Government should work with a light hand when it tinkers with the economic system.
There’s no doubt that economies work best when they give freedom to individuals to better their material circumstances using their own ingenuity, discipline and hard work. Centrally planned economies don’t work.
So a decision on whether to support raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8 an hour in 2015 and $9 an hour in 2016 should not be made without due consideration.
Small businessmen like Gary Tharnish of Burton Tyrrell Flowers will feel the negative impact. "Either I get paid less and work a little more, or I don't hire another part-time person for a while so there's another teenager not working,” Tharnish said.
As Jim Partington, executive director of the Nebraska Restaurant Association wrote in a Local View (LJS, Oct. 7), the minimum wage hike will hurt the hospitality industry. “It will reduce the hiring of entry level employees in labor intensive industries and delay their entrance into the workforce,” he wrote.
The viewpoint of the small business owners deserves respect.
But the positive impact of raising the minimum wage in Nebraska must also be weighed by voters.
The working poor in Nebraska need some help. The economic system currently is imbalanced in favor of those at the top end of the income and wealth scale. The top 1 percent of Americans hold about 40 percent of the nation’s wealth and haul in about a quarter of the country’s income.
The wealthiest 1 percent of Americans has collected 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009 and the bottom 90 percent became poorer, according to Oxfam International.
In Nebraska 78.3 percent of the workers who would receive a pay increase if Nebraskans approve the minimum wage increase are adults 20 or older, according to the National Employment Law Project.
In a Local View in support of raising the minimum wage (LJS, Oct. 2), Beatty Brasch of the Center for People in Need urged voters to pay attention to both the empirical and anecdotal evidence on who is actually cleaning their clothes, mowing their lawns, serving their meals and keeping their children’s schools clean. “It’s not teenagers; it’s middle-aged adults,” Brasch wrote.
Supporters of raising the minimum wage in Nebraska say that more than 30,000 workers in Nebraska would get a raise if the ballot measure passes.
The benefit of giving those workers a raise outweighs the possible negative impact. Fears of negative economic impacts have proved exaggerated in the past when the minimum wage was increased. The working poor in Nebraska deserve a break. Vote to raise the minimum wage.