is a commodity is the kind of elitest, inhumane and inane comment that unfortunately I have begun to expect from him.
By mhays-mdi | Jan 4, 2007 7:47:10 AM | Request Removal

It would boost wages for American workers if employers could not deduct wage expenses for tax purposes unless they withheld income taxes for the employees and the employees filed 1040 returns. This would cut the incentive to hire illegal workers to skirt both wage, safety, and working hours regulations.
By jmkoch | Jan 4, 2007 7:50:27 AM | Request Removal

YOU ARE LOOKING AT THE WIDER PICTURE, WHICH IS APPROPIATE. BUT WHAT ABOUT THE STRUGGLING PARENT OR PARENTS WHOS ONLY SOURCE OF INCOME IS ONE OR TWO OR MAYBE 3 MINIMUM WAGE JOBS. WOULD YOU SACRIFICE THEM SO THAT THOSE WHO REALLY DO NOT NEED A RAISE, GET ONE? I BELIEVE THE DEMOCRATS ARE LOOKING OUT FOR THE POOR AND DESTITUTE AND THE TEENAGERS AND THOSE JUST NEEDING SOME EXTRA BUCKS ARE COLLATERAL DAMAGE, IF YOU WILL PUN NOT INTENDED. YOU ARE NOT WRONG. I MAY BE MISGUIDED. AND YET THE POOR ARE STILL POOR.
By MXJ2015 | Jan 4, 2007 7:51:30 AM | Request Removal

George, you have laissez-faire nostalgia. And those are ideas that have fallen on the trash heap of history. The market causes just as much havoc as government policies, the only difference is that conservatives like you have a government to blame for said havoc when it is because of the government. While you laissez-faire conservatives, who always seem to do well for yourself or is it that you all are conservative because you are doing well for yourselvescan say that it is the natural way of things when it is the market. Outsourcing, lack of saving, high debt, rising healthcare cost, rising housing cost, stagnant wages, and the loss of manufacturing jobs are the havoc that the market brings. Now you can say these things are all about efficiency, which they are. But the father working at Walmart now because he lost his job at a plant aint thinking about efficiency. The children that will drop out to take advantage of the higher minimum wage arent thinking about markets, they are thinking about income security. We need more planning in our economy like investments into renewable fuels, to break our addiction to oil of which the market has brought us, to deal with the transition from a manufacturing economy to a information-service oriented economy of which the market brought us. And the start is by raising the minimum wage in hopes of unsticking stagnant wages of which the market brought us, beginning with those with the least impact on business, which is with the lowest wages.
By johnnyspazm | Jan 4, 2007 7:52:40 AM | Request Removal

The irony is that were going to need a higher minimum wage to pay the construction workers to build the walls around our neighborhoods, and pay the security force to keep the riff-raff out. So, not sure why Mr. Will is concerned about it...
By mdklein | Jan 4, 2007 7:53:57 AM | Request Removal

Typically of George Will, it is not clear at all why the conclusion in this case the disutility of the minimum wage is supposed to follow from the numerical facts he states. For instance, Will says, most of the 0.6 percent 479,000 in 2005 of Americas wage workers earning the minimum wage are not poor. Only one in five workers earning the federal minimum lives in families with earnings below the poverty line. Ok: that entails that 95,800 minimum wage workers live in families below the poverty line. We know that every dollar counts for those workers. So raising the federal minimum wage would help at least 95,800 working Americans living below the poverty level. This is hardly an argument against raising the minimum wage. Of course, Ive been playing dumb: Wills thought is that since on average minimum wage recipients do not live in poverty, it follows that there is no viable argument for raising the minimum wage based on the fact that it would alleviate poverty. This is laughably fallacious.
By gamougin | Jan 4, 2007 7:58:56 AM | Request Removal

The poor should be encouraged to eat George Will.
By nleibowitz | Jan 4, 2007 8:03:48 AM | Request Removal

George Will misses the point: 1. What matters is not who currently makes the minimum, but who makes an hourly wage somewhere between the current and proposed minimum $5.15 and $7.25. This is the relevant population. 2. Tom Bartik of the WE Upjohn Institute, Alan Manning of the London School of Economics, and others have pointed out that labor demand in many cases is not very elastic. Granted, nobody is proposing the $15 minimum that Will ridiculously mentions in his article, but relatively inelastic labor demand curves mean that the supposed dangers of increasing the minimum wage are actually quite modest. 3. Does belittling real arguments as New Deal nostalgia pass as good writing these days? Im missing the point of what Will is trying to say here... a suggestion to readers - if you want intelligent commentary on these types of issues rather than this punditry, read Robert Samuelson of the Post, or Paul Krugman of the New York Times, or even Sebastian Mallaby sp? of the Post. Dont even bother with George F. Will.
By dpkueh | Jan 4, 2007 8:12:00 AM | Request Removal

Georgie, you bow-tied prissy little goose faced twit. Anybody that wants to do the math realizes that a $2.10 per hour raise equates to $4,200 per year, and that is just on 50 weeks per year. The additional income might allow a family to vacation for the other two weeks, as long as they don*t stop for more than one meal a day.
By billgk | Jan 4, 2007 8:17:24 AM | Request Removal

Amen! It is high time that the facts were stated plainly and clearly about this socialistic artifact. Once, our church finance committee argued about an associate pastors salary being not enough to live on. My position was that the offered salary was what the position demanded if more funds were needed by the pastor, that was a problem for the pastor, not the committee. Same goes here: if a person needs more money, there are solutions in the private sector that will remedy the situation.
By edcclub71 | Jan 4, 2007 8:21:54 AM | Request Removal

Amazing, the kind of more or less vitriolic - or benevolant - response an iconoclastic commentator can get when the time is right, i.e. uncertain. I thus congratulate Brother George and decided to award him for his thought-provoking piece with the highest available label: iconoclast with the hope others will join the debate on Revisiting Das Kapital while others dance on the Titanic at www.solami.com/capitalism.htm
By solami | Jan 4, 2007 8:23:13 AM | Request Removal

Its easy for George Will to favor a zero minimum wage, He is clearly not one of the working poor. Typical Republican crap.
By lou | Jan 4, 2007 8:23:53 AM | Request Removal

Equating a raise in the minimum wage to a predictable raise in school dropout rates simply because the work seems more attractive is about as boy in the bubble as you can get. Enough said.
By keith.mickelberg | Jan 4, 2007 8:28:20 AM | Request Removal

You should be paid $0 you cheap SOB.
By upland_bill | Jan 4, 2007 8:28:32 AM | Request Removal

I was going to tear into this idiot for writing such an elitist piece of trash. However after reading all the comments already written, I dont think there is much left to say. I will say this though, it makes me sad that people like George Will exist.
By gff2a | Jan 4, 2007 8:30:28 AM | Request Removal

Is someone upset about this last mid-term election? How about whining about this out of control pay scale for executives like Mr. Home Depot? Does the market pay attention to needless waste for failed leadership? That kind of money pays for a lot of jobs and helps stock growth.....
By mbenevento23 | Jan 4, 2007 8:31:24 AM | Request Removal

The problem is that elite intellectual snobs like mr Will put their ideology before the good of the American people. When you are well off the trials of those who are not becomes so abstract as to be irrelevent to your world. Mr Will and is kind are not qulified to speak to this issue. Try working for tips and see how well you do.
By kchcloc | Jan 4, 2007 8:32:57 AM | Request Removal

i think the cost of commodities in stores should be $0. then people should accept $0 minimum wage.
By Daniel.Craig | Jan 4, 2007 8:37:39 AM | Request Removal

Mr. Will should be paid by number of positive comments he gets for his editorials. By his recent editorials he would be starving like marvin. lol
By Daniel.Craig | Jan 4, 2007 8:40:18 AM | Request Removal

Right on Will. Show me an honest hardworking citizen trying to raise a family on minimum wage........you can not. They do not exist.
By Frishoo | Jan 4, 2007 8:42:40 AM | Request Removal

I had a dream about a world in which the minimum wage was 0. All the people that used to work for $5.15 an hour decide they’re better off being scavengers or thieves. Soon order breaks down. Chaos and anarchy results. But nothing changes until the rich learn that there is no one to dispose of their garbage, mop their floors, or clean their cesspools. Panic time. Soon the minimum wage is back - $10 an hour and well worth it.
By doylecook | Jan 4, 2007 8:42:49 AM | Request Removal

Will is totally right, and makes the case with logic and reasoning. This of course does not cut it with liberals, whose mantra is, **Do not bother me with the facts, my mind is made up.**
By gitarre | Jan 4, 2007 8:50:20 AM | Request Removal

Mr. Will should try working for a living - something Im certain that he and the rest of his neo-con ilk will never have to do as long as they continue to receive their own elite form of GOP-sponsored government welfare/tax giveaways designed only for the wealthy.
By gkkology | Jan 4, 2007 8:50:50 AM | Request Removal

Will is correct on all counts....but like he says, bad economics is often good politics. The extensive losses by jobs not created, by the accelerated transition to capital-intensive processes as a substitute for labor, etc. are not measurable because they have to be compared to something that does not exist: what would have happened in the absence of the minimum wage. Add that to the fact that so many people want to enact policies that make them feel good about themselves rather than policies that are beneficial in the long run and you can understand why they make a bad idea sound so good.
By mhof | Jan 4, 2007 8:54:27 AM | Request Removal

These rich Republicans dont give a damn about the working poor,whose ranks keep growing.Of course the rich Democrats dont either.There isnt going to be much change,other than style,between the 99th and the 100th Congress.Both parties are financed by the same moneyed folk.For the poor and working people,it is really a waste of time to vote.The baby boomers have never seen a real congress and the last President that had any real independent authority was murdered by the C.I.A. in 63.
By davekpp | Jan 4, 2007 8:57:23 AM | Request Removal

I agree with GW on the minimum wage and I rarely agree with him on anything. However, in order for this to work we need to have universal health coverage for all. I think the minimum wage allows the lawmakers to ignore the real problem of poor housing and health care.
By jdonnelly | Jan 4, 2007 8:57:31 AM | Request Removal

To: gitarre RE: This of course does not cut it with liberals, whose mantra is, **Do not bother me with the facts, my mind is made up.** Have you been asleep for the past six years? Will contradicts all the facts - read the enormous Neumark and Wascher literature review of all the recent work on the minimum wage. Granted, theyre not even outspoken advocates of increasing the minimum wage - but they concluded that the employment effects of a two year, phased increase of $2.10 will have modest employment effects. Economic models that date back to 1870 are not facts - theyre fantasies. Look at the research - look at the data. A higher minimum wage isnt going to ruin this economy. If anything will, it will be the international chaos wrought by this administration, and the unsustainable debt that conservatives, not liberals, have been building up. The old, cliche, insult was ::tax and spend liberal::. America, meet the ::borrow and spend conservatives::
By dpkueh | Jan 4, 2007 8:57:49 AM | Request Removal

More heartless crap from a member of the privileged class.
By ahh13 | Jan 4, 2007 9:01:04 AM | Request Removal

Georgie, this is what you think? what drivel. You are so passe. mouthpiece, are ya? I suspect you could earn more with your kneepads and lips instead of spouting your same ol bs. but hey, keep it up, I love laughing at you. youre a circus freak. stay freaky
By fix_it | Jan 4, 2007 9:04:33 AM | Request Removal

There you go again, Mr. Will. Its nice to know that right-wingnuts like you are so out of touch and transparent puppets of Big Business. If anyone is wondering why liberal blogs are so vibrant and effective and conservative blops are shallow and appeal to only a narrow clique, heres the reason. Conservative thinking is intellectually bankrupt, narrow-minded and out of touch. Carry on, you might just help run the whole Republican Party, dominated as it is by evangelicals and business, right into the ground!
By cjburke | Jan 4, 2007 9:05:15 AM | Request Removal

George Wills facts are misguided and slanted towards his views. He does have a shread of truth and that is what makes it believeable. There is never an easy answer so George why not try to look at all the solutions and you will find that corporate America is only looking out for itself not for the American people. It has been proven time and time again. Also, The New Deal saved many peoples lives and that in itself made it worth it. You were not there at the time so you can not remember you only listen to the views of others who think they know.
By antoniofallucca | Jan 4, 2007 9:05:24 AM | Request Removal

Yeah, this out-of-touch bow-tie wearing pansy is telling real workers about how to live! This guy needs to be making minimum!
By fishyfu | Jan 4, 2007 9:07:16 AM | Request Removal

How about this George - if people are a commodity, then the country is merely an economic arrangement, and our loyalties logically go to the highest bidder. How about the Peoples Republic of China, which finances our consumer debt? Maybe they can operate our government more efficiently on a contract-for-fee basis, Ohyes, youll need to submit your columns to management for review.
By arvay | Jan 4, 2007 9:07:24 AM | Request Removal

Before true Americans would allow you incompetent NeoCons and shot at making the minimum wage zero we would trust you with invading another country on your check list. Meaning, never. Americans would use their guns on you guys first!
By fishyfu | Jan 4, 2007 9:10:05 AM | Request Removal

Let me see. America emerged out of the terrible economid depression of 1929 with a minimum wage, child labor laws, social security, world class environmental protection laws, world class fairness to our own citizens and to immigrants and became the most powerful nation the world has ever seen. Yet the apologists for the Let the good times roll crowd like George Will continue to whine. Will reminds me of an English comedy on PBS...he is stuck in another world. But I guess he has to write something every day to earn his millions without risking capital or breaking a sweat. He is a dumb bunny if I ever saw one. Wishing for 1928 again and again. :
By jwgilley | Jan 4, 2007 9:10:35 AM | Request Removal

It seems like repulicans are like their president, in a state of denial. If the number of those who will be affected by minimum wage increase should also be negligible! The people who are affected by minimum wage are real people suffering to make ends meet. I suggest the author consider talking about middle class crisis. But wait..... a repulican does not care. A repulican is happy when the top 3 make fortune.
By osama6 | Jan 4, 2007 9:14:14 AM | Request Removal

George W. Bush is BY FAR the most overrated intellect in America. He has no concept of the changes to society that would be wrought by the elimination of the minimum wage. We would quickly fall to third-world status, where many of our people would in conditions that are worse than serfdom in the middle ages. At least serfs had a great deal of leisure time and dwellings that were fairly expansive in their square footage. That would NOT be the case in a post-minimum wage America, where we would see large numbers of people crammed into small apartments until zoning put them out onto the street. George Will claims that Democrats have a nostalgia for the New Deal. Well, Republicans have a nostalgia for feudal times, and I personally prefer the New Deal to their effort to establish a permanent aristocracy that runs roughshod over an oppressed peasantry that would comprise perhaps 95 percent of our population. Go away, Georgie. Your time is done, thank GOD!
By FergusonFoont | Jan 4, 2007 9:14:16 AM | Request Removal

Youd do real good as an advisor to the PRC. Statistics, numbers, whoa golly...none of that means a damn to somebody at the bottom of the barrel. In essence raising the minimum wage to $7.25 would affect very little anyway. Nobody, even a single person, can live on it. Try it a while yourself and see if you can pry yourself from the cocktail circuit. What do other industrialized or first world countries have? Higher minimum wages, weeks off for births, 6 weeks vacation, a safety net for workers, national health insurance. Granted all aint rosy. But there is a concern for people. You and the people in the party you are a part of emphasize things, not people. You peruse dry numbers, the bottom line, not the social fabric, or the greater good. I saw a poll once that 40 of people who call themselves Republicans dont care what happens to others, believe that misfortune is self-made. They are indifferent to the point of callousness. Thats another aspect of Puritanism besides the fanaticism of retrogresive social policies. The R stands for Regressive. And your oblique attack on FDR is silly as any objective voter who came of age in the 30s will tell you. Imagine the country with Hoover for another term in 1932. Like the South, every social advancement has been greeted by the Rs with opposition. The South changed only when somebody made it from outside. Lessee, the Rs opposed all the new deal legislation, the draft on the precipice of WWII, Civil Rights, you name it. What terrible stewards of government the Republicans have been since the early 1900s. Debt, war, overthrowing democratic governments, supporting tyrants, indifference to disasters and people, a political legacy of clinging to power no matter the damage to the county. Happy new year. The partys over, unless the Ds screw it up again which is probable.
By aguasticas | Jan 4, 2007 9:16:29 AM | Request Removal

QuestionSo George,how would you like to work forty or more hours a week for $5.25 per hour? Of course you wouldnt.So why do you so vicously begrudge these people a decent wage?You are a prim example of what is wrong with this country.
By nanturner | Jan 4, 2007 9:17:36 AM | Request Removal

Do we value work in our society? Do we think its better for people to work for money than to be starving in the streets or stealing to survive? Do we believe in family? Do we think that parents should be the ones paying to raise families, and that having parents capable of earning a living gives children a sense of stability and purpose in their lives? Do we value children in our society? Do we see any potential for their lives and their futures in their intrinsic selves? If we believe in any of those things, we have to support paying for them. Its so ridiculous to see so called conservatives eager to practically throw money at the wealthy, while becoming apoplectic at the thought of some hard-working janitor whose work DOES deserve respect, not contempt, earning an extra 25 cents an hour. Mr. Will seems to think its social engineering to regulate an extremely modest minimum wage without recognizing that society is engaging in social engineering all the time, mostly in ways that benefit the wealthy.
By ahh13 | Jan 4, 2007 9:17:59 AM | Request Removal

First let us just say that FDR was right. Second let us say the reason he was right was that the free market, the employers, told him in person let them starve. Third, have you ever lived on less than $ 7000.00 a year, I have. How dare anyone let some one like this even speak. If FDR was in office no one in the south would still be in trailers.
By chris1423 | Jan 4, 2007 9:18:06 AM | Request Removal

As an economics professor, I find Mr. Wills commentary a breath of fresh air among all the political grandstanding on this issue and intend to to present this article in my microeconomics course this semester. Judging by the other comments, I think a number of you should seriously consider enrolling in an economics course at your local community college. If you dont have the time or the means because of all that corporate greed exploiting the prolitariat, pick up Common Sense Economics by Gwartney, Stroupe, Lee Economics in One Lesson by Hazlitt or Basic Economics Applied Economics by Sowell. Cheers!
By dvgulla | Jan 4, 2007 9:19:08 AM | Request Removal

George Will must be a Dead Kennedys fan as he seems to have taken to heart their song Kill the Poor.
By whirlwind81 | Jan 4, 2007 9:19:14 AM | Request Removal

God? Is this Mr. Will Godless, or what? Let them eat cake, right?!
By kevinfletcha | Jan 4, 2007 9:24:27 AM | Request Removal

Again poor George shows his lack of compassion or understanding for the lowly pions that clean up his messes.Please throw us your schillings as we bow down oh great seer.
By cardeity48 | Jan 4, 2007 9:26:29 AM | Request Removal

When the Pontifical Georges Will and Bush begin working for a minimum wage of $0, Ill be the first to salute them. Supply and demand is convenient B.S. when youre fat, a lie when youre lean. Everyone has an opinion-Will should be paid $0 merely due to the competition. Anyone can grow up to be President-Bush should suffer the same economic fate. Janitors make diddley, but nobody wants the job. Explain supply and demand again, George?
By kgummy | Jan 4, 2007 9:26:45 AM | Request Removal

Companies could not make a profit with out being subsidies by the people...eliminate advertisment as a write off and salaries for non-productive people in the media, entertainment and businesses would be reasonable again...
By rstabler | Jan 4, 2007 9:31:20 AM | Request Removal

dvgulla: Perhaps you should read some economic theory that doesnt support your beliefs. And maybe you should enroll in a University or College -- seems the community college information you advocate isnt serving you too well. I wonder what you should do for a living. Lets try you on minimum wage, minus any trusts or investments you havent earned on your own -- minus inheritance, etc. Then come back and tell us about how to live on less than $10 per hour. You selfish expletive.
By kevinfletcha | Jan 4, 2007 9:31:40 AM | Request Removal

You twisted statistics to make a gross over-simplification of a complicated issue. For example, you state: Sixty percent work part time, and their average household income is well over $40,000. That fact relys upon the fact the workers family is making more than minimum wage. If my husband makes a good wage does that mean that I should not get adequately paid for my work? Also you fail to realize how unrealistic the poverty level is. In my past, I lived slightly above the poverty level and I assure you I was poor.
By mmorrison | Jan 4, 2007 9:31:59 AM | Request Removal

How about instead of eliminating the minimum wage we start a federal maximum wage? That ought to free up some cash to increase job opportunities at the lowest levels.
By Reader1000 | Jan 4, 2007 9:32:03 AM | Request Removal

dvgulla: PS: If you got paid by the hour, what is it, 5 hours or more you put into your lectures per week, I think that would be a phat $50 per week for you! And lets get rid of your pension and all the perks that the professors are getting! Welcome to the real world. And trust me, my dad is a professor. He just isnt a selfish one.
By kevinfletcha | Jan 4, 2007 9:34:27 AM | Request Removal

I am the owner of hotels. I employ, depending on the time of year 250 to 300 low wage employees all of which earn $2 to $4 dollars above $5.15. The increase to $7.25 causes a bump effect by raising expections for wage increases. I can adjust room rates to accomodate the increased costs as will other properties in other market places which I operate. The problem is with the marginal businesses who do not have this option. They will become more efficient or as the margin moves they will gone. Clasic economics. Really no different than when the congress gives breaks to businesses that would not exist otherwise. Just the other side of the coin.
By hisailor | Jan 4, 2007 9:35:43 AM | Request Removal

Would Mr. Will be willing to comment on the recent severance package negotiated by Mr. Nardelli of Home Depot in the context of wages and especially minimum wage in the US? Al Hersh
By alhersh | Jan 4, 2007 9:35:46 AM | Request Removal

Well dvgulla, we got a guy in the WH now who had a lot of economics classes and it wasnt at a community college. Hows that working out so far?
By aguasticas | Jan 4, 2007 9:36:30 AM | Request Removal

Only one in five workers earning the federal minimum lives in families with earnings below the poverty line. Only? I dont onderstand. That is 20.
By jbetterl | Jan 4, 2007 9:36:51 AM | Request Removal

As a practicing economist working in industry for over thirty years I can say that Professor Textbooks above needs to get a clue. Markets fail, people cheat, and the poor and powerless get ripped off all the time. There need to be minimum standards of pay, ethics, safety and security or the invisible hand will not work properly. Mr. Will is, as always, a Torry elitist snob Cubs fan northsider. He’d be perfectly happy back in Dickensian England.
By fliegerinla | Jan 4, 2007 9:37:34 AM | Request Removal

Labor is a commodity. At least Mr. Will is honest - he holds all workers as less than human. He reinforces this notion, acknowledging that raising the minimum wage will have a negligible impact on employment but will only benefit between a half million to a million wage earners. These poor people are meaningless to him. As to states as laboratories: I support this notion. However, laboratories find better ways of seeing thinking and doing. Prove to me that the pro-human-as-commodity states like Mississippi are more economically successful than my home state of Minnesota and Ill rethink raising the minimum wage.
By dbordson | Jan 4, 2007 9:38:06 AM | Request Removal

The first and hopefully not the last time I agree with George Will. Excellent ideas!
By bmayhew | Jan 4, 2007 9:39:06 AM | Request Removal

AS usual, George Will tries to confuse us with convoluted statistics. While figures never lie, liers always figure.
By hershybar | Jan 4, 2007 9:42:44 AM | Request Removal

2 major problems with George Wills analysis just blare out at me: 1 No mainstream economists believe that the Great Depression was prolonged by the New Deal, but rather by the fact that 1there was no FDIC or SEC in the pre-Roosevelt years, banks gave loans to people to buy stocks thinking that they would be able to pay them back with dividends: between 1920 and 1929 dividends almost tripled 2 Roosevelt was committed to balanced budgets before WWII instead of expansive government spending Keynesianism and 3the extreme inequality the difference between the average and median incomes of households accumulated in the pre-Roosevelt years because of ahigher worker productivity bstagnant wages/drastic cuts in demand for agricultural produce and c the maldistribution of corporate profits: In 1929 approximately 80 percent of the nations families had no savings whatsoever. Therefore, advances in mass production did not result in mass consumption. 2 Prices at which workers agree to work are not policies. They are wages. A diversity of prices is not a diversity of policies. A minimum wage is a MINIMUM: not the price that all workers in all occupations work at. It is designed to increase mass consumption, which is inhibited by inequality in incomes. And it is a fact that when corporations move to states or countries that have lower wages/less labor or environmental regulations that ultimately their relocation does not benefit workers or the environment, but encourages other states and countries to also lower their standards to attract jobs, which benefits who other than those corporations that can afford the costs of relocating unlike most workers and small businesses? Closing the gap between average and median incomes is the best way to put our economy on a solid footing again. Doug Wagner National Campus Green Party Fair Trade Campaign Coordinator
By dougnwagner | Jan 4, 2007 9:43:23 AM | Request Removal

A zero minimum wage makes a lot of sense if dont want to work for whatever the current rate is then they dont have to. So whats the substitution for work? Welfare? Im sure GW is all in favor of that. The problem with treating labor as a commodity whose price can go to zero is that labor has to eat whether its employed or not. Labor is more like a capital good that has continuing overhead costs that must be paid.
By rod.engelsman | Jan 4, 2007 9:47:18 AM | Request Removal

Why does George Will still have a job?
By cglover | Jan 4, 2007 9:52:39 AM | Request Removal

So labor is a commodity, and its price should therefore be set by the market. Fine. But how can it then at the same time be a matter of federalism and therefore be set by the states? Make up your mind, George. And while you are at it, consider the obvious irony of declaring labor a commodity to be untouched by the government but keeping the mail, of all things, a sacred federal responsibility. If you want to reduce government intervention why dont you argue against the anachronistic postal service. Then they could start fresh with your $0 minimum, too.
By cpwdc | Jan 4, 2007 9:52:39 AM | Request Removal

Bad timing on this idea the day after the CEO of Home Depot is forced to take $200 million dollars to leave.
By sargon20 | Jan 4, 2007 9:53:19 AM | Request Removal

Who set the minimum wages of all the contractors ripping off America in Iraq?
By rjamisonjr | Jan 4, 2007 9:55:46 AM | Request Removal

More nonsense from the one of the biggest windbags in DC and the competition is stiff. Should be a minimum wage of $0 for failed CEOs and columnists who do not make sense.
By bunkerhill | Jan 4, 2007 9:56:36 AM | Request Removal

Yes Mr. Will, labor is a comodity, but again, it is also how folks earn enough to eat. It is really easy to have the view that there should be no minimum wage when your personal income is something like the minimum wage for a major league professional baseball player. Perhaps you should see what it is to live at even three times the minimum wage for a while, but that is probably more than you would be worth on a construction site.
By johnston.robert | Jan 4, 2007 9:57:17 AM | Request Removal

Liberals...hurling insults and changing the subject is not a rebuttal. And by the way, when your kid cannot find a summer job, will you tell him it is another Karl Rove plot?
By gitarre | Jan 4, 2007 9:57:36 AM | Request Removal

Do illegal immigrants make or exceed the minimum wage? Perhaps they are taking the jobs that Americans are not allowed to take?
By ToldYaSo | Jan 4, 2007 9:58:04 AM | Request Removal

George Will speaks of his class of what I call the bubble people. They live in a bubble, a detached pampered class with their immigrant low-wage-help as they view common life through a portal. His facts and figures on unemployment is skewed of which he generalizes not taking in account the other regions of the country that doesnt reflect the inside loop of D.C. Unemployment is much higher then George Will speaks of when you take in account the illegal immigrant factor and the governments archaic measures they use in calculating unemployment.The sad fact that George Will doesnt take in account is the illegal immigrant labor that continously floods the markets annually depressing wages and driving up housing. He must long for old Calcutta with beggars in the streets pleading for alms.
By whmcgee | Jan 4, 2007 9:58:09 AM | Request Removal

If companies are forced to pay higher minimum wages, it would force them to be more selective of the people they hire at the lowest levels. Higher minimum wages would also make lower level jobs more attractive to better qualified applicants. So instead of just filling 10 positions at Wal Mart with incompetant people who care very little about their future and even less about customers, you might have to settle for 5 new employees who are looking for a higher hourly salary because they can only work part time while they attend college. In other words, smarter people who care about the future. This would increase competition for those jobs and, imagine this, potentially improve service. The brain-dead applicants would then have to choose between unemployment and working harder to keep the jobs they had to compete to get. The unemployment rate would go up, increasing the pressure on our society to improve education in the struggling school districts. We would have to think very carefully and come up with real education improvement solutions, not BS like No Child Left Behind. For starters, perhaps we could have a program called No Teacher Left Behind, in which the minimum wage for public school teachers is raised to $50,000 a year, and make the more competetive starting salaries around $75,000. Maybe if we prioritize education to the front of everything else, making teaching jobs so attractive that the smart kids are encouraged to get masters degrees in education rather than to go to law school...
By Reader1000 | Jan 4, 2007 9:58:59 AM | Request Removal

Where is the column analyzing the economic effect of our shores not being defended on 9-11? How much had we invested in NORAD and 24 military bases within eze flying distance of NY and Wash D.C. And nothing gets off the ground for almost and hour? The whole Defense establishment did poorly on 9-11, but they seem to have all gotten bonuses and maximum wages. And they are all government dependents, subsidized by taxpayers, often receiving better health and retirement benefits than wage earners in the marketplace. Examine that, please.
By news2notice | Jan 4, 2007 9:59:50 AM | Request Removal

Labor is a commodity. That says it all, well Georgie LABOR PEACE is a commodity too, and you and your corporate buddies have been HAVING IT FOR FREE for too long. In one sense youre disrespectful attitiude toward hand laborers would WORK FOR THEM because they would organize to protect themselves, and the pendulumn would finally start swinging back toward the little guy. THEYD VOTE TOO, which would you rethinking your greed. Im surprised you dont suggest bringing back the COMPANY STORE, so the WalMarts could pay employees in cheap plastic junk and third quality blue jeans, and save themselves all that check writitng.
By cxk2 | Jan 4, 2007 10:04:00 AM | Request Removal

The wages of slaves was ZERO so why not the same for working free people. George Will would love to have people working for only dog food as he celebrates the Free Market.
By qqqmul | Jan 4, 2007 10:05:47 AM | Request Removal

In an ideal world one may argue that the minimum wage should be zero. But is is really strange that Mr Will thinks that we somewhat live in such an ideal world. In a good political/social/economic environment the market forces work fine for setting up the compensation for all workers, with the exception of the ones situated at either extremity of the pay scale.
By alextor01 | Jan 4, 2007 10:06:01 AM | Request Removal

To Reader1000 I agree with the idea of improving Teachers pay, and a more streamline certification process that is less confusing.
By whmcgee | Jan 4, 2007 10:06:29 AM | Request Removal

Ahhh, another article written by an out of touch pampered, overpaid conservative pundit. Talk about a wasted commodity.
By LABC | Jan 4, 2007 10:09:02 AM | Request Removal

You may be right, Mr. Will. The minimum wage may in fact hurt the poor. But if you want to persuade people like myself, it would help if you took on the Wealth Disparity in this country as well. I guess Ill have to look to bloggers for that.
By justin.morton | Jan 4, 2007 10:11:14 AM | Request Removal

In an ideal world the minimun wage would be $20 not zero. It has been established long ago that large scale spending by the government is absolutely necessary for a healthy society. It is the ballast that holds the ship upright. They say for a good example of a perfectly free market look at Nigeria, you can buy a person there.
By cxk2 | Jan 4, 2007 10:12:17 AM | Request Removal

Better yet, reduce the minimum wage below $0. Make students and poor folks pay to find work! That will keep those pesky kids in school. That will help the poor folks understand they should emmigrate to Mexico where they can find better jobs. If i understand the oh-so-complex stats presented here by Mr. Snotty-Haughty Revisionist, that would flush several hundred thousand of his less favorite Americans outta here! Brilliant!!
By dtrasmus | Jan 4, 2007 10:13:51 AM | Request Removal

To the Washinton Post editors: Enough with these crotchety conservative gasbags - the country has moved on. No one cares what old Ebenezer Will thinks anymore. Put him out to pasture where he belongs.
By thorson | Jan 4, 2007 10:15:10 AM | Request Removal

Hm. So Republicans want to totally remove consumer protections. Ho hum. Just wish this werent old news. So, Mr. Will - I guess you think its just fine for your industrialist buddies to put plutonium in candy bars to improve the taste, or bring back lead paint. After all, nothing else matters but your bottom line. Arrogant, selfish no-accounts that you are.
By peeeeeanut | Jan 4, 2007 10:17:09 AM | Request Removal

THE EVER BRILLIANTLY SENILE GEORGE WILL IS AT IT AGAIN. GOOSH. HELL HATH NO FURY LIKE AN IGNORED INTELLECTUAL SNOB!
By Open_Woundz | Jan 4, 2007 10:17:36 AM | Request Removal

George, you and Ruch Limbaugh shoud get togehter and do a show. You both spout the same cliches over and over again. How about an original thought now and then. You used to be capable of creative thinking.
By davidgreer | Jan 4, 2007 10:20:34 AM | Request Removal

at $0. george will is overpaid.
By jsarizona | Jan 4, 2007 10:21:15 AM | Request Removal

It is nice to see the overwhelming reaction to Mr. Wills column. Humanity is still alive and well in our nation despite the naysayers and name callers. Mr. Will needs to do an experiment and live on $10 per hour for a year. Minus any other wealth. Then he can come back and instruct us on why we should lower the minimum wage to $0. Regulations like a minimum wage dont hurt us. They protect us from people like Mr. Will. Also, for employers like mine who try to pay a living wage, -- an increase in the minimum wage levels the playing field. Then our company doesnt have to compete with the companies who pay their workers substandard wages. Thanks for all the comments. Humanity is alive and well in the USA!
By kevinfletcha | Jan 4, 2007 10:23:55 AM | Request Removal

Its always funny when neocons reduce human existence to mere labor units. Humans are messy and complex and come into the world with annoying things like needs and rights. Labor units are commodities - expendible - throw aways. For Mr. Will, a grocery clerk is something you wipe your fanny off with then toss in the commode. Poor George. When reading Dickens he must experience such confusion as to which characters are the protagonists and which are the antagonists. Why do the ghosts keep picking on poor Scrooge?
By jc | Jan 4, 2007 10:24:04 AM | Request Removal

Emigration to Mexico would be nice if you are a Mexican, but if you are a Gringo you then turn second class citizen with no property rights. They failed to include those details in NAFTA from the very same people that believe in zero minium wage.
By whmcgee | Jan 4, 2007 10:27:57 AM | Request Removal

Since he believes that labor is just another commodity, Will would no doubt support abolishing all maximum hours, overtime, child labor, and workplace safety legislation, returning us to those golden days of yesteryear when working people knew their place.
By polsaa | Jan 4, 2007 10:28:06 AM | Request Removal

Id like to agree with Mr. Wills reasoned and consistent opinion, but in writing such an inside-the-beltway nerd article he overlooks an important aspect of the minimum wage: that it creates an important baseline for hourly wages and salaries across the board. A minimum wage reflects an average cost of living and defines a base value for American workers time. In a period when the income gap is ever widening, and where companies are under great pressure to keep all costs extremely low, creating a common understanding of a generic persons basic time value benefits many workers, especially younger or less-skilled employees with limited bargaining power.
By rolmaz | Jan 4, 2007 10:28:23 AM | Request Removal

If any Norwegian employer paid his empoyee the American minimum wage, he would be condemned on the front page of one of the national papers, and quite rightly so, as has happened when immigrant workers have been paid as little as $ 15 an hour. Why is it that the richest and most powerful country on the earth cannot guarantee their citizens a decent living even when they have a job? Yours sincerely Ole A. Brønmo
By ole.a.bronmo | Jan 4, 2007 10:34:38 AM | Request Removal

Good to see you have started your new collection of op-eds, George F. Will: Struggling for Relevance in a Post-Conservative Era.
By ColdFireHunter | Jan 4, 2007 10:35:14 AM | Request Removal

G Wills economics 101 bs is straight out of the mind of Mr Burns on the Simpsons. Low income people are not carefully evaluated and paid what they deserve, they fall into jobs they must take and can not get out of. At lower wage levels the fantasy of everyone speeding around the economy improving their incomes as they educate themselves and prove their worth is just that, a fantasy. Lowering the minimum wage threatens every person who earns more than it too, everyone in the sub $25 hr range would be threatened with a pay drop. But, if it created a situation where every sub $25 person WENT OUT AND VOTED EVERY ELECTION, it might actually be good, wed throw out the corporate lackies we have, and get a populist government, thats for sure! Good way to stop corporate wars, corporate tax favors, corporate judicial system, corporate everything. Ha ha George may be on to something!
By cxk2 | Jan 4, 2007 10:36:26 AM | Request Removal

There is no need to increase the minimum wage. It should be left as is. The minimum wage is meant to be a baseline for starting jobs, not as a way to make a living. Raising the minimum wage has a domino effect on the wages of hourly labor. Consider this scenario. Person A is making $5.15 an hour and Person B is currently making $7.25 an hour. Person B has more experience and has earned raises by working hard and being successful. Person A is just starting out with no experience or track record. Is Person A worth the same as Person B? After minimum wage is raised SHOULD they be worth the same? Person B and C are going to want a raise to compensate for the other factors. If the businesses are to keep their expenses at the same levels, they have the following choices: 1. Lower the number of hours to each person 2. Lower the number of employees 3. Raise prices None of these are particulary good to be forced upon a business. In the short term, the employees will get more money. In the long term, prices for goods will increase negating the raise. Whats the easy answer then is, raise the minimum wage and start the cycle again. This is all simple economics. The correct answer is not to raise the minimum wage, but to give incentives to the workers to get an education, get additional training to move them to jobs that will pay more than the minimum wage. There will always be a need for entry level labor. However, we need to give the employees THAT WANT to better themselves the tools to get to the next rung in the labor market.
By astrojoe88-washpost | Jan 4, 2007 10:40:57 AM | Request Removal

Isnt it about time this old dinosaur was put out to pasture. He sits there trying to look like some wise old paternal grandfather when in reality hes just another antiquated conservatve hack. Point in fact...he sat there chiding Colin Powell THAT HE,D BETTER GET ON BOARD the WMD bandwagon or get dumped...and we all know what happened after that...the infamous UN address....no WMD,S and Powell looking like an Uncle Tom.....its time to put this old dinosaur out to pasture
By staggerlee | Jan 4, 2007 10:41:21 AM | Request Removal

I should get at least $7.50 for reading this tripe.
By irae | Jan 4, 2007 10:41:22 AM | Request Removal

Well, $0 would seem to be an appropriate wage for Mr. Will, so maybe he has a point.
By marykkennedy | Jan 4, 2007 10:41:30 AM | Request Removal

G Wills economics 101 bs is straight out of the mind of Mr Burns on the Simpsons. Low income people are not carefully evaluated and paid what they deserve, they fall into jobs they must take and can not get out of. At lower wage levels the fantasy of everyone speeding around the economy improving their incomes as they educate themselves and prove their worth is just that, a fantasy. Lowering the minimum wage threatens every person who earns more than it too, everyone in the sub $25 hr range would be threatened with a pay drop. But, if it created a situation where every sub $25 person WENT OUT AND VOTED EVERY ELECTION, it might actually be good, wed throw out the corporate lackies we have, and get a populist government, thats for sure! Good way to stop corporate wars, corporate tax favors, corporate judicial system, corporate everything. Ha ha George may be on to something!
By cxk2 | Jan 4, 2007 10:42:17 AM | Request Removal

Retire
By john_p_wellman | Jan 4, 2007 10:44:56 AM | Request Removal

Well, $0 would seem to be an appropriate wage for Mr. Will, so maybe he has a point.
By marykkennedy | Jan 4, 2007 10:46:08 AM | Request Removal

Somebody please let on where this idiot Will has his after work libation, Id like to cozy up to him at a bar and and have a little man to man chat. Its about time these corporate jerks feared the little guy.
By cxk2 | Jan 4, 2007 10:47:19 AM | Request Removal

George Will took the along way around to get to the point: if workers were worth more, they could get paid more. Forcing labor rates is how the labor unions have destroyed American industry and put themselves out of work.
By macholdings | Jan 4, 2007 10:49:01 AM | Request Removal

I dont see why the federal govt. should be getting involved in minimum wages. I think states can do that just fine. What is often given as a reason not to raise the MW is that it discourages employers from hiring unskilled workers. OK, START them at a low minimum wage, BUT mandate automatic increases after a given time period.
By rjma | Jan 4, 2007 10:49:24 AM | Request Removal

Has Will been living in the same last century that I have? He points out that the minimum wage has existed since the 30s, and then complains that it is a boogeyman thats going to destroy the economy. Look, just because you can use the word encomium in a sentence doesnt mean you have the slightest real grasp of history.
By elbruce | Jan 4, 2007 10:51:35 AM | Request Removal

Dear Mr. Will, Much of the working poor earn more than the minimum wage, you write. Why such concern about those on the lower end of the American wage system? Id like to see you devote a column to the $210 million compensation package given to ineffective chief executive Robert Nardelli, which I gather is in addition to a truly huge golden hello he received. I see no justification for such pay scales and would like to hear your thoughts. Ron Lora
By ronlora | Jan 4, 2007 10:52:50 AM | Request Removal

George Wills utopian thinking is so out of character with the recent changed political landscape, he fails to realize libertarianism died with Katrina. Minimum wage is one of the domains where government oversight is beneficial to society,
By whmcgee | Jan 4, 2007 10:54:18 AM | Request Removal

I usually disagree with everything George Will writes. In like manner, I disagree with everything in this article except its conclusion. The government should not be in the business of establishing minimum wages. People have been sold on the idea that the minimum wage is a fair wage. Its not! The minimum wage is used to keep people put down and allow big business to prosper. The minimum wage reduces the ability of trade unions to seek fair equity for the services that they provide. It de-moralizes workers and discourages people from learning trades. Abolishing a minimum wage would not mean that workers would have to compete with people living in huts in China. It would simply mean that each of us would need to take pride in our work, produce a quality product, and expect a fair and just compensation.
By larry.shirley | Jan 4, 2007 10:55:05 AM | Request Removal

Well, $0 would seem to be an appropriate wage for Mr. Will, so maybe he has a point.
By marykkennedy | Jan 4, 2007 10:56:15 AM | Request Removal

I think the WaPo should pay Will what is labor is worth--$0. He has the minimum understanding of the ways of the world. What an idiot? Does the WaPo actually pay this ahole for this drivel?
By pjwhite530 | Jan 4, 2007 10:56:27 AM | Request Removal

I agree. I think the only guranteed wage should be for those whose creativity is such that they could actually write books about baseball authoritatively despite the fact that they have never stood within 200 feet of a breaking curve ball in a real game.
By m1tank | Jan 4, 2007 10:56:47 AM | Request Removal

LABOR IS A COMMODITY? No it is a term for working human beings who just voted this kind of twisted moral failure out of office.
By mdamir | Jan 4, 2007 10:58:16 AM | Request Removal

Lets bring back feudal landlords and the company store! When all the property and most of the money is in the hands of the genius upper classses then I see no need to pay anyone anything. If they want to eat they will work! Money belongs to those smart enough to contol it for their own benefit, little people should be glad we let them breath our air.
By cxk2 | Jan 4, 2007 11:00:27 AM | Request Removal

Where do these figures come from? Did Mr. Will miss the lesson in college where you are supposed to cite your sources? The Washington Post editors should be embarrassed for publishing this. Not because of the actual message, but because the quality is atrocious and would have received a big fat F in a respectable college classroom.
By Axana | Jan 4, 2007 11:00:35 AM | Request Removal

Minimum wage is supposed to be a baseline for starting jobs, and not a wage to make a living on...however the reality is that people are being forced to make a living on minimum wage. In a perfect world, minimum wage would be reserved for high-school kids looking for part time work and college kids looking for work experience, but this is not the case. The majority of people who are working minimum wage jobs are those who dont have a choice! I have YET to hear a single person state that they loved their minimum wage job and would stay there forever if they could. These people desperately want to get out of their situation, but their circumstances and past decisions often hinder and prevent it. Given the current situation, it is important for us to deal with the situation as it stands, not the situation as how it should be in a perfect world. This is where those on the far left and right have a problem...dealing with the imperfect world and setting policies that help us navigate through it.
By jordansim | Jan 4, 2007 11:02:30 AM | Request Removal

Axana In fairness to GW, it is an opinion column where citations are not normally used. Will has at least ten lackies who worship his bowtie running to the library to look things up. And, he is a clear and concise writer, and he uses big words to impress. It is actually an A product writing class wise, it is F quality work for public policy class. Thtas the run, he sounds smart but he is an evil idiot.
By cxk2 | Jan 4, 2007 11:05:05 AM | Request Removal

Somebody please let on where this idiot Will has his after work libation, Id like to cozy up to him at a bar and and have a little man to man chat. Its about time these corporate jerks feared the little guy.
By cxk2 | Jan 4, 2007 11:06:51 AM | Request Removal

We could get him at the ballpark! Lets start the MAKE G WILL UNCOMFORTABLE AT THE BALLPARK SOCIETY! You can run George but you cant hide.
By cxk2 | Jan 4, 2007 11:08:23 AM | Request Removal

Christ George, what will it take for you knucle draggers to learn! You NeoCons have already had your day and it didnt work. After starting a needless War in Iraq and throughly botching it,destroying any illusion of fairness in this countrys Tax system for the sake of the very well off, gutting our nations environmental laws on behalf of major polluters world wide and managing to destory 60 years of world wide good will and trust in the American way of life, you folks are now trying to tell the nation that we dont need a minimum wage and that its only a needless hold over from the New Deal? How Much credibility do you Guys think you have with the American people at this point in time George?
By kenttaucer | Jan 4, 2007 11:10:24 AM | Request Removal

Like the author, Im also a well-off white guy, but Ill keep comments about the minimum wage to myself until I actually have to live on less than $10 an hour.
By s-wieland | Jan 4, 2007 11:10:56 AM | Request Removal

Why not simply allow employers to return to the good old days, when they could rape their employees at liberty?
By wordsmyth1 | Jan 4, 2007 11:11:36 AM | Request Removal

Has anyone at the Washington Post fact checked this article? It is well known that George Will likes to distort or misrepresent facts in his writings See his column on Jim Webb. How do we know that the figures he quotes are true?
By Enough | Jan 4, 2007 11:12:15 AM | Request Removal

How would Will the Wizard prevent companies from taking advantage of workers without a minimum wage?
By turnercbs | Jan 4, 2007 11:12:55 AM | Request Removal

Some journalists who should be impartial in their writings, lose credibility by taking positions that seem to come from Limbaugh, OReilly, Anne Coulter, et al. The guys in wall street who make millions a year, of course, are against increasing the minimum wage they might have to pay for it. I have noted that those who claim that raising the minimum wage will force the corporations to move somewhere else, dont know what they are talking about or thanks to their partiality dont see the trees from the forest. Just let me mention: Toyota and they pay way above minimum wage. Hyundai and many others that come to the states. Its obscene that in todays millions there are people considered poor and indigents. Families on the street and corporations such as Halliburton stealing millions of dollars a week and this so called journalist does not raise an eyebrow. Hypocrite.
By jigomez0441 | Jan 4, 2007 11:12:59 AM | Request Removal

While I cannot disagree with the facts, and indeed, the conclusions you presented, the fundamental issue is truly whether or not labor is, or should be, merely a commodity. I respectfully suggest that this represents the ultimate de-humanization of economic theory, based on the assumption that economics can exist without humans. I would suggest reserving the labor equals commodity equation for robots. For humans, I would respectfully submit that no one aspires to have their own labor viewed as a commodity, regardless of their economic activity. In fact, it is the labor of others that is always viewed as a commodity, exclusively by those whose own labor is not a commodity. Thus a political twist is an inherent part of the discussion. There is an entirely relevant discussion being avoided here, that is whether or not our economic system is truly serving the needs of all stakeholders, human, that is. That is, is our profit-oriented economic systen ultimately a people-focused economic system? Clearly history has proven that unfettered capitalism produces grevious exploitation of labor. The challenge is thus to provide labor-cost flexibility for business, while maintaining a minimum standard for decency and respect for workers. I believe that the solution lies perhaps not in a minimum wage, but in a minimum set of benefits, to which all employees are entitled: health care, vacation, sick leave, family time. No doubt, it will be a challenge to figure out how to pay for these luxuries, though we will all benefit from them.
By gauravgoel | Jan 4, 2007 11:13:41 AM | Request Removal

Oh boo hoo! Poor Will has to live in a country with a minimum wage! What an ignorant jerk. To be expexted from Will.
By teknofyl | Jan 4, 2007 11:14:07 AM | Request Removal

If the minimum wage is such a stupid idea, how about a MAXIMUM Wage Bill, Georgie? No one really needs more than one million in annual earnings. If you are a really greedy pig, then I propose a loophole. Since we seem to be in a constant state of war, ala 1984, I suggest a bonus of $100,000 a month for every citizen yearning to break through the income cap ceiling...providing the entire thirty days no exceptions is spent as a rifleman on the most hazardous front lines.
By terrancedeemer7793 | Jan 4, 2007 11:14:15 AM | Request Removal

Mr Will cant help but revert to his hatred of FDR because, because, because he was right and effective and beloved by Americans. Its more than a little hypocritical for social Darwinists like Will to revile FDR when, under his leadership, America defeated Nazi Germany, Imperialist Japan and Fascist Italy in the same amount of time that their boy, President George the Monkey, has not been able to defeat Iraq and Afghanistan, who are I think its fair to say are somewhat farther down the superpower ladder. Dont begrudge the working poor and kids just entering the job market a small raise Mr Will.
By rkerg | Jan 4, 2007 11:14:29 AM | Request Removal

Now I understand why a supposed conservative like George Will is FOR gun control. He doesnt want the government interfering with the markets plan to reinstitute slavery - the usurious credit goliaths already reintroduced indentured slavery with the help of Congress last year -, but he does wish to declaw the more uppity slaves, lest they take up arms against massah.
By jc | Jan 4, 2007 11:14:44 AM | Request Removal

cxk, just stating where the figures came from, i.e. According to statistics from the Dept. of Labor, would have sufficed. Currently, there is nothing to prove that Mr. Will did not pull these figures completely out of thin air, and that is what is most troubling.
By Axana | Jan 4, 2007 11:15:01 AM | Request Removal

Perhaps the Democrats are not taking a page from FDRs first 100 days but actually taking a page from the Republicans Contract on Americans from 1994. If my memory serves me correctly and it does it was Gingrich and his gang of disgraced and disgraceful lawmakers, including Tom Delay and John Boehner, who promised certain legislation within the first 100 days in 1994. Do you think that the republicans perhaps were wishing for the days of FDR in 1994 since obviously FDR was their role model at least for the first 100 days idea. Please direct your snide, irrelevant comments aimed at the true no new ideas and stay the course crowd and not the 5 of people who are still around during FDRs presidency.
By hikealot2003 | Jan 4, 2007 11:16:35 AM | Request Removal

Enough - since this is an opinion piece very little in terms of research and proof is required. Propaganda is allowed free reign. A reign of error.
By sargon20 | Jan 4, 2007 11:16:41 AM | Request Removal

George, how do you sleep nights? Do the math. At $5.15 per hour, the worker earns $206. per week. Many of these workers are single Moms. Could you support a family on that sum? Your arguments against raising the minimum wage are laughable. It would cause teenagers to drop out of school? Puh-leeze! Thats a trivial consideration when stacked up against the rest of the workers earning coolee wages. How can they afford adequate health care, food, shelter, etc. First and foremost, single Moms must pay to replace themselves at home. Wake up and smell the coffee, George. Many workers are seniors, looking to supplement Social Security. Without an increase in the miniumum wage, they might drop out of living. Of course many states established living wages for their citizens Thats due to the myopic lawmakers who, like you, are insulated from the people who are clawing and scraping to make a living. I am sickened by people like you whose only priority is the gross national product. Those who justify greedy corporations who take advantage of the workers to inflate the dividends. We are not all created equal, George. If you had been born into poverty, without a family to instill the proper values, without the wherwithall to send you to the best schools, you would not have attained the position you have. We dont all inherit the same IQs and talents. Your refusal to feel empathy for those whose lot in life is much beneath yours is criminal.
By llilja17 | Jan 4, 2007 11:17:18 AM | Request Removal

Lies, damned lies and statistics, goes the old Mark Twain quote. Mr. Will adroitly lists a small bevy of statistics that supports his point. But one cant escape the feeling that he assiduously misses the point. Americans, by and large, are broke and getting more broke and find it increasingly difficult to live on their income amidst constantly rising prices for basic necessities, like food and housing. Methinks he leads a very sheltered life in a sheltered and wealthy community.
By carlboudreau | Jan 4, 2007 11:20:00 AM | Request Removal

Right, lets depend on the sense of decency of Corporate America to give Americans a living wage. Anytime Corporate Americahas been given the opportunity to do the right thing, all the American workers got in return is a big F-you. George Will is so divorced from the economic realities of this country that he should be embarrassed to even write a column about it. I say WP and the other nice polite media outlets that give this elitist snot a soapbox should start paying him what hes worth: $0. Lets see how he feels about buying his bowties at Wal-mart. Wake up, WP. George is just coasting on his own elitist prejudices. Time to cut him loose.
By akmhorne | Jan 4, 2007 11:21:11 AM | Request Removal

In Applied Economicsa book I recommended in an earlier post, professor Sowell defines stage-one thinking as viewing policies based on their hoped-for results. But for purposes of economic analysis, what matters is not what goals are being sought but what incentives and constraints are being created in pursuit of those goals p2. Mr. Will, unlike many of you, gets this and has moved beyond stage-one noting the effect of minimum wage increases on high school drop out rates. Now, if you all think that, in an economy that requires higher levels of human capital than in the past, the federal government should encourage such behavior and condem the youths of America to lives of squalor and underachievement, then by all means, increase the minimum wage. I thought you people cared.
By dvgulla | Jan 4, 2007 11:21:27 AM | Request Removal

The problem is that demand for almost everything is elastic: When the price of something goes up, demand for it goes down, according to Mr. Will. This applies to wages for the lowest-paid and hardest-working citizens of our country. It would not seem to apply to those who run the companies they work for. How would Mr. Will explain the continuing demand for CEOs when their wages reach up into the millions? For example, Robert L. Nardelli is receiving $210 million in severance and stock options as he resigns from his chairmanship of Home Depot. His compensation, including stock options, last year was $31 million, despite the fact that the companys stock value was slipping badly. Numerous other examples of outrageous compensation for top executives abound. Using Mr. Wills logic, there should be no demand at all for top executives. Mr. Will seems mean-spirited when he suggests that the poorest among us should receive no more than they are now getting while he enjoys the relatively high salary of a syndicated columnist. David Gordon
By david_kathygordon11 | Jan 4, 2007 11:23:13 AM | Request Removal

What I want to know is why Will writes such morally and factually bankrupt posts, such as the recent one that relied on distortions to smear Jim Webb. Does the Post approve of what Will is doing because there is no such thing as bad press so he increases readership? If so, we are actually contributing to Wills job security when we post complaints about him or even merely click on his column.
By gandalf12345 | Jan 4, 2007 11:24:14 AM | Request Removal

WaPo - youre still letting this twerp write???
By kargovroom | Jan 4, 2007 11:25:48 AM | Request Removal

Excellent idea, Terrance. Maximum wage! That ought to make George choke on his vodka tonic.
By akmhorne | Jan 4, 2007 11:26:07 AM | Request Removal

Enough - since this is an opinion piece very little in terms of research and proof is required. Propaganda is allowed free reign. A reign of error.
By sargon20 | Jan 4, 2007 11:26:34 AM | Request Removal

George Will quote Conservatives should want, as the president proposes, a guest worker program to supply what the U.S. economy demands -- immigrant labor for entry-level jobs. Conservatives should favor a policy of encouraging unlimited immigration by educated people with math, engineering, technology or science skills that Americas education system is not sufficiently supplying. end quote from Guard the Borders -- And Face Facts, Too By George F. Will Thursday, March 30, 2006 Page A23. Will gets corporate speaking fees and says those are his business. Will wants a 0 minimum wage and wants to match any willing worker in the world to that wage. If a job takes the back, its for a Mexican. If it takes the brain, its for an Indian. Americans get 0 because they dont pay Will speaking fees.
By OldAtlantic | Jan 4, 2007 11:28:50 AM | Request Removal

Time to get on your buckboard and ride off into the sunset !
By Bob.Edwards | Jan 4, 2007 11:29:49 AM | Request Removal

macholdings I appreciate you being concise, but wow are you wrong. No workers, no businesses! Employers have been living a dream world since Reagan fired the air traffic controllers and got union busting back in vogue. Well its a swinging pendulum of course, like all things American, and it is time for workers to organize and put massive pressure on all businesses, period. Their own wild greed will always force businesses to pay out to stay in the game. This disorganized labor of the last fifteen years is just a phase. When corportate big shots cant get an elevator to the penthouse and have to take the stairs a couple times theyll pay the elevator repair guy, and his low wage assistant, what they want.
By cxk2 | Jan 4, 2007 11:31:02 AM | Request Removal

Are you sitting on a tack, George? What makes you so mean?
By durackld | Jan 4, 2007 11:32:47 AM | Request Removal

This just confirms that you have never been poor and had to fight just to make ends meet. You sir are part of the problem, just another prejudice elitist.
By gjenkins23 | Jan 4, 2007 11:32:57 AM | Request Removal

George Will should get on his knees every day and thank his whitebread Protestant creator that he was born male, white and economically advantaged in 20th century America, because I dont think he could deal with crushing inequalities that a goodly number of the people of this Earth have to deal with. And I say goodly because it seems like a nice whitebread word that George would appreciate.
By akmhorne | Jan 4, 2007 11:33:42 AM | Request Removal

kevinfletcha: I have indeed worked for the minimum wage...when I was a teenager! If you are supporting a family for less than $10 an hour, then, Im sorry, but you have made some really bad decisions in your life. Touche on the short work week of academia. It is a nice perk of the job. Since I have made good decisions in my life a few bad ones too, of course, I can enjoy a rather flexible work schedule. I find it interesting though that you immediately assumed that I must live off some sort of inheritance. Unfortunately, that is not the case, but it does suggest that you must have some issues with wealth accumulation.
By dvgulla | Jan 4, 2007 11:34:48 AM | Request Removal

George, If you want to eliminate the minimum wage and treat labor as a commodity, then lets eliminate all immigrant workers both legal and illegal. If only U.S. citizens were allowed to work in the U.S., you would soon see wages increase drastically as employers would be competing for workers.
By reightler2 | Jan 4, 2007 11:35:34 AM | Request Removal

George Will’s claim that the market should be allowed to set the all rates and we should eliminate the minimum wage defies the reality of what happens, and recent history clearly documents, when there is none: payment in script, the ability to manipulate immigrants and pay them less then they agreed to initially, or nothing and grotesque abuse of migrant workers. The minimum wage gives legal protection to those who need it the most. A standard is set and enforceable and is known to all. Only the elite like George Will and George W. Bush could suggest we eliminate the minimum wage. When your life consists of being sent to the best schools, despite not being qualified for admittance, living off the inheritance, getting jobs via family connections and never having to swab floors, make beds, stock shelves or carry lumber, real work, its easy to suggest eliminating the minimum wage. Those of us that work for a living know why we need a minimum wage and why an increase is long over due.
By winkwi | Jan 4, 2007 11:36:43 AM | Request Removal

Minimum wage should be seen as a cost imposed by society on the companies which want to operate within USA. I do not know what should be the exact value of the minimum wage, but I do know that Congress is, at least at this moment, the only entity that seems legitimate to set this minimum wage.
By alextor01 | Jan 4, 2007 11:37:06 AM | Request Removal

Another neo-con fascist working for WA-PO. How fitting.
By sprtsmn79 | Jan 4, 2007 11:37:07 AM | Request Removal

Hes sitting on a pole. For the record I would be happy to write Wills next article for half of what he charges, hes very easy to imitate, just be as big a stuck up snotnose twit as possible.
By cxk2 | Jan 4, 2007 11:37:35 AM | Request Removal

Enough - since this is an opinion piece very little in terms of research and proof is required. Propaganda is allowed free reign. A reign of error.
By sargon20 | Jan 4, 2007 11:38:07 AM | Request Removal

Fool. Old adage - money means less to the people who have a lot. You cant apply free market economics to poverty
By Polaris1 | Jan 4, 2007 11:42:48 AM | Request Removal

Will, you have helped provide the pseudointellectual underpinnings for the Antichrist ever since you began touting for Ronald Reagan. Yes, I said it and I meant it.
By kargovroom | Jan 4, 2007 11:43:18 AM | Request Removal

If we cant get rid of the tens of millions of illegal aliens who pull our standard of living down towards third-world conditions, and our wages too, there is little point to having a minimum wage at all.
By mttocs | Jan 4, 2007 11:43:40 AM | Request Removal

The demonization Will receives on this issue is unerringly justified, in my opinion. To think that keeping the minimum wage at the barest minimum serves any purpose but to enrich the rich and disempower the poor is not only unreasonable, but cruel. Americans have been brainwashed into diluting the power of their labor capital by sneering at unionization, it was unions that put an abrupt end to the days of the robber barons and helped create the middle class. America read your history!!
By ethan.quern | Jan 4, 2007 11:43:52 AM | Request Removal

May be we democrats and independents have New Deal nostalgia, but that is not as shameful as Slave Age nostalgia when as George Will wants know the minimum wage was $0.00 As long as greed can not be eradicated from the human psyche I think minimum wage seems a good idea.
By fparraga | Jan 4, 2007 11:44:15 AM | Request Removal

Wills obviously has never seen the bottom a mayonnaise jar like the rest of us commoners have. Get a grip and do your homework. The median income changes from state to state, and minimum wage doesnt cut it in ANY state.
By kgotthardt | Jan 4, 2007 11:45:32 AM | Request Removal

As usual, George, you have it nailed. Too bad legislators care more about feel-good politics than common sense leadership.
By jiju1943 | Jan 4, 2007 11:48:45 AM | Request Removal

One could believe that an economy was for the well-being of societys members. But we get around that by detaching labor from people. So we pay for labor, not for people. It is a shame that robots cannot do everything. Then the country could consist of a million or so fat cats and everyone else can be herded into holding pens or just left to die. Maybe Mr. Will would like to read the preamble to the Wagner Act. Apparently some fairly smart people realized that there is not a free market in employment. It seems as though they realized that power dynamics determined wages, not value. Apparently the Post needs to balance their editorials with the simplistic. Mr. Will fits the bill perfectly.
By j_and_sg | Jan 4, 2007 11:49:18 AM | Request Removal

George Will is right. We should all act like we live in some sweat-shop-friendly Third World country where they treat people like expendable commodities to be used up and then thrown away. Oh, wait -- that would be nostalgia on Wills part, then, for the good old days of the Gilded Age. Why not also dismantle our child labor laws while were at it? You know, whats sad and pathetic about arguments by conservatives like Will is that while the majority of FDRs New Deal programs have not only been hugely successful and popular for decades, most of these hare-brained free market schemes that keep coming down the line from Will and ilk tend to benefit a tiny, ultra-weathy fraction of the population. If George Will advocates a straight-out plutocracy, he should have the cojones to say so. Until then, I support government policies that treat its citizens like, you know, human beings.
By funhaus5 | Jan 4, 2007 11:51:37 AM | Request Removal

How ironic that this op-ed appears the same day as the following piece about the former CEO of Home Depots generous severance package: It is, indeed, a sad state of affairs in our country when men like Mr. Nardelli walk away with millions in the wake of, at best, sloppy management of a company, while millions of Americans struggle to make ends meet earning stagnant wages. Mr. Will denigrates the simple value of fairness embodied in much of the legislation that came out of the New Deal while carefully cherry-picking statistics that seem to contradict the overwhelming majority of economists opinions that a modest, gradual increase in the minimum wage would be a positive thing for millions of American workers and, in turn, a positive step for the nations economy as a whole:
By jansoncl | Jan 4, 2007 11:52:38 AM | Request Removal

Mr. Will should be fired. Its one thing to debate a point of view, to at least be able to see the point of view of the other side. But its another thing to be, in this case which is similar to many in which he spews his purely biased opinions, completely ignorant of how many folks struggle to survive in todays America. Frankly, Im disgusted that this rich guy is allowed the megaphone of the national media. His time is past. DUMP GEORGE WILL. Maybe if he is exposed to the reality of an unemployment line or a minimum wage job he would wake up to the reality of the exploitation of the poor in this country.
By dgeise | Jan 4, 2007 12:00:07 PM | Request Removal

Good old George. Cosseted and comforted in a private bubble sheltered inside the aberrant microcosm of American society that is the center of the beltway circle, he dribbles turgid circumlocutions. Protected from the realities of American society, he doesnt see human beings outside his own circle of the wealthy and important. He deals in abstractions, statistics, averages, numbers, never examining why the needs of food banks grow, not decline, never asking why two income families in some jursidiction have to rely on emergency housing. George might learn something about real life if he got out in the real world, but hes just too comfy where he is.
By olroy | Jan 4, 2007 12:01:02 PM | Request Removal

Does anyone listen to you anymore? You recycle all the arguments weve all heard before, though I admit the one about increasing the wage by ten percent increases droupouts by two percent is new to me. So what? If those individuals think one or two more dollars is a good thing who are you to disagree? Allowing unrestricted immigration of folks who will work for less than an established citizen puts unfair pressure on those of us who think that in this great land we ought to expect we can earn a livable wage. The spectacle of businessmen/women conducting a sort of reverse bidding war of workers offering to work for less than their fellows will no doubt titilate the business community, and you, sir, as profits rise while wages stagnate, like now, or fall. Funny states rights appeals to conservatives when profits are involved, but vanish when compassion is involved. So compassionate conservatives want: outsourced jobs, no minimum wage, no support for the Arts, no support for education, privatized SSA ... who gets the profits for that? ... , rampant incarceration for non-violent crimes, and increased surveillance of our people. The idea is, I guess, that we can pay the least wages to prisoners. Checked the prison industry growth, lately. I stopped reading news magazines years ago, especially the one you wrote for. Youre a dinosaur. Get extinct, soon.
By Dankhank | Jan 4, 2007 12:05:29 PM | Request Removal

Raising the minimum wage, is a bribe payed to the poor, in an attempt to keep them in their place. Heaven forbid that they should become fed up with their lot to the point that they take steps to rise above their station. Instead, lets bribe them with enough money to enjoy one more small creature comfort, so they will have no reason to strive for more. We can either teach men to fish, or we can provide them with a slightly nicer fish than they are now used to for the rest of their lives. Which of those do you wish for your children?
By kesac | Jan 4, 2007 12:09:44 PM | Request Removal

A $0 minimum wage, good idea. Lets repeal child labor laws while were at it. Sorry George, you couldnt be more wrong about this one. While the rich have gotten so much richer in the last 20 years, the middle class has suffered terrible wage stagnation - because, quite simply, the floor has not been moved up. If the minimum wage goes up to $7.25, then all those folks now making $7.50 will be making $9 or 10. Those making $9 or $10 will now make $12...and so on, and so on...
By bmeisler | Jan 4, 2007 12:12:46 PM | Request Removal

Labor is a commodity?
By bharvirkar | Jan 4, 2007 12:12:54 PM | Request Removal

Will has obviously skipped out on the last twenty years of economics, which explain that the free market is not something that appears in the wild, but only when there are solid institutional prerequisites provided by the state -- for example, against enforced regulations against price fixing. Organized labor came into being precisely because purchasers of labor often wielded monopolistic powers, backed up by state coercion. The notion that the labor market -- or any market -- will behave as a free market if the state is absent is just wrong. Read North. If you are at all concerned about workers bearing transaction costs, that is another reason for state concern. The question is therefore not whether the state should intervene in the labor market, but how.
By nunyo555 | Jan 4, 2007 12:18:15 PM | Request Removal

By George Wills reasoning, everything except labor is entitled to a monetary floor. Dairy enjoys a price floor, tax subsidies to oil producers--if sixty dollar/bbl isnt enough. Inflation adjustments yearly to the pay of all government drones, and of course no-bid contracts to the rest of the well conected. Put a sock in it George, its time labor gained a rightful place at the trough.
By slim | Jan 4, 2007 12:19:42 PM | Request Removal

George F. Will with your fat cat salary, why do care so much about what the guy is paid that fixes your toilet or your lunch for that matter. Remember you get what you pay for and cheap is cheap. Hey why dont you learn Spanish and move to Mexico where labor is so cheap people are dying crossing the desert to find a job to feed their family? For that matter you better learn Spanish so you can get your toilet and lunch fixed in this country. Buena suerte con su escsado y su almuerzo. Y ojala usted no confunde los cosas. Bob in AZ
By rlyoung47 | Jan 4, 2007 12:19:45 PM | Request Removal

I didnt even bother to read the column yet, I have to say though, I want to see where the minimum wage ends up AFTER! we deport 12 to 20 million illegal aliens from this country. I think it will go up to its natural place. Lets just ply the laws of honest supply and demand for labor prices. I will now read the column.
By m.jagger | Jan 4, 2007 12:21:35 PM | Request Removal

A pack of half-truths, outright lies and distortions. George, stick to baseball. Your free-market Gods dont exist.
By tampadave | Jan 4, 2007 12:22:39 PM | Request Removal

so typical. and so easy for wealthy rich privileged old white guys to say. hurry up and go to your mythical place where you never need money or health care or a social safety net again. HURRY!
By spiritwriter | Jan 4, 2007 12:23:35 PM | Request Removal

Republicans like George Will love SLAVE labor. Remember Linda Chavez.
By phoule | Jan 4, 2007 12:23:43 PM | Request Removal

bmeister says,If the minimum wage goes up to $7.25, then all those folks now making $7.50 will be making $9 or 10. Those making $9 or $10 will now make $12...and so on, and so on... I do not think the logic follows. Lets get data from states that have already increased their minimum wage. These are not linked necessarily.
By m.jagger | Jan 4, 2007 12:25:37 PM | Request Removal

The anti-minimum wage arguement goes like this: itll cause people to lose their jobs abd create inflation, leading to the end of civilization. Of course, very few people make minimum wage, so its hard to see how this would snowball into the economic avalanche that is so widely predicted. However, the minimum wage matters a lot to that thin slice of America. It is their fingerhold to the bottom rung of the economic ladder. Would they be better off in prison?
By 567890 | Jan 4, 2007 12:31:42 PM | Request Removal

I think I just vomited a little in my mouth. Wish I had read this gag-o-rrific drivel AFTER lunch.
By smandyj | Jan 4, 2007 12:34:53 PM | Request Removal

Mr. Will is technically incorrect when he states that The problem is that demand for almost anything is elastic . . . ., although he is generally correct when he goes on to say that When the price of something goes up, demand for it goes down. Whether price elasticity of demand is elastic or inelastic is a function of whether the percentage change in demand is greater than or less than the percentage change in price. If the percentage change in the demand by firms for labor is less than the percentage change in price wage, the price elasticity of demand is said to be inelastic. Many economists believe this to be the case at the lower end of the wage spectrum and, consequently, tend to be in favor of raising the minimum wage.
By keithaulrich | Jan 4, 2007 12:35:50 PM | Request Removal

Oh Georgie, if only you could go back in time and strangle Teddy Roosevelt in his crib. Actually I think the WP likes to set you up like a buffoon so we can throw verbal pies at you.
By markswisshelm | Jan 4, 2007 12:36:45 PM | Request Removal

Only one in five workers earning the federal minimum lives in families with earnings below the poverty line. -- Only one in five -- So when that figure hits, two in five or three in five, will Mr. Will change his mind?
By jlindberg | Jan 4, 2007 12:37:59 PM | Request Removal

The comments about Mr. Wills article on raising the minimum wage will have no effect on either Mr. Will or his ilk. Our only hope is in the power of the ballot box. We need to move forth from last Novembers elections and continue to vote the rascals out. In other words VOTE DEMOCRAT.
By the1joncook | Jan 4, 2007 12:38:42 PM | Request Removal

The same template could be applied to why the wealthy should not get more tax breaks or why high end government excecs or corporate excecs should not get the disporportionate salaries or severences they get. When has congress\government\or corporate america giving itself a raise help anyone but the person and family recieving it? It stimulates the economy but in some ways but no more significantly Than tax breaks or raising the minimum wage. George makes this argument of how little minimum wage helps america as if raising the minimum is suppose to do the same thing as tax breaks in regards to stimulating employment or the ecconomy. Tax breaks for the wealthy is a signiture issue with the republicans, what does that say about them if anything?
By gdavis4 | Jan 4, 2007 12:41:07 PM | Request Removal

Mr. Will never ceases to amaze me! What a pile of manure! Did you ever work for minimum wage? Or how about making YOU work for $0! What you fail to factor in, your outstanding economic model, is the price of poverty! And to treat labor a human resource as commodity, is not only demeaning to those humans who work, but also racist. You may want to go back to a time of slavery - when people were traded as commodities - but for that you need to go back and live in the middle ages where you belong. P.S. I havent seen anything written by you about the fleecing of America by the top 1 of the income bracket! Get a life!
By genevieve_krt | Jan 4, 2007 12:43:14 PM | Request Removal

I think a minumum wage of zero cents is way too high. Whoever scrubs Mr. Wills toilet should pay HIM $10 an hour for the privilege. Honestly, Jonathan Swift would be rolling in his grave.
By ahh13 | Jan 4, 2007 12:47:26 PM | Request Removal

Apparently George Will has been rich so long that he can not remember what it is like to struggle financially. Although his entire article is peppered with absurdities, I will only address the three most egregious. First he says that most of the wage workers earning the minimum wage are not poor – does he think that people work for minimum wage by choice? Does he think that they are eccentric millionaires who work for minimum wage for some kind of thrill? Second he states that the average and median household incomes are $63,344 and $46,326, respectively. I would like to see him try to live in any metropolitan area on that amount of money. $60,000 per year would no pay for his luxury car and designer suits. Lastly, he points out that there were only 479,000 people making minimum wage in 2005. Although he doesn’t specifically say it, the implication is that if it is only .6 percent of the population, we don’t need to be concerned. WAKE UP GEORGE!! He is the quintessential Republican – he thinks because he has it good that everyone else does too. He reminds me of another George.
By phantom | Jan 4, 2007 12:53:04 PM | Request Removal

Having the government determine the minimum value of an employee to any employer is foolhardy. But tell that to the miscreants in Congress most of whom have never held job outside of government and are unemployable in private sector. While no bureaucrat is paid the minimum wage, what bureaucrat out of the thousands is worth even $1 per hour much less the minimum wage or what they are paid?
By individual | Jan 4, 2007 12:56:27 PM | Request Removal

How naive do you have to be to believe that the minimum wage should be $0 in a capitalistic society, where profit is the prime motive for corporations, and payroll is their biggest expense. I guess all the working poor could just reduce their supply by not working at all, if corporations start paying wages of 50 cents a day. What world are you living in George?
By bartedson | Jan 4, 2007 1:02:15 PM | Request Removal

George Will is an uptight Protestant reactionary. Naturally he doesnt think a minimum wage is needed.
By ravitchn | Jan 4, 2007 1:02:39 PM | Request Removal

Its regrettable that for a conservative to prove his bona fides in this day and age he must secede from the realities of everyday life. Few people have the wherewithal to inhabit a bubble and forumlate their theories of how the world ought to be, and all of them depend on people who live in the real world so then can remain in their ideal version.
By davidclow | Jan 4, 2007 1:09:12 PM | Request Removal

From a sermon: ...When men come seeking funds for the needy, he retorts: Are there no prisons, no poorhouses? I pay my taxes. His exploitation of his office clerk, shows the greatest of barely legal abuse. Stuck at minimal wages, Crachit is allowed but one ineffectual lump of coal for the office fire and must grovel to secure even Christmas Day away from his desk. Yes, Scrooge is one of those pedagogical figures from Dickens, teaching the brutality of our obsession with personal gain at the expense of the community of concern.
By cxk2 | Jan 4, 2007 1:11:58 PM | Request Removal

No George what truely needs to happen here is that minimum wage needs to be tied to salary of the state legislators congressmen. Just think everytime they vote themselves a raise it goes across the board. Oh Im sorry, I was forgetting that we live in the U.S. In a fair democracy, it would be that we the voters would vote for congresss raises. And for the work that took place in the last few years Congress probably should refund some of their salary. By the results of the election numerous members got fired.
By tom.mcconnell | Jan 4, 2007 1:13:51 PM | Request Removal

I saw at least a half dozen signs avertising wages well below the proposed new minimum wages on my way to and from my mothers home in Tenn this Christmas. This was at interstate serving locations, in the high demand christmas season. The idea that the hike in minimum wage wont help people is simply an intentional lie.
By Muddy_Buddy_2000 | Jan 4, 2007 1:13:55 PM | Request Removal

The old conservative maxim - let the market settle everything. What shallow, greedy sophism Mr. Will is capable of churning out. So according to this opinion piece, or at least how understand his logic, people under 25, and definitely those under 18, are just fine making minimum wage, as it is now. Apparently, their youth, or lack of experience, are adequate recompense and make up for inferior wages. Also, being a student, or a part-time workers entitles one to make less - presumambly all of that free time that students and part-timers enjoyshould also be used to get that coveted second job. Also part - time. Works so well for WalMart employees. Someone should explain to Mr. Will how making minimum wage works in the restaurant trade. I wait, I worked there - its not a bonus on top of your tips, Mr. Will. All restaurant employess must delcare tips as part of their wages - the restaurant assumes that a certain percentage of each employees sales are tips, I recall that it is somewhere around 10 - 12. This is then reduced from your paycheck, your hourly wages, which are already reduced from minimum wage, legally, as is legal for jobs where employees receive tips. Most restaurant employees, after getting their hourly reduced, then having ALL taxes removed from this paycheck, get no money, and at better restaurants, where sales are higher, often end up owing money. People are not commodities - a basic minimum wage should be expected here, and other places around teh world - like China - which wqould go a long way in evening out trade imbalances.
By pereubu2000 | Jan 4, 2007 1:16:53 PM | Request Removal

Like any good neocon, George Will cherrypicks his facts and quotes out of context to make his point. The study he cites linking minimum wage to higher droupout rates is a perfect example. The study found a correlation - not a direct cause-and-effect relationship - between minimum wage and dropout rates - but only for states where compulsory education ends before age 18. In states that require students to remain in school until age 18, there was no correlation whatsoever. In fact, 3 separate studies have come to the same conclusion. His comment about Robert Blackwell is even more egregiously specious. I read the NYTimes article Raising the Floor on Pay. 12/20/06 quoting Blackwell on which Will based his comment. Blackwell was not arguing against a fedeal minimum wage. He wes responding to the suggestion identical to Wills position that the federal government should not set any minimum wage at all but instead leave the issue to the sates. Blackwells commented that the problem with leaving the matter to states was that it encouraged a shift in jobs to states with lower minimum wages. What Will *didnt* mention is that Blackwell is one of more than 650 economists who signed a public petition in 2006 calling on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage. Will cant make a cogent or convincing argument based on the facts, so he twists them to suit his purposes. And this is one of the intellectual giants of the right...
By jjcomet | Jan 4, 2007 1:18:22 PM | Request Removal

In response to Wills suggestion that the minimum wage is an idea whose time came in 1938 and that now it should be $0, let it be known that a $0 minimum wage was an idea that was right for the 1800s--we called it slavery. John Venables, Towson MD
By jdvenables | Jan 4, 2007 1:20:20 PM | Request Removal

Almost nobody reads really long posts, if you want it read, keep it short.
By cxk2 | Jan 4, 2007 1:24:29 PM | Request Removal

I love the way George Will throws big numbers around as though the numbers came from the bible. Its 75.6 million here and 1.9 million there and sixty percent work part-time. George stop reading government handouts. Go out and talk to real people who are earning $6 an hour and ask them what they think about the increase in the minimum wage. My Dad worked for 25-cents an hour in the 1930s. Do you know why? There were no laws in those days forcing employers to pay more.
By zonarosa | Jan 4, 2007 1:26:16 PM | Request Removal

Best post so far, by ahh13: I think a minumum wage of zero cents is way too high. Whoever scrubs Mr. Wills toilet should pay HIM $10 an hour for the privilege. Honestly, Jonathan Swift would be rolling in his grave.
By cxk2 | Jan 4, 2007 1:26:43 PM | Request Removal

Ahhh...for the salad days of the industrial revolution. Lets do away with child labor laws as well while were at it. Those nimble little fingers are an untapped commodity and should be quite useful for something e.g., removing lint from gears, unclogging waste drains, etc.. Oh the proletariat will whine, of course, but not much. They won’t have the time or vigor. Not with the wages they’ll be making. Bully for you George. Another capital idea!
By jwaples | Jan 4, 2007 1:32:03 PM | Request Removal

Government has a responsibility to protect the interests of all its citizens. Government also has a special responsibility to protect the interests of its most vulnerable members: the old, the young, the weak, the infirm and the incarcerated. If we through the government dont provide rules for behavior including economic behavior, like a minimum wage then we will quickly devolve to the Rules of the Jungle. For my special needs childs sake, I hope that it doesnt come to that because he would clearly be prey.
By ivangroznii | Jan 4, 2007 1:33:30 PM | Request Removal

People like George Will should be made to work on minimum wage for a year. Then lets see who squawks.
By sc | Jan 4, 2007 1:41:59 PM | Request Removal

Rules of the Jungle are EXACTLY what they want. No government except the Dept of Defense and the Dept of Justice both exist mainly to ensure no one takes the wealth from the rich.
By sargon20 | Jan 4, 2007 1:43:32 PM | Request Removal

As a commodity, poor George is too old to even join the nazis. Termination is the only answer and let salary be divided between 2 younger brighter heads.
By bpowers | Jan 4, 2007 1:48:31 PM | Request Removal

George Will i dont think ive ever read such a morally corrupt opinion as this you should be made to live on it.
By doug12342 | Jan 4, 2007 1:49:14 PM | Request Removal

If I read George Will right, reducing the minimum wage to $0 should eliminate the illegal immigration problem confronting this country.
By vicsoir | Jan 4, 2007 1:58:53 PM | Request Removal

hey george, considering your infamous past theft of the jimmy carter briefing book for the reagan campaign, i was wondering if you were anywhere near the giuliani posse lately ...
By lindadlong | Jan 4, 2007 2:03:36 PM | Request Removal

Note the wide discrepancy between the average and median incomes. Has the gap between the two always been so great? What does this say about the distribution of wealth in our country?
By sjolliffe | Jan 4, 2007 2:04:25 PM | Request Removal

If your objective is to make the USA into a third world country, this is a great idea. If you are among the wealthy and have no concerns for your own security, but prefer your less fortunate bretheren have nothing, this is probably a bad idea, but one that might be shared by others in your situation. As for Mr. Will, I doubt he ever did an honest days work in his life, and assume he believes no one else in the world or at least this country matters. Self: that is all that is really important, isnt it?
By Lsterne | Jan 4, 2007 2:09:21 PM | Request Removal

Ive read your articles before and generally had no beef with them but this one quite frankly makes no sense at all. As near as I can tell, the crux of your argument is that the minimum wage hike would have no effect, but then you go on to predict doom and gloom that it would bring about. And that doom and gloom is the same tired old crap weve been hearing for years. Yes, raising wages means a hypothetical reduction in employment but in practice this isnt likely. Wallmart and McDonald’s are not going to close because of a slight rise in the minimum wage, nor are they capable of moving their operations out of a state. The point about raising the minimum wage leading to increased dropout rates is interesting and in my mind the most telling one you raise. However, to be blunt, scholars say a lot of things and theres no reason to trust them or their methodologies without so much as a citation. And the government trying to regulate the market isnt exactly anything new.
By gotnone | Jan 4, 2007 2:19:21 PM | Request Removal

This is a shoddy argument drawing on factual tidbits and correlational studies from you cant draw causation, spun together with valid logic, but ignores that fact that the premises is false. Nice try, though. A valid, logical argument isnt necessarily a correct or true argument.
By rstigall | Jan 4, 2007 2:38:11 PM | Request Removal

Its precisely the condescending and elitist conception of labor as a commodity that distinguishes right-wing economic theory from the one which has prevailed, at least to an extent, in this country, since 1932. Human beings are not commodities, and policies must take human welfare into account. Will is a troglodyte of the worst order.
By ionus | Jan 4, 2007 2:43:02 PM | Request Removal

I did not hear Mr. Will bring up the Chicago Stockyards, or the pullman riots, or the etc...Name your company town at the turn of the century.
By m.jagger | Jan 4, 2007 2:49:44 PM | Request Removal

Talk about somebody living with his head up his a**. Let George Will try to live on minimum wage and then see what he has to say. $0 for minimum wage--Republicans just keep getting better and better.
By lorinwilk | Jan 4, 2007 2:57:12 PM | Request Removal

I do not understand why WP misuses its resources by giving this shameless cheerleader of Iraq war - anyspace any where.
By shoreyr | Jan 4, 2007 2:57:21 PM | Request Removal

sjolliffe, I do care about distribution of wealth unlike Mr. Will, but I do not care for re-distribution of wealth. It is a bit paradoxical but if you want to get a head you have to work hard. Some of us start at different points, but it is not just possible but probable, that anyone has the opportunity in the US if they choose. My mother was a 5 time divorce, myself and my 4 other siblings had it pretty tough, but it is not YOUR fault, nor anyone elses that I had to start where I did. It was the fault of my parents and their circumstances where my starting point turned out to be. I began my carrer cleaning the 7-11 parking lot when I was 13, for $1.80 and hour. Min wage was 2.10 I believe, I have since moved up in life some I wonder what that adjusted Min wage would be today hmm. Just a thought.
By m.jagger | Jan 4, 2007 2:58:42 PM | Request Removal

George Will - What a pig.
By kurthunt | Jan 4, 2007 3:18:53 PM | Request Removal

sjolliffe, I do care about distribution of wealth unlike Mr. Will, but I do not care for re-distribution of wealth. It is a bit paradoxical but if you want to get a head you have to work hard. Some of us start at different points, but it is not just possible but probable, that anyone has the opportunity in the US if they choose. My mother was a 5 time divorce, myself and my 4 other siblings had it pretty tough, but it is not YOUR fault, nor anyone elses that I had to start where I did. It was the fault of my parents and their circumstances where my starting point turned out to be. I began my carrer cleaning the 7-11 parking lot when I was 13, for $1.80 and hour. Min wage was 2.10 I believe, I have since moved up in life some I wonder what that adjusted Min wage would be today hmm. Just a thought.
By m.jagger | Jan 4, 2007 3:21:08 PM | Request Removal

How many economists have to agree that raising the minimum wage doesnt have a significant effect on the demand for labor before youll listen to them, instead of trusting your facile interpretation of Econ 101 principles? Anyone who is paying attention to the U.S. economy knows that during the last five years, it has disproportionately rewarded investors and punished workers. That imbalance has severe negative social effects. Raising the minimum wage wont correct it overnight, and isnt nearly the best solution to the problem, but its way better than anything Ive heard you propose of late.
By sean.campbell | Jan 4, 2007 3:22:36 PM | Request Removal

Mr. Will assumes that if an employers wages are too low, they wont be able to find anyone to fill those jobs, and they will have to raise their wages to find qualified employees. This presupposes that employees can just sit and wait in suspended animation until a job with adequate wages comes along. People, unlike material commodities, cant just sit in a warehouse until things get better. We all need to eat. So people take jobs that pay below a living wage just to hang on. Employers count on it. Also, if you have an oversupply of potential employees in one location, you cant just ship them en masse to another location like a trainload of pork bellies. People have homes and families, ties to their communities. Republicans are supposed to be in favor of family values and civic participation. I guess that only applies to people on someone elses payroll.
By n_mcguire | Jan 4, 2007 3:28:10 PM | Request Removal

George Will is a good columnist with an excessive respect for Adam Smith.
By avraamjack | Jan 4, 2007 3:30:05 PM | Request Removal

George Will should be tar and feathered you sir are a heartless neo con of the lowest order may god have mercy on your black soul.
By doug12342 | Jan 4, 2007 3:31:37 PM | Request Removal

I dont know whether its better to go on record with my disapproval of this article -- and everything Will stands for, for that matter -- or to just ignore him. One things sure: Will owes a lot of his readers or at least commenters to Liberal blogs. Heck, maybe thats his reason for writing such incendiary, unsupported drivel all the time: Traffic.
By lgraham1 | Jan 4, 2007 3:32:51 PM | Request Removal

I think somebody is going to wind up in hell.
By kurthunt | Jan 4, 2007 3:38:40 PM | Request Removal

n_mcguire, While I agree in principle that people are not commodities, I disagree with the people can not move around thing. It is the main reason a lot of solvent people detest people in public housing in the middle of a ghetto. Move to where the jobs are!! Living in a depressed area is one thing, but the ghetto will always be the ghetto! My whole youth up to 22 was spent living with my family all around me. I have been in Chicago 20 years because the S.F. bay area was very depressed in the early 80s. I became locked when my kids settled in to their hometown. You gotta do what you gotta do, you are entitled only to PURSUE happiness. Not have it handed to you. Our country is based on the idea of individualism not collectivism, socialism, or communism. You are on your own here, and it is the best on the planet so far. In jamaica if you dont work, you dont eat, you sleep on the street.
By m.jagger | Jan 4, 2007 3:39:53 PM | Request Removal

George, you mean *No minimum wage is needed... as long as we have illegal aliens to work for pennies.* I think you need to flip some burgers for a living, because writing obviously is not your strong suit.
By ccs4756 | Jan 4, 2007 3:44:35 PM | Request Removal

Letting the market decide led to the worst abuses of the late 19th and early 20th century by the lucky sperm set including price fixing, illegal collusion, rigging markets, unsafe working conditions, child labor abuses and market crashes which take a decade to recover from. Please dont mind horribly as we the people decide to stick with rules and regulations derived from some very hard-learned lessons.
By ddeighan | Jan 4, 2007 3:48:17 PM | Request Removal

n_mcguire, While I agree in principle that people are not commodities, I disagree with the people can not move around thing. It is the main reason a lot of solvent people detest people in public housing in the middle of a ghetto. Move to where the jobs are!! Living in a depressed area is one thing, but the ghetto will always be the ghetto! My whole youth up to 22 was spent living with my family all around me. I have been in Chicago 20 years because the S.F. bay area was very depressed in the early 80s. I became locked when my kids settled in to their hometown. You gotta do what you gotta do, you are entitled only to PURSUE happiness. Not have it handed to you. Our country is based on the idea of individualism not collectivism, socialism, or communism. You are on your own here, and it is the best on the planet so far. In jamaica if you dont work, you dont eat, you sleep on the street.
By m.jagger | Jan 4, 2007 3:50:23 PM | Request Removal

and this from George Will who has probably never tried nor had to raise a family on minimum wage.
By OHREALLYNOW... | Jan 4, 2007 4:05:36 PM | Request Removal

And the time for Social Darwinists like George F Will is long past. Obviously a business that cannot at least pay its workers a living wage has no business being in business, and should be free to go the way of other free market Dodos, along with Mr Will. Obviously if you pay workers a decent wage, they can spend it to buy goods and services and grow the economy instead of the rich hoarding all the wealth and using it to overinflate the stock market. Read your Adam Smith, George the man was intensely concerned that the power of labor to bargain for a decent wage would be overmatched by the power of business to replace them cheaply, and the last 200 years have certainly demonstrated just how right he was to all but our blind, deaf and dumb Dickensian aristocrat friends, who just cant seem to EVER learn ANYTHING at all. But why should that be a problem - their pig-headedness doesnt come at their expense, but at the expense of those below them on the eonomic scale.
By jeff | Jan 4, 2007 4:10:12 PM | Request Removal

So why did he leave out the fact of 1.4 million making below minimum wage? Why lie by ommission?
By Dune-Messiah | Jan 4, 2007 4:26:19 PM | Request Removal

I disagree with Mr. Wills assertion that the minimum wage is uneccesary. Having worked for various unscrupulous employers over the years often because I could find no other job at the time, I know full well that these employers would have done their best to pay as low as possible. While labor is indeed a commodity, the thing overlooked completely is the fact, based on both my own experience and what Ive heard/read, that for minimum wage type jobs employers will do everything in their power to keep it as low as possible--including flouting the law on this matter altogether--without a minimum wage, I am certain these employers would pay as little as possible--a quick look at what say Nike pays their people overseas illustrates clearly how they would operate in the US if the law was gone. Perhaps Mr. Will has forgotten, or never personally knew, what its like to be faced with having to take a minimum wage job or be unemployed. I suggest he take a job working at minimum wage for awhile and see then how he views the relevance of a minimum wage.
By Cubby_Michael | Jan 4, 2007 4:29:28 PM | Request Removal

The definition of zero minimum wage is called a slave...something Will could get his mind around.
By gnj1964 | Jan 4, 2007 4:38:58 PM | Request Removal

George Will you are an idiot and I would love to see you live on $40,000 a year, much less minimum wage. You are a typical upper class, arrogant, republican who could care less for the poor and needy. I am sure you support spending billions on a unnecessary war instead of helping the nations poor. It is time for you to retire. You are becoming senile and need to go spend your millions in Palm Beach, or maybe Crawford Texas where you and your buddy George can congratulate each other on being on Americas most hated list. I do not understand why the post lets you post columns anymore.
By banneroos | Jan 4, 2007 4:45:21 PM | Request Removal

Labour is not a commodity and to say so smacks of rank elitism. Labour is the very foundation of all civilizations, its how things are built, and how things go. It occupies a part portion of human existance and therefore takes up a sizable portion of our LIFE. Labour should therefore be given the respect and dignity it deserves. The social contract of our grandfathers is being shredded due to greed. A persons vow to work hard their whole life building, fixing, or supporting something in the name of American productivity use to earn them a wage that would buy them legitamacy in society by way of a decent place to live, a community one could be proud off, and a foundation worthy to build a family on. THAT is what made America supreme through the post-war era. But no more. America is falling because it has forgotton its people.
By dolsen | Jan 4, 2007 4:47:41 PM | Request Removal

If you want individualism, you have to have a government that protects the little guys from the big guys. Otherwise what you have is something called feudalism. And the United States does not have a laissez faire economy or a socialist economy, it has something called a mixed economy. The Wagner Act, the Social Security Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Home Loan Act, etc. etc. are the REASON we had a big prosperous middle class after WWII instead of what we had in the 1920s.
By jeff | Jan 4, 2007 4:50:18 PM | Request Removal

These comments are 15 pages of name-calling, hyper-ventilating, and changing the subject. Folks, that is not a rebuttal. Will is correct, and his reasoning is sound. Wage and price controls by governments ALWAYS have unintended consequences.
By gitarre | Jan 4, 2007 5:01:40 PM | Request Removal

Dear Mr. Will: Please read Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreichs excellent description of what its like to have to work two OR MORE minimum wage jobs in order to both pay the rent and eat. No movies or dinners out except at Burger King second hand clothing no vacations no fun hobbies like golf no Christmas presents for your kids, etc etc etc etc. The so-called free market with its so-called invisible hand is much less than perfect. Yes, it creates wealth, but unless government moderates it, all the wealth flows to those who have and away from those who have not. Property rights trump human rights every time unless government and unions force the decent treatment of employees. The constitution even offers the phrase to provide for the common welfare, meaning not public charity but economic justice.
By bernice | Jan 4, 2007 5:02:34 PM | Request Removal

Mr. Will, I agree with your statement that labor is a commodity, and commodities markets should operate without restraint. That is, unless the scales of the free market are unduly weighted by special interest groups, such as mega-unions, mega-banks, mega-retailers, and mega-corporations. Such entities always seek to corrupt the free market system to their own ends. Enron Corporation sought freedom from trade restrictions in some states, while making huge political donations in others, all to achieve whatever was to its personal short-term advantage. Minimum wage laws attempt, however poorly, to level the playing field for those persons who have the least power over their lives, the least political influence, the least significance in our society. If nothing else, raising the minimum wage affords some dignity to those continually left scraping the bottom of the barrel. Perhaps the question to ask ourselves is how the lower wage rung has been artificially kept so low at a time when labor seems so much in demand.
By kbtoledo | Jan 4, 2007 5:12:27 PM | Request Removal

Each week the Washington Post gets worse and worse. I have just about decided to throw in the towel on your newspaper. That would be a sad day for me, but what is even sadder is reading the garbage that now is The Washington Post.
By ralphgraham | Jan 4, 2007 5:12:54 PM | Request Removal

I like his argument that waiters and waitresses who get tips perhaps not taxed he writes with a prototypically snide-vicious Willian smirk dont need a lift up from their sum-minimum-wage basic wage, which can be as low as $2.13 per hour, I think. But when no customers come through the door, they are folding napkins and filling saltshakers for $2.13. When somebody decides to be a jerk and leave a buck for the tip, or nothing, there goes whatever increment of labor that cover represented--the waitress has just donated her time. Long, long ago it became obvious that Ol Bowtie had a true windbags ability to express thoughts at excessive length, and no heart worth mentioning. I cant wait until he dies, and decreases the surplus population of well-paid pundits. For some of you, Ill add that that is an adaptation of Scrooges words in A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, who nailed the George Will type of man more than 150 years ago in that and other fine novels.
By winterfell99 | Jan 4, 2007 5:13:19 PM | Request Removal

Bush showed his true incompetence by not vetoing the absurdly expensive 2002 farm bill, or the dirty 2005 highway bill larded with 6,371 earmarks. Bush can not have it both ways - if he wants to pave America over to make it even uglier he will pave over the farms which receive his pork barrel government waste. The legislators who funded these 2 bills should be forced to repay taxpayers money out of their own pocket. Next thing old Arbusto will do his fund his vacations clearing brush in Crawford with money from a farm bill while paving over the brush by spending from a dirty highway bill designed to create demand for his government waste fossil fuel subsidies! Arbustos highway robbery must be stopped.
By open | Jan 4, 2007 5:13:21 PM | Request Removal

If nothing else, Mr. Will certainly knows how to stir the pudding and get them talking!
By kbtoledo | Jan 4, 2007 5:18:57 PM | Request Removal

Minimum wage laws absolutely do influence inflation, along with fed banking policies. Too much one way or the other, and those who need incremental income increases the most - the poor, the elderly, the disabled - will certainly find themselves paying a greater proportion of income to cover basic needs. This argument is not as simple as so many responders seem to believe...
By kbtoledo | Jan 4, 2007 5:22:29 PM | Request Removal

People are not commodities. FU GW.
By ralphgraham | Jan 4, 2007 5:33:26 PM | Request Removal

George Will is as outdated as wearing a bowtie! nerdy twit go sit on it!!
By danders5000 | Jan 4, 2007 5:42:18 PM | Request Removal

I always enjoy most of your erudite articles. Have you ever considered a piece on eogcentrism? Our current egocentric in the white house would probably be the most afflicted. A study of egocentrics and their power would be one that you could really tee off on. Thanks John A. Beall
By jabeall | Jan 4, 2007 5:46:18 PM | Request Removal

Wow, this come out of the mouth of the conservative columnist. I guess he prefer slavery system: no minimum wage needed. Oh wait, he cant be slave because he is white and rich. This is what Republicans want: slavery wages. By the way, they are complaining about the low wage that workers get pay in China.
By infoshop | Jan 4, 2007 5:48:39 PM | Request Removal

Government cant be trusted to do the right thing but private industry is less trustworthy than the government. We have had 7 years of hands off govenement and the average american pays more than they ever had while some americans prospered in this era many loss jobs and had to take lesser paying jobs to make ends meet. Wills philosophy works for people who already have, it does not take into account that some people will be at the bottom of the pay scale and should not be forgotten or punished just because of that. We as a society get more upset when a poor person gets more than what we think they deserve than when we hear about corporate execs getting 200m for the equivalent of getting fired. Private industry is equally lousy if not lousier than govenment and thats a sad state to be in. Just look at gas, no bad wheather, no rise in world oil prices and american oil companies are still raising the price of gas just so they can increase quarterly profits. Now do you really trust private industry to do the right thing for all people who work in it? Without governemnt intervening most companies would behave like enron and worldcom.
By gdavis4 | Jan 4, 2007 5:57:19 PM | Request Removal

I hope ole George runs into a dark alley with one of those people that he thinks should get zero minimum wage increases. Maybe he can offer them a good paying job before they mug him.
By gdavis4 | Jan 4, 2007 5:59:22 PM | Request Removal

Nope. Not buying this arguement. The minimum wage is in place to stop Large Business from doing what they want because they can. Small Business is never a Labor Market Profiteer. If they pay minimum on Monday they have no employees by Friday and they know it. If the owner of a small business takes 47 times minimum wage out of the business before he/she can *justify* raising wages then he/she fails. Is that not just what a CEO of a large Corporation is doing ?
By gannon_dick | Jan 4, 2007 6:20:05 PM | Request Removal

Great comp. Needs to be put on leaflets distributed in Pelosis hotel, vineyard whatever else she and her husband use minimum-wage labor. The Dems will never get it: why try to fix what is NOT broken? Theyre too power-hungry to see think about the long term damage their tampering will cause. Ship them all to their home planet of Nonreality.
By estevens | Jan 4, 2007 6:37:50 PM | Request Removal

This is the single stupidest column Ive read all week. No minimum wage? Weve tried that. It was a disaster. The country was split between wage slaves and robber-barons. Is that what Will looks to return the country to? As for labor being a commodity, what about the people doing the labor? Are American citizens to be given no more deference than that given to trees supplying lumber? The problem is that demand for almost everything is elastic is completely false, particularly with respect to labor. Things need to get done, after all. What does Will think all those people earning paychecks get paid for? Sitting around writing ignorant columns?
By ritreplacement | Jan 4, 2007 6:42:40 PM | Request Removal

I recall something that Ann Coultergeist said around the time we were getting ready to conduct our illegal invasion of Iraq. I think that it would be appropriate to quote what she said because it so applies to people like George Will and his ilk. When speaking on the Middle East Annie said, We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. Maybe someone should do this in America. To say that the minimum wage should be 0 would be laughable if it were not so reprehensible. I know Mr. Will appears on FOX NEWS. A perfect forum for the common fascist. Evidently what the American Taliban wants is for the working class people to disappear. But then who would they get to do their work for them?
By groovey411 | Jan 4, 2007 6:42:48 PM | Request Removal

As usual, George Will is a heartless ghoul when writing about anything political.
By al_jal | Jan 4, 2007 6:49:48 PM | Request Removal

Sir You suffer from Right Wing in Mouth Disease, How about you try to live off of 5.15 an hour for a couple years to see how it feels.
By abrahamv | Jan 4, 2007 7:03:51 PM | Request Removal

Why does George Will have a job? Will the Post please rip up his contract already. I suppose Mr. Will and his Republican ilk will be all for child labor too. Its painfully obvious that Mr. Will never worked let alone for a minimum wage job. Its a sad fact in a nation of 300 million that some people do indeed fill those low wage jobs. With inflation and higher-earner wages going through the roof, see all crooked CEO pay packages, the real laborers of this country, those people taking the jobs that Mr. Will would flip a cufflinked hand at and pout, actually need protections against their wages. To leave it in the hands of business, well, hello slave labor. You honestly think that left to their own devices that business will be the ethical and moral barometer of setting wages for their lowest earners???? Mr. Will, get a real job for once in your life. Oh, and ENOUGH OF THE SOUR GRAPES!!! Let the new Democratic Congress do SOMETHING for the American people for a change. Its been 12 years too long.
By iluvkmart | Jan 4, 2007 7:03:56 PM | Request Removal

Well George once again you have put together a meanless column. Great work wish I could get it. The min wage is in place to keep employers from taking complete advantage of the working people. It is a guideline that should at the min be followed to keep folks heads above water. Most local areas already have a min wage which is higher than the fed. This is a good thing and helps folks at least put food on the table. In the world you live n food I guess is not an issue. But some of us it is.
By whalen | Jan 4, 2007 7:44:55 PM | Request Removal

There are millions of adults earning minimum wage. There are also millions of young people that turn to crime because they cant imagine working 40 hours and earning only $200 for their time. It makes me sick to see Republicans that are earing $100,000 or more per year whining against the minimum wage. If a higher minimum wage is bad, how come the New York economy is so much better than West Virginia? The truth is that the more money workers have to spend, the more jobs will be created.
By danbrown | Jan 4, 2007 8:12:33 PM | Request Removal

Maybe in economic theory this is right, but is America only business? Mr.Wills mentality is of a plantation owner where labor has no rights, not even his freedom, slaves were property and slavery was justified under the property rights philosophy of John Locke. Fast forward today workers are commodity, need I say any more?
By vasili | Jan 4, 2007 8:13:45 PM | Request Removal

Poor George, maybe we should make the poor pay for the privilege of working.
By kenward2 | Jan 4, 2007 8:36:05 PM | Request Removal

George Will needs to write a column about the oil companies screwing the federal government out of billions in oil payments. He doesnt know anything about labor. Hell, many bloggers could do his job. His exhorbitant salary certainly hasnt made this a better country. In fact he wasnt worth $7.25 an hour when Bush was selling this war in Iraq.
By darby1936 | Jan 4, 2007 8:47:47 PM | Request Removal

feel-good bit of legislative fluff???????? Shame on you! If you have ever worked in the low-income market, you would never have written such a pretentious article. You could have never had to find ways to live a decent life on a low salary or you would know how hard it is in this society to fear not being able to pay your rent, or pay hospital bills, or wonder how to find a decent running used car, or buy food that isnt cheap junk to stay healthy. Try it sometime, before you speak so authoritatively. This country, with all its massive riches, can afford to spread the wealth more evenly. Just how much do you make?
By rhinehaj | Jan 4, 2007 8:54:19 PM | Request Removal

My name is Sandra Boden. I live in Dayton, Ohio. Only one of my children every worked for minimum wage and that was at Krogers at age of 16. Krogers is a union store and of course he was made to join the union. My other children started out at $9.00/hr or better. This is only with a high school education. I think we need to talk more important things. Let the free market handle it. Thank You.
By spanky6658 | Jan 4, 2007 9:06:04 PM | Request Removal

Wow, the Democrats win an election mainly on war fatigue and now the poor are getting the full Pelosi. If nobody can live on minimum wage why not raise it to $20 an hour and require employers to pay for a reasonable health care plan with a family friendly four weeks of vacation every year? Besides the 12 European-style unemployment rate, the problem is when you take all the profit out of operating a business in this country the capital will go somewhere people are smarter and hungrier. Surely all you good liberals read Friedman’s “The World Is Flat� and swear by every word? How did India pull itself out of poverty over the last 10 years, by “redistributing� wealth or producing more economic output? Why is South Korea an economic miracle compared to North Korea? Think comrades, we have been down this road before remember seventy years of failed harvests?
By thom.yorke | Jan 4, 2007 9:12:12 PM | Request Removal

Wimpy, bowtie wearing freak conservative crybaby. Please, stop whining already! I live in hope that the dems will whip your miserable tails and send you home with a good spanking. If you had been about the business of your country instead of falling on your knees every time Bush said pads you wouldnt be writing this now, would you, lol.
By Soullady48 | Jan 4, 2007 9:41:06 PM | Request Removal

George throws numbers and some of the same, tired arguments that have been wrong before. He also fails to cite verifiable sources. The arrogance of the right - safe in their rectitude and the secure, personal knowledge that Daddy Knows Best, is more than sad - its dangerous. Its sad that they lack the ability to objectively examine their economic track record of the past six years. They need to, even though they are unable to admit that they might be wrong.
By yoopwhip | Jan 4, 2007 9:48:19 PM | Request Removal

Get out of your Ivory Tower Mr. Will!!!!! I have worked at Minimum wage and that is ALL I have to support myself. I have many friends that see this economy leaving them behind. Even if the figures you cite are correct this still means that a large number of Amercians are behind the eight ball when it comes to wages. Considering the obscene wages that many corporate CEOs earn which are considerably above mine and the bonouses they recieved this year I DIDNT get one by the way it is assinine that you suggest that raising the minimum wage is not a good idea. Setting it at $0 as you suggest will only leave the poorest among us vunerable to those that would exploit. You can say what you want living in your Georgetown community, but try making a living on what I make!
By spacestevie | Jan 4, 2007 10:04:54 PM | Request Removal

Regarding G.Wills comments on the MW, Amen to that.
By frankaraila | Jan 4, 2007 10:08:48 PM | Request Removal

Fine. Let the market determine what someones labor is worth. George Will, Im willing to pay you ZERO DOLLARS for your labor, namely, your columns. Perhaps you should look to China, land of intellectual piracy, for an example of the logical conclusion of your ideas. The more I think of this, the more I like it: Wholesale plagiarism of columnists. Then again......what use would I have for George Wills ideas?????
By angelos_peter | Jan 4, 2007 10:56:11 PM | Request Removal

Yeah, cheap shots at the DEMs nostalgia for FDR, but this from a political corner that falls into a swoon whenever Reagan and his fair shakier legacy gets mentioned. Yes, their retroactively and posthumously brilliant Communicator who, apparently, at least understood that the only REAL way to help the poor was to coddle and pamper the rich. Anyway, I agreed with with G.F. Wills on one point: that a Federal Minimum Income is not much of an answer. My answer and President Eisenhowers answer too, by the way: How about a Federal Maximum Income?
By toczyski | Jan 4, 2007 11:08:26 PM | Request Removal

Economics is the study of scarce resources with alternative uses not how much something costs in dollars. Labor is a commodity. Recently in Jacksonville, employers couldnt find diesel mechanics. They offered more money and wouldnt you know people started coming from at least as far as the Carolinas to offer their commodity of skilled labor. Who knew?
By hankypu | Jan 4, 2007 11:17:32 PM | Request Removal

Like it or not, labor was is and will always be a commodity. If it is not, then why do we trade and sell our services to employers? We shouldnt take offense where it is not intended just to avoid an argument, or create one. Minimum wage increases can hurt some small businesses. It wouldnt be out of line for the govt to find a way to subsidize these businesses a little to make the transition easier. But no subsidies to the larger corps who can absorb the increase over time. Im sick of paying farm subsidies to large corps to not grow food!
By kbtoledo | Jan 4, 2007 11:27:21 PM | Request Removal

Mr. Will, you are a fugacious liberal! You think the government should set the minimum wage to $0! There should be NO minimum wage! The most efficient markets are able to charge laborers for the right to work, when possible. I figure you would pay the Post, or some other national media company, over a $1M per annum, if they effectively appealed to your vanity.
By bob11 | Jan 4, 2007 11:53:07 PM | Request Removal

If Charles Dickens were still alive today I am sure he would base a character on George Will, he would probably call him Prissy Pursesnap.
By markswisshelm | Jan 5, 2007 12:44:02 AM | Request Removal

But the minimum wage should be the sameeverywhere: $0. Labor is a commodity governments make messes when they decree commodities prices. And. for the same reasons, the maximum work week should be 168 hours, the minimum working age should be 0yrs, and all regulations on working conditions should be eliminated.
By slo | Jan 5, 2007 12:48:53 AM | Request Removal

Without a minimum wage, wages can fall and keep on falling. This is what happened throughout the 1890’s and the 1920’s as new immigrants competed to get employment. In the 1920’s, the standard of living went up as wages fell because prices fell even faster, but in the 1890’s, prices stayed up, and the poor become poorer. Without a minimum wage, at the margin, someone will always be willing to work for less, and that lesser amount will then become the prevailing wage for all. The argument that the demand for labor is nearly always elastic is FALSE. Some of the least desirable jobs in our society pay minimum wage, but those jobs would still need to be done, no matter what. All the messes we create in our daily life need to be cleaned up everyday. Living in filth leads to death and despair. Its worthwhile to pay the price to clean things up. Nursing home attendants helping people with tasks of daily living are often paid minimum wage unionized attendants often receive over $10 an hour. Hotel maids across the country receive minimum wage, except when and where they have strong unions. Office cleaners receive minimum wage, except those that are unionized. Hmmm. Maybe what we need is not just to raise the minimum wage, but to enable workers to more easily have unions to engage in collective bargaining.
By JoelFriedland | Jan 5, 2007 12:59:14 AM | Request Removal

I consider George F. Will one of the most respectable of the true conservatives, which is why I find it so disappointing to hear him echoing some of the tired an disingenious arguents of the anti-minimum-wage crowd. Yes, most people, even at hourly wage jobs, do make more than minimum wage. Thats because even minimum wage earners get raises. When the minimum wage goes up, those increases translate into higher wages far up the chain. Will they cut into the profits of folks who are socking away huge tax cuts currently? Maybe, but I think those folks have a little more flexibility at the end of the month than someone who has earned two ten-cent-an-hour raises on their minimum wage salary. Oh, and there certainly are places where the free market reigns supreme. Like Haiti. Or Iraq, the noe-cons free market utopia. I think Id rather live in a country where people believe the government can serve the public good. The minimum wage does that.
By gormans | Jan 5, 2007 1:09:43 AM | Request Removal

The minimum wage should be increased the beginning January of each year using the same data that is used to determine Social Security benefit COLAs.
By charleswwhite | Jan 5, 2007 2:40:05 AM | Request Removal

If you get at least a high school degree and if you dont reproduce until you are married and at least 21, then the odds of you joining the ranks of the 37 million in poverty are very small. As Will clearly explained, raising the minimum wage raises the high school drop-out rate. Hence, it will raise the number of those in poverty. Which is a great scam for Democrats since they can thus breed an ever increasing number of social dependents who will yank their chain in election day. The cause of poverty has very little to do with income - rather, it lies in a poverty of morals, mores and behavior. And Democrats are masters at incentivizing debasement of that triad to their political benefit.
By orangeobgyn | Jan 5, 2007 4:22:24 AM | Request Removal

And then there are those of us in Iowa where min. wage is $5.15 per hour...and nobody can afford to live here on that.. not if we have rent to pay. I make more than that, but it is only $8 an hour $2.85 higher than the minimum, thats only $16,640 a year at full time hours. Where is this $40000 you speak of? I have yet to see it. Not all of us are rich like you.
By jamjam_56 | Jan 5, 2007 6:13:03 AM | Request Removal

You raise a good point with the high school drop out issue, however, I did not drop out of high school, I even went to 4 years of college, and graduated with very good grades. I still only make $8 an hour. Have you thought about what this could mean for those of us who actually DO make some effort in our lives?
By jamjam_56 | Jan 5, 2007 6:17:41 AM | Request Removal

Are you male or female? Do you have any children? Are you married? What was your major? Have you considered looking for a higher paying job? If minimum wage was raised, would it cause your employer to give you a proportionate raise? If so, would that really have much of an impact on your life/lifestyle? A married couple, each making $8.00/hr would be at $32,000 per year. $10.00 per hour jobs arent that hard to come by -- that translates to $40,000 per year. While not the lap of luxury, it seems 2 people could live fairly well on 40K. And there is always the choice of working two jobs, or better yet, starting your own business where you can see for yourself how government intrusiveness can be oppressive for those who try to create capital instead of just consuming it.
By orangeobgyn | Jan 5, 2007 8:39:41 AM | Request Removal

Orangeobgyn: you should realize one thing it is extremely important for entrepreneurs to live in a country like USA. I can guarantee you that it would have been much more difficult for Bill Gates to have a successful company if he was in Latin america. I am also not sure if you are a obgyn doctor assuming you are and please forgive me if I am presuming too much, surely you take advantage extremely well of the government interference in the medical job market. You know as well as me that doctors in US are paid well above the world market price and please dont tell me that doctors in US are much better than doctors in western Europe to justify the salary discrepances
By alextor01 | Jan 5, 2007 9:02:38 AM | Request Removal

I am amazed that there isnt a minimum wage for reading Will, who was famously involved with a campaign 1980 that relied on stealing the other sides debate notes. Will of course is completely ignorant of history and is an embarassment to the Washington Post. Its time to ditch such beltway propaganda. I suggest Will give up his wealth, benefits, and access to Washington insiders. I suspect in that case hed sing a different tune.
By jmk666 | Jan 5, 2007 9:29:32 AM | Request Removal

As a small business owner I am going to have to cut back on either hours or manpower to my small company. As it is I work without a salary, because what little is profit on the bottom line goes right back into making my small company a better company. I also work part time with my regular job, but even that is going to need to change if the minimum wage goes up because now I am not going to be able to afford to have those employees running the company when I cant be there. So it looks like I am going to have to let people go, run the company myself and pay myself what I would have paid that employee of mine. That company is hinged on everything that I do, not what my employees do. Either that or I have to raise my prices on goods and services, which isnt going to happen if I am to compete for business. The only arguements I saw here were,...Its not fair. Will, who is an economist, doesnt understand, hes cruel, he wants slave labor back,...blah blah blah. Lets make something very clear,...there is no law that says that I or anyone else has to hire anyone. Having said that it should not be up to anyone to tell me how much to pay that person. The market decides that by competition. Not because some policy wonk says so in the interest of feeling all warm and fuzzy. Truth is,...when all is said and done and it comes time for me to retire and close my company or sell it,...I walk away with the wealth and that employee is still going to be an employee. Why? Because he didnt have the desire to do for himself. But hey,..when those of out here that are making these baseless arguements about slave labor and the such sees an increase in either the cost of a big mac or the size of the unemployment rate will only have themselves to blame. Especially when they are affected by the job cuts because no employer is going to raise the prices of goods and services. Especially when his competitor doesnt have to.
By tttrainer | Jan 5, 2007 9:33:53 AM | Request Removal

You, Mr. Will, knew this statement was false: Sixty percent of those earning the federal minimum or less work in restaurants and bars and earn tips -- often untaxed, perhaps -- in addition to wages, so you through in the perhaps to give yourself an escape. As you know, not only are tips taxed, but the restaurant employer has the right to lower the actual wage based on the estimated tips that the employee can make. Your argument about each state having its own minimum wage just points out why there needs to be a national standard. If California were to drop its minimum wage, would it cause the rent to go down, the car payments to go down, or the prices of electricity to go down? No. And if your wage happens to be held up by the minimum wage, its not there because you were able to bargain for it. Being able to bargain for you salary implies that you have some sort of leverage in the negotiations. When you are desperate for any kind of pay in order to feed your kids, you have no leverage. Families, by definition, are not capitalist systems. You cannot charge your kids rent or for their food. This is why you cannot apply purely capitalist arguments to wages.
By anonevent | Jan 5, 2007 9:48:58 AM | Request Removal

I guess introductory economics isnt required to be in Congress.
By Tobe33333 | Jan 5, 2007 10:37:41 AM | Request Removal

Mr. Will I am one of your all time fans and will always be in your debt. In this case however you are wrong. Labor is not a commodity it is people, citizens, consumers, voters. The constitution exalts prosperity in the service of man not the other way around. The checks and balances of our system are there to ensure that power inmcluding economic power does not become too concentrated. While offically denying people that work more than 40 hours a week from ecaping poverty, perhaps we should offer them some cake to compensate...and keep their wages low. Iddo Wernick
By iddo99 | Jan 5, 2007 10:50:02 AM | Request Removal

it must be a wonderful luxury to be able to write something like this article and earn the money that you do. The problem is that it exposes how out of touch you are with the life of the average american, therefore rendering your opinion useless. I look forward to the day when you retire.
By tomboy3000 | Jan 5, 2007 10:56:37 AM | Request Removal

tttrainer, without you, your employees will have to find work someplace else. Unemployment is very low right now so they should be able to find another job. Without them, you dont get to retire because you have no business to sell. You could always hire illegal aliens. The current administration looks the other way, offering it to business buddies as a form of corporate welfare. But wait! All those illegal aliens are the reason you are currently able to pay minimum wage. By flooding the market with cheap labor, a mere commodity, you are already able to take advantage of the fact that more workers, legal and illegal, are competing for fewer jobs, thus driving wages down. Whether you asked for it or not, you are a recipient of corporate welfare. Ill make a deal. In exchange for dropping the minimum wage, the U.S. kicks out all the illegal aliens. That way you get to pay your employees based on the prevailing wages that will result from a labor pool of LEGAL workers only. Think of all that produce sitting there in the sun...not getting picked. Its crappy work. Not many people are willing to do it. Theyll have to either let it rot, or offer higher wages to attract U.S. citizens or legal visa holders to pick it. That works for me. How about it?
By jc | Jan 5, 2007 11:08:25 AM | Request Removal

Mr.Will the price of everything has been going up since the looong time between minimum wage raises! Since the last raise, a gallon of gas went from an avreage of $1.25 to as much as $3.50 a gallon! Who do the current and aspiring rich expect to buy all of the stuff that keeps hitting the market, if they dont ever want to give even the most trivial pay raise?
By byronmotley | Jan 5, 2007 11:51:17 AM | Request Removal

ttrainer: you said So it looks like I am going to have to let people go, run the company myself and pay myself what I would have paid that employee of mine. It appears to me that you may have done that in the first place if it was profitable to do it. Please correct me if i am wrong, but I do not think that you hired your employees because you were a good samaritan, but mainly because you need them which is completely normal: otherwise you would not be a good businessman Therefore one may logically imply that your company needs the employees. Having established that, you should also realize that the minimum wage may be seen as part of the contract with society that you have in order to be allowed to run the company. that contract implies rights and obligations. If the majority of society deems that minimum wage is necessary which seems to be the case in USA, you have to conform to that. You cannot just pick and choose which rules you have to follow
By alextor01 | Jan 5, 2007 11:57:48 AM | Request Removal

*ONLY* one in five workers that earn the minimum wage are below the poverty line?! Are you aware of how low the poverty line is? Currently, the poverty income level for a family of four is at $16,700. If one out of five are below this level, then the ones above this level are no longer considered poor? I find it difficult to believe that the remaining four out of five that earn the minimum wage do not consider themselves poor. If the bar is set so low, it is not difficult to make the statistic seem so little. The definition of a poverty line is the level of income at which an individual cannot afford to buy all of the goods and services required to live. So really, if you say that as long as these people have food, shelter, and clothes on their backs, they are no longer poor. One of the most important characteristics of a developed country is how their poor compare with the poor of other nations. A developed nation has a lower percentage of impoverished people, and the poverty line that you referred to without mentioning what it actually is, although numerically might be higher than those of other nations, are qualitatively equal to other poverty lines. You cannot say that simply because we have less poor than other countries, we have no poor at all. And everyone knows, there are many different levels of poor. I guess you dont care about the poor, just the ones below the poverty line. Thanks! PS - I have a degree in businss and a degree in economics, and your article infuriated every bone in my body. Thank you for making economics seem so black and white and inhumane, and for making business seem like brilliant humanitarians. You are just a columnist who should thank the Washington Post for your above-poverty line lifestyle.
By sillyrushin | Jan 5, 2007 12:36:45 PM | Request Removal

You also state that the minimum wage increase won’t do much generally but give high school students more incentive to drop out. You cite two scholars who thought of this idea. Who are they? I think you hit a bigger underlying problem. Schools need to educate their students that they will be more valuable with a high school diploma than with nothing. Children drop out from schools for many different reasons, not just work. Their current education should play a role in actually teaching them about investing in their future with education, patience, etc. The problem is not the students themselves, or the minimum wage level, it is the level of education that they are getting in the schools.
By sillyrushin | Jan 5, 2007 12:41:45 PM | Request Removal

75.6 Million hourly workers x 2 Dollar and 10 cents x 40 typical hours in a work week x 52 work weeks in a year = 330 Billion new dollars required to pay for the minimun wage increase. We are going to give everyone a raise, or are we just going to promote those who make less than the new minimum? Average increase in spending for the 300 million American citizens just to support the above raise? 1100 Dollars per person. Add in the typical 3x cost mulipier associated with employing a person, per dollar spent, and the burden of the cost to the typcial family far outweighs any benefit.
By waterloom | Jan 5, 2007 12:55:27 PM | Request Removal

Call me biased, but Id take left-wing nostalgia over right-wing pretension to intellectual rigor and analysis any day,
By jaavee | Jan 5, 2007 1:08:22 PM | Request Removal

I didnt think labor had truly been a commodity in this country since we fought a civil war over it. In fact US Code distinctly says it is NOT a commodity. Perhaps Mr Will intended to say labor costs, but its good to see what he clearly thinks of people who work for low wages.
By jrcjr | Jan 5, 2007 1:47:33 PM | Request Removal

That is almost totally RIGHT!!! I believe there should be a minimum but that it should be around $5 an hour. If you have qualifications that they would like they will pay more for you but if you are unskilled you should be paid as such.
By Kadco77 | Jan 5, 2007 2:49:12 PM | Request Removal

US Code Title 15 chapter 1 17.QUOTE The labor of a human being is not a commodity or article of commerce. Nothing contained in the antitrust laws shall be construed to forbid the existence and operation of labor, agricultural, or horticultural organizations, instituted for the purposes of mutual help, and not having capital stock or conducted for profit, or to forbid or restrain individual members of such organizations from lawfully carrying out the legitimate objects thereof nor shall such organizations, or the members thereof, be held or construed to be illegal combinations or conspiracies in restraint of trade, under the antitrust laws.UNQUOTE
By tseaver | Jan 5, 2007 2:56:06 PM | Request Removal

Isnt it true that big unions index their negotiated wage structure from the minimum wage? If so, that would help explain their enthusiasm for an increase, given that their members are otherwise paid not necessarily earning substantially more than the minimum.
By tom-breese | Jan 5, 2007 3:15:12 PM | Request Removal

The only people who have a minimum wage of zero are slaves -- occasionally, they get room and board. I thought the era of tolerating slavery at least in the US was gone although one still hears reports that it goes on with children and women. Mr. Will gets a minimum wage -- his salary, for writing columns. If he were paid on the basis of the content, he should have been paid zero for this. At what point will Mr. Will come to see that he most surely never had a soul, that if he had one, he lost it, and that for every pompous bit of compassion-less drivel he writes, his face, takes on a Dorian Gray like look of accumulated hate and spitefulness? Will Will see this or wont Will? What a sad, pathetic excuse for a human being - to want to oppress and tread further on the oppressed and down-trodden. GM and Ford are not faltering because they pay minimum wage. Our schools are not faltering because they pay teachers minimum wage. The Washington Post does not print drivel because it pays minimum wage. Would that there were a cure for this meanness that has marinated this mans brain. Happy New Year George!
By bwana3 | Jan 5, 2007 4:29:19 PM | Request Removal

Wow, Mr Will i my consider myself a conservative American and pro-business as a small business owner. But it does trouble me that the tone of your assumptions and facts of they relate to business and unions and the reasoning of why a minimum wage exist. At the very least and this is fact and will always be that man will take advantage of others if allowed to. If I can get someone to do the work cheaper Ill do it, why would i even want to pay what you perceive a market when i can import the labor at better cost for myself. If you only motive is to make a dollar then there is nothing wrong with that way of thinking. But as a Christian i am obligated to help my fellow man instead of making a large donation why dont i pay my people a wage they can support there families on, to spend that money in our economy you are always going about. Unfortunately you missed the mark on this one by a very large margin. and please do not be so selective in the facts that you pro port as truths, if a naive American were to read your article, you prefer the time when labor free and abused. There was reason unions came into existence, you should right about that instead.
By darius533 | Jan 5, 2007 4:31:29 PM | Request Removal

Ill bet that George Will is a real big tipper !What a great example of Republican brain desease in its final stage.
By mickhab | Jan 5, 2007 5:52:05 PM | Request Removal
Okay George Labor price should be zero huh? If I as a physician can charge for my services as I see fit, then why am I the only person who is by law prohibited from forming a union to negotiate what my labor is worth? What is it about the race to the bottom that is so appealing here? Labor and highly skilled labor is part of a societal infrastructure, clearly a concept beyond your grasp, that allows the society as a whole to advance. But then again, those of you in the elite would like a return to the days of feudalism--the truest form of a $0 labor commodity environment. I for one will be happy to send you back to feudal times when I finish my time machine. It is obvious you have no clue about the fact that there is no free market for labor, for training, and for the ability of a worker to charge and get what his or hers skills are worth. If you really want market parity, allow anyone, anywhere, at anytime to join any union that they wish and negotiate a contract--oh yeah, that wont work because your big business buddies cannot deal with real unions.
By rgh999 | Jan 5, 2007 6:59:51 PM | Request Removal

Okay George Labor price should be zero huh? If I as a physician can charge for my services as I see fit, then why am I the only person who is by law prohibited from forming a union to negotiate what my labor is worth? What is it about the race to the bottom that is so appealing here? Labor and highly skilled labor is part of a societal infrastructure, clearly a concept beyond your grasp, that allows the society as a whole to advance. But then again, those of you in the elite would like a return to the days of feudalism--the truest form of a $0 labor commodity environment. I for one will be happy to send you back to feudal times when I finish my time machine. It is obvious you have no clue about the fact that there is no free market for labor, for training, and for the ability of a worker to charge and get what his or hers skills are worth. If you really want market parity, allow anyone, anywhere, at anytime to join any union that they wish and negotiate a contract--oh yeah, that wont work because your big business buddies cannot deal with real unions.
By rgh999 | Jan 5, 2007 7:01:26 PM | Request Removal

George, Did you ever wonder what all those folks in the ball park do for a living?
By musicalboats | Jan 5, 2007 7:55:03 PM | Request Removal

In the words of Kurt Vonnegut Welcome to the Monkeyhouse. For the record in the early 90s I was out of work for a while and ended up losing my house, but not the debt.- So when I did find employment my wages were attached. I got to keep 75 of my take home pay or 30 times the minimum wage a week. Turns out the were both the same figure. So I may be the only one commenting here who HAS had to survive on that low a level of income for a period of time measured in not weeks,months but years. Most of the hysteria I have read directed at Mr Will would best be used plowed into the ground to inspire turnips. Raising the Minimum Wage is merely a feel good measure that in the final analysis authors of this legislation actually know that they just do not care. They are willing to shaft the working poor while claiming to be helping them for partisan political gain. The rest of Mr Wills detractors are just deluded. The last time the MW was raised there were about 1.7 Million being paid that. Today the figure is 470K. Why? Because the Marketplace drove the wages of some 1.3 Million up. This happened while 9 Million more entered the workplace. Examples of the unintended consequences. Suppose I own a restaraunt? I have waitresses and busboys. You raise the MW and I may decide that is too much to pay someone to clean tables. So? I lay off my busboys hire a few more waitresses and have them wait on tables and bus them too. Their share of the tips go down. The busboys lose their jobs the waitresses incomes go down and You pat your self on the back for making their lives better by raising the MW?
By kdan1951 | Jan 5, 2007 8:26:38 PM | Request Removal

PS I wonder how many of Mr Will detracters have ever had to make their daily bread through capitalism in its purest form? That is buying something for one price, trying to sell it for another and living on the difference? From the way they seem to feel they have a moral right to tell others how to spend their own money I would bet most have spent their careers feeding at a wage trough created by someone else.
By kdan1951 | Jan 5, 2007 8:31:06 PM | Request Removal

Paul Krugman is a liberal and he doesnt like the minimum wage. He prefers the Earned Income Tax Credit as a welfare measure. Reason: The latter is an after-market solution based on taxes, while the minimum wage is an in-market solution alters prices to benefit some individuals. As a competent economist, Krugman knows a free-market system maximizes utility material welfare. The minimum wage messes up the price system, and hence damages the ability of the free market to maximize utility. Check out Paul Krugmans thinking at: Or, google paul krugman minimum wage. Liberals may want to redistribute more. Non-liberals may want to redistribute less. But no one should want to simply waste resources. Yet that is what the minimum wage does.
By sokutai | Jan 5, 2007 11:10:32 PM | Request Removal

The other thing Mr. Will misses is the idea of real dollars - which shouldnt be overlooked, especially if he is evaluating economic viewpoints. The real buying power of $5.15 an hour in 1997 if brought into current dollars would be $6.47 according to the inflation calculator on the Bureau of Labor Statistics webapge. So in real terms, if the actual buying power of $5.15 was acceptable in 1997, then raising the minimum wage to $6.47 would only give those making the minimum wage the same level of buying power by taking inflation into account for the past 10 years. Regardless, prices will continue to rise, so why not at least keep the people making minimum wage on an even level? Others have also brought up the question of the Home Depot CEOs buy-out of $210 million. You take that $210 million and divide it to the 479,000 people making the minimum wage and that alone can raise their wages by nearly a quarter for an entire year. And that is just from the money that was paid to a single man. The problem with so much of economics is its failure to view people as people instead of merely as costs or cogs in a machine. It is tough to measure or put a value to a humans happiness... so it seems to me that economists just view peoples feelings as another one of the things that are assumed to be equal. Seems to be a pretty big mistake to me.
By smith309 | Jan 6, 2007 1:16:43 AM | Request Removal

Do you refuse to post satirical comments of satirical editorials? Please tell me you dont as I find that nearly as offensive as Mr. Wills column....actually, more offensive. Mr. Will is a paid poster and has all the tools in the writers arsenal although hes obviously come armed with a water pistol todayas Im rebutting him am I not entitled to the same tool belt? Sorry, I guess the use of the word tools implies he works or intends to work but that is not entirely appropos..Please let me know. dbuck83@verizon.net
By doran.beebe | Jan 6, 2007 1:51:14 AM | Request Removal

Poor Georges $0 minimum wage proposal is a modern day example of Spencerian logic, straight from his Laissez Faire musings of the mid-19th century. Thanks to Georges education at the public trough, he may recall from his Econ 101 course work that “pervading all nature we may see at work a stern discipline, which is a little cruel that it may be very kind.” But why stop with wages, shouldn’t we adopt the full measure of economic medicine proscribed by Spencers logic. “It seems hard that widows and orphans should be left to struggle for life or death, Spencer declared, “Nevertheless, when regarded not separately…these harsh fatalities are seen to be full of the highest beneficence…which brings to early graves the children of diseased parents…” FDRs New Deal legislation, such as the minimum wage and child labor laws, civilized some of Classical Economics worse abuses. While the Greatest Generation is dying off and few are left to remember the harsh 1930s depression, we can always count on George to be stuck in a economic philosophy from the 19th Century.
By Bill31648 | Jan 6, 2007 10:23:37 AM | Request Removal

The earned income tax credit is superior to the minimum wage in every way. Consider, the minimum wage is a wage subsidy paid for by a tax on hiring minimum wage workers. Therefore it will cause unemployment. The earned income tax credit is a wage subsidy paid for out of the general tax fund. It puts the same amount of money in workers hands. Virtually everyone agrees that the EITC is better, and I wish the public would take the two minutes it takes to realize this. Maybe they cant because the Economic POlicy INstitute has made them think that Economics is the science of making things up when it feels good.
By Lewis500 | Jan 6, 2007 11:11:32 AM | Request Removal

George, after reading this article it makes me feel alright about the pay rates in this country and I feel like seeing those silly democrats raising the minimum wage as absurd. For almost 15 years since high school I have been a great admirer of the insight and intelligence of your writings. This time I would have admit that this article has neither of those qualities. The reality that people work full time and still cant afford to pay for the basics of life is sad. Reading statistics may make us feel better, but it is like lowering the poverty line to reduce poverty. Trivializing the problem is not the way to solve it. Making a fuss about paying people around $7/hr. is kind of silly. Would you be willing to work for $7 an hour? No way! Do the math and see that it is a miserable wage. Believe it or not there is a great number of people living in poverty. Since you like statistics consider this one released recently: ten percent of new yorkers rely on charities on a regular basis to meet their food needs. Or consider that the largest employer in the US: Walmart who hires a great many as just part time employees at minimum wages. These employees dont qualify for any benefits and must work two or more of these jobs to live. Its more common than your article leads us to believe. The argument that most of the people that make the fed minimum are students is may comfort us into not caring about this social problem, but poverty is a real problem in this country. As real wages go down more and more people are falling into poverty.
By zotok | Jan 6, 2007 1:21:27 PM | Request Removal

I suppose that I never through someone would actually have the gall to finally admit how the GOP uber-fascists see their fellow Americans- a commodity. I think that is very close to finally getting to the final solution. Of course, labour isnt a commodity, especially skilled labour. How many of these self same conservative figures and business owners bemoan - You cant get good people all the while offering wages that dont meet the market. Skill costs money- to develop and to train- and if you wish to hire it, you have to pay for it. Those who invest in an education have to be compensated enough to get a return on their investment. THAT Mr Will IS economics. I suppose you could consider in the coldest sense that the skills required to dig a ditch are a commodity, but the skills to recognize a flaw on the welding line and stop production and repair it before making several bad welds IS a less available skill. As such the cost of that skill goes up- far beyond that of minimum wage, making your complaints over minimum wage basically non-sequitor. If you dont want to pay for it, then you wont get it. And yes, if you so support the free market, why isnt interest allowed to float? Why hold interest rates down to crush the economy as it finally begin to get a fingernail into the cliff?
By kammersangerin | Jan 6, 2007 3:39:17 PM | Request Removal

It appears that Geogre still believes in slavery but that was a government program like the minimum wage. I think the 100 refers to the 1994 republican steal of FDRs slogan. Funny how George can remember democratic slogans but not republican. Or am I wrong about Newt and gang using a 100 days mantra.
By papadick2002 | Jan 6, 2007 4:30:58 PM | Request Removal

By and large, the posters have done a good job skewering Mr. Will's wage against the minimum. But I would like to take a shot at his fundamental logic. Mr. Will and conservatives in general reject government "interference in the market"?. In the final analysis, Mr. Will is protesting against the purpose of government. For instance, when the police apprehend someone who commits a property crime, that is interference in the market. Is it not the responsibility of those who hold property to protect it? The property holder could spend every moment in vigilance or pay actually barter, since currency is a government intrusion into the market someone to do the job. These conditions prevail in some third-world nations. If Mr. Will was truthful, ok, stop laughing his next foray into economics should be about the doleful effects that accrue from government protecting property. P.S. wages can be less than $0 by a system of debt-bondage
By Daryl-Clark | Jan 7, 2007 1:56:03 AM | Request Removal

I think that Mr. Will does not go far enough in his market based religious argument. One should be able to pay to get a job like the positions of police deputies in Narco rich Afghan provinces and then charge what the market bears to the customers, clients, or public to recoup the cost of getting that job and make some tidy profit.
By diganta | Jan 7, 2007 11:10:19 AM | Request Removal

I know what it`s like to live on $5 or $6 an hour - and that was in the mid-1980s. I would certainly support an increase in the minimum wage now.
By RossEmery | Jan 7, 2007 11:27:24 AM | Request Removal

Your biggest mistake is neglecting to provide an alternative to the minimum wage. Just saying that it should be axed without even a mention of something like, say, the Negative Income Tax is not a good way to push for the abolishment of the MW which I agree should be abolished, but only if replaced by something like the NIT.
By washingtonpost | Jan 7, 2007 8:07:18 PM | Request Removal

Mr Will While burnishing your reputation as a crumudegeony conservative in "The Right Minimum Wage", Op-Ed, Jan 4 2007, you seem to relax your grip on simple economics, and common sense too. It's true that "most of the working poor earn more than minimum wage"?. But as you well know, one need not earn the bare minimum wage, in order to feel its benefits. If the law sets a floor of $5.25, then many folks will earn $6 - $7, either because they started at the minimum and got a token raise, or because employers must improve on the minimum to obtain better employees. Whether they're earning the minimum or slightly above, a minimum wage hike helps the working poor. Inequity in America is a big problem, and it's getting worse. If you take some comfort in America's $46k median income, then I'm guessing you don't know anyone raising a family on it. Proposing a decrease in the minimum wage, to $0, is conservative, sure. And it's nonsense. Three quarters of the electorate would agree. Yes, the minimum wage is a blunt and imperfect tool. As wage-hike supporters should concede, lots of college-bound teenagers, who don't really need a raise, will get one. So what? Should we just ignore America's problems and assume free markets will fix them all? Like democracy, free markets are an important underpinning of a free society, and we ignore them at our peril. But markets are not omnipotent deities. They're not inherently moral or always in our best interest - often, yes, but not always Though markets should be generally free, good societies intervene sometimes. That is, those societies who know a bit of economics and common sense. -William Taylor III Beverly Hills, Michigan BKEW.taylor@comcast.net
By bkew.taylor | Jan 7, 2007 8:32:46 PM | Request Removal

Having just read the first page of comments to Mr. Wills article--all of which were variations on the same theme--I must register my amazement at how ignorant those readers are of market forces. Market forces will rule, regardless of the numeric value of the minimum wage. It will take a few months for things to adjust to the new value, but the supposed benefits of any increase in minimum wage will be temporary. The downside will be more permanent: costs will adjust upward and the value of my small nest egg will be reduced, to give two examples. I still have a few years I can add to my nest egg, but think of the people who are already living off of theirs. Some readers thought Mr. Will was advocating that the minimum wage be dropped to $0. I dont think that was his point. The short term costs of such a move could be pretty bad, even if the long term effects were good. His point was, the minimum wage was a bad idea to start with. Hear, hear! Oh, by the way, I started at the bottom of the pile, working minimum wage, when it was $1.60. I know what a motivating factor it can be to bring home $43.20 a week! There had to be SOME skill I had that the MARKET would reward better than that. David Pennington Fox Lake, Illinois
By davidwpennington | Jan 8, 2007 10:09:25 AM | Request Removal