Minimum wage hikes don’t reduce poverty, Pallister says. What? Now why would our premier, our No. 1 guy, make such a ludicrous statement?
Let’s do some simple math. If the money a person earns in a year is below a certain level called “the poverty line” then that person and his/her family are living in poverty. So … if my earnings increase — i.e. I make more per hour — then there is a good chance that worker can get “above the poverty line.”
For those of us that only have the option of working for low wages, then the concept of a minimal wage is extremely important and to increase the minimum wage will make a huge difference in trying to get above the poverty line. It seems like simple math. Did Mr. Pallister miss that class?
So, still the question, why did he say that? If I might digress, the concept of “minimum” for wages needs some explanation. Why is there a minimum at all? Do you think Mr. Pallister feels that we should get rid of the “minimum” entirely? Let the “market” determine what is best? The word minimum is very much a “social” concept. By “social” I mean for the good of the public — for everyone. People should get a “reasonable” wage for the work that they do. Now why is the government involved in deciding about a “reasonable” or “minimum” and, we hope, “decent” wage that business pays their employees? Well, if it were up to corporations and big business to decided the “reasonable” wage — guess what? And what if it were left to big business to decide about working conditions? (This is another topic to wonder about.) Certainly, this helps to explain why corporations and big business move their factories to Indonesia, Vietnam or China. Do you know what the wages are in Vietnam? Seventy-nine cents an hour.
So, our government, who should be having the publics best interests in mind, have needed to establish a “minimum” wage. So why does Lonnie Patterson, co-chair of the city’s poverty committee, speak in favour of increasing the minimum wage? I think that, if you have been following the raise to $15 per hour minimum wage movement in the U.S., what studies have shown is that by doing this people are living above the poverty line.
Why then is not living in poverty so important? One only has to think about all the “bad” things that are associated with poverty: 1. Poor health. 2. Increased domestic violence. 3. Increased crime. 4. Increased drug abuse. 5. Increased homelessness. 6. More children living in poverty.
And to be very clear — what do these people do with their increased wages? Well, they pay their bills, buy their own homes, buy food and clothing, are able to look after their health issues, children who are not hungry learn more and are more likely to break the “chain of poverty.” Did you know that by investing $1 in “sport” opportunities that you save $1,000 in needing to build and run institutions like prisons?
So again why, Brian, why? Maybe it’s quite obvious why. Mr. Pallister views life from a “right-wing conservative” viewpoint. This means that he will want as little “government interference” as possible. So he will attack Crown corporations. He will attack unions. He will initiate wage rollbacks in the public sector. He will be as corporation and big business friendly as possible. He will look to privatize as much of the public domain as possible. Business friends have told him that to increase the minimum wage will cut into their bottom-line — profits! And, if necessary, they will take their businesses to countries that have no unions, where working conditions are horrible and only have to pay the workers there 79 cents an hour.
So, Mr. Pallister, you can always change your opinion — push for a minimum wage increase and allow them the chance to stimulate the economy and better themselves.
Scott Blyth, chairman
Council of Canadians,