January 30, 2009
It's Time For a Progressive Minimum Wage
By Samual Francisco
Nearly everybody understands the basics of a progressive tax structure but nobody ever suggests that perhaps the minimum wage should be progressive as well. I personally believe that a well implemented progressive minimum wage could not only help to decrease income inequalities, but could promote job creation during the tumultuous economic times ahead.
::::::::Nearly everybody understands the basics of a progressive tax structure but nobody ever suggests that perhaps the minimum wage should be progressive as well. I personally believe that a well implemented progressive minimum wage could not only help to decrease income inequalities, but could promote job creation during the tumultuous economic times ahead.
For the record I am not an economist or even a businessperson so if my thoughts on this subject are not bullet proof it is to be expected. I will however share my thoughts on just how such a progressive minimum wage structure might work since to my knowledge nobody else has ever done so. Obviously, state minimum wage laws may differ from federal minimum wage laws so for the sake of this article I will use my home state of Washington, with a minimum wage set at $8.55/hr as a base.
For businesses earning less than $1,000,000 a year in total revenues the minimum wage would remain at $8.55/hr. Businesses earning between 1 and 10 million would pay a minimum wage of $10.55/hr, and $12.55/hour for revenues from 10 to 100 million, and so on. This not only ensures that employees tend to gain wealth along with the success they create for their employers, it also discourages the kind of rampant merger mania we have seen over the last decade or two and encourages a market place in which their is more diversity, competition, and innovation.
To encourage small businesses and grass root entrepreneurs one might even eliminate the minimum wage altogether for businesses in their first year of operation and for truly mom and pop level businesses with revenues less than $250,000 per year. Some may blow a gasket at the thought of any business unconstrained by minimum wage laws, I know (just as the right would scream over any kind of increase), but with incredibly hard economic times ahead many will prefer to make $4.00/hour and live four persons to a studio apartment rather than have no job at all and live in a refrigerator box, I am sure. On the off chance that you don't think the economic meltdown will come to that I suggest taking a good look around and thinking again. If a year of cheap labor raises the prospects of a business surviving it's beginnings so that it can then employ people thereafter at base minimum wage or above then the sacrifice will be well worth it in helping to reverse the new depression or at least mitigating it's effects.
This idea does not, of course, represent a quick fix for the economy but if utilized along with other sensible recovery measures I think we just might survive and even thrive again, eventually.
Perhaps there are better minds than mine to devise a truly progressive minimum wage structure, in fact, I would be surprised if it were not so. The point is that I sincerely hope they will get to it right away.
Samual Francisco is a member of WeAreChangeSeattle, Washington for Impeachment, and FOAVC. His politics are what MIGHT be described as left libertarian.