“When you do more than you get paid for eventually you’ll be paid for more than you do.”- Zig Ziglar.
(A re-blog from two years ago.)
I am against a minimum wage; I know that sounds harsh but . . . hear me out, please.
In my part of the country, one can generally hire high school boys for yard word for $8.00 an hour. Joe came to our door looking for work. We liked his appearance and demeanor so we told him to come back on Saturday to roto-til the garden and clean it up for winter. Saturday morning he appeared at a reasonable hour ready to work but Sammy wasn’t ready to go out. We told Joe to go on out and rake between the beds.
Looking out a bit later, we saw that Joe was standing with the rake apparently confused about what to do. We watched a bit. I said give him some time he would surely not choose to stand very long. After a while, Sammy went out started the rototiller and Joe took over. It was hard work. I checked a few minutes later. Joe was back at the rake, even raking a little. Sammy came inside. We looked out. Joe was standing with the rake.
I told Sammy that I had not made an agreement with him about the pay, so if Sammy went out to keep him accountable, maybe he would be worth $8.00. Sammy went out and gave him a new assignment, raking acorns from under a tree. I looked out, Sammy was roto-tilling, Joe was holding the rake over his head. I did that three times, once the rake was over his head, once he was picking a few individual leaves off the rake, once he half-heartedly drew the rack back and forth a few times.
I went out, called Joe to me and told him that he was welcome to change his mind and go home if he didn’t want to work. He said he wanted to work but he didn’t have any break time. I told him that was true, but he was taking them. He said he was thirsty and hungry; I told him I would be glad to give him something to drink but I wasn’t going to cook. He could go home to eat if he wanted to. He repeated that he wanted to work. I said, “Go for it then, but I don’t want to look out and see my 86-year-old husband working and you not doing anything.” Joe said, “He’s eighty-six!?” I told him yes, we were a generation of people who worked hard and I expected the same from anyone who worked for us.
For the next three or four hours, he worked diligently with Sammy. When they decided to take a break, Sammy told me in Joe’s hearing that he thought Joe was worth ten dollars an hour. Joe came back after a while and worked for a couple more hours. When he quit, he was apparently very pleased with his sixty-five dollars for the day.
Now my argument about minimum wage. If we had agreed with Joe for ten dollars an hour, I think I would have told him after about the third time to see him doing nothing, that I didn’t need him any more. If I kept him a few hours then paid him ten dollars an hour, he would not have had to satisfaction of knowing we were paying him more than we had to. If minimum wage had been fifteen, we would not have had him in the first place. The job was not that critical, and I will not pay that for someone whose work I do not know about.
However, I do have a lady who comes to help me with yard work on occasion. I pay her fourteen to seventeen an hour because she is so capable, knowledgeable, and trustworthy. She is welcome to work here whether or not I am home. I prefer her work to anyone else, but I’m hindered because of the my shortage of money sometimes and her shortage of time since she has other jobs.
As for me . . . I would much prefer the lady for sixteen dollars an hour than two Joe’s at eight dollars an hour. I just hope she can get a job sometime with someone who can pay her what she is worth! But a ten dollar, or twelve, or fifteen minimum wage law will not help her . . . or Joe. Our state is among the lowest for rent, groceries, gas, etc. But no one can live on $400-600 dollars a week without two workers in the family or help from some other source. So the argument that we need $10-15 minimum is bogus. Leave the workers to prove their worth; good employers will be looking for them.