Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Minimum Wage

As I've written before, I recently hired two young men to work for me.

I was asked today, why I didn't give them more hours.

The reason is, they work for my convenience.

  1. The quality of being suitable to one's comfort, purposes, or needs: the convenience of living near shops, schools, and libraries.
  2. Personal comfort or advantage: services that promote the customer's convenience.
  3. Something that increases comfort or saves work: household conveniences such as a washing machine, an electric can opener, and disposable diapers. See synonyms at amenity.
  4. A suitable or agreeable time: Fill out the form at your earliest convenience.
  5. Chiefly British. A lavatory
I need them for a brainless task, for a few hours a day. Simply "being" is an adequate job skill. During those hours, they are being taught usable work skills, and the question was asked, "Since I'm learning how to be more effective, why can't I work more hours?"

Good question. The answer is, because, you're not worth enough to me now, for me to give you more hours. I know that I'm "destroying" your entire day with my request for three hours. I know that I could spend more time with you, teaching you more, making you more valuable, more quickly.

The problem is, the state has decided that my improving your work skills is less important than that I treat you with respect; pay you an inflated, state mandated minimum wage, that neither conveniences me, nor you. If you missed it, I'm posting this because at least one member of your state's legislature wrote about it earlier:

"A cursory look a the state's excessive minimum wage, top tax rate and regulatory creep all reveal these factors to be significant forces affecting Oregon's economic future. (Ted Feriolli, The Oregonian, "Countering economic pessimism: Oregon has the resources to rebuild prosperity" September 27, 2011.)

I don't run a nursery here. I've dedicated some time, each day, in the attempt to teach two men enough to make them employable. I would offer them more time, and increase their value more quickly, but the state has decided to put a limit on the time I can afford to have them in my employ. And remember, they are willing to work for free. But changes in federal law regarding interns means that they can't intern here, without constant supervision. Which is again, not convenient for me.

I don't know if you've looked at the "demands" of the "occupiers" of Wall Street. I have two young men who want to spend more time with me learning. Changes in the law, both federally and in this state, makes my time with them, if I don't pay them for that time, illegal.

This was the change we'd been hoping for, isn't it?


MAX Redline said...

What's the problem?
We'll just raise the "minimum wage" by $20 and then everyone will be well off!

It's hardly far-fetched; when I first began my career trail, I made $3.50/hour - above minimum wage at the time. But I had knowledge and, perhaps more importantly, useful skills. Minimum wage is now, what - $8.50/hour in Oregon? That's a lot to pay for somebody with limited knowledge and no actual skills.

All that the feel-good minimum wage advocates have accomplished has been to price people out of the labor market, so they never learn skills.

Ten Mile Island said...

Such sadness.

Would you rather work, or not?

It occurred to me about a week ago, that I haven't been unemployed for more than a week in my life, ever.

I had my run-ins in life. I either had to quit, or got fired (twice). And any of those occasions created opportunities that I couldn't have predicted. But wage rate was never a determinant of employment. When I was a "fractionally" unemployed person, making any money beat no money.

I was never "entitled" to a living wage. All I wanted was a wage to survive. No Nintendo, no cable, no heat. Survive is just that. De minimus.

God, I wish I was twenty years old, today! All I need is a voice, and I get what I want.

Good times.

MAX Redline said...

I started when I was around 8, selling greeting cards, then graduated to three morning paper routes (and selling newspaper subscriptions). By 14, I was working in a news distribution center and in a news agency. Nintendo and cable had yet to be developed.

The work ethic was developed early on, because hey - nobody was gonna buy me a bicycle or a baseball bat. You want 'em; fine - you find a way to earn 'em. It turns out that you can deliver a lot more newspapers if you have a bike. That translates into more money. Lessons learned early on.

Dropped out of high school. I suppose they tried, but it was boring. Got a scholarship and went to college instead, just coming up with cash for food and rent and texts. Interesting times. Never once thought of asking for handouts.

ZZMike said...

"Since I'm learning how to be more effective, why can't I work more hours?"

You could explain the concept of "intern".

ZZMike said...

"But changes in federal law regarding interns means that they can't intern here, without constant supervision."

? ? ?

That must be another one of the Administration's "make lots more jobs" policy.

Ten Mile Island said...

Did you see this?


You sign up for scut work, don't be surprised when you do scut work.

I'm glad I was raised at a time when if I chose to do work for no pay, I was able to do so.

Ten Mile Island said...


I, too, was a Boy's Life Card Salesman! It occurred to me, that if there was "stuff" I wanted, I could get that stuff by doing something. I also learned a few skills in the doing. I learned how to dress appropriately. I learned to be polite. I learned to knock on doors I'd never been before. I learned how to keep track of money and organize my sales.

Then, I sold "Reader's Digest" door-to-door. That was cash, and pretty good cash, too.

I subbed for my buddy's, Robert, "Oregonian" route. Worked, and paid my way through college.

I don't think I've been unemployed--not counting all my time in school, there were times when I spent more time involved there than allowed me to work--for more than a couple of months. Total. If you want a job, you can get a job. It may not be your dream job, but any job is better than no job.

MAX Redline said...

Scary! I learned how to dress appropriately. I learned to be polite. I learned to knock on doors I'd never been before. I learned how to keep track of money and organize my sales.

I learned the same. And more: as noted, I learned that while one paper route paid reasonably well, distributing three different papers over a much wider area paid even better. Diversification of product lines made a lot of sense. But in order to do that effectively, I needed to invest in tools: a bike, and racks.

None of the idiots involved in "Occupy" seem to have grasped the concept: you gain through investment in yourself, and in your chosen endeavor.