Boosting Minimum Wage for Lowest-Paid Workers Would Help Enrich the Economy

I'm quite bemused after reading the fatuous assertions by the two academics in the Jan. 10 Viewpoints column, "Minimum Wage, Maximum Controversy," that increasing the minimum wage in California to $4.25 an hour, well above the federal level of $3.35, will cause widespread price increases for consumer goods, lower profits for employers and rising joblessness. I'm surprised they didn't throw in the October stock market crash for good measure.

This currently stylish assumption (by the comfortably situated) that our lowest-paid workers should bear the burden, while those lucky enough to be earning a decent wage should reap the benefits in low prices for what they consume, is a shameful reversal of decades of enlightened economic thought and policy. Henry Ford built an industrial colossus and a massive personal fortune by the revolutionary policy of paying his unskilled assembly-line workers in the early 1920s an unheard of $5 a day. He turned them into consumers, a forerunner of President Reagan's "rising tide that lifts all boats."

Those who prophesy economic doom because of a meager increase in the minimum wage would tie the economic boats of our lowest-paid workers fast to the dock, the rising tide never reaching them.



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