Minimum Wage Lies

by Mark Fox

Our City Council recently resolved that nobody who works hard should remain in poverty. That's a moral statement, not an economic one. So let's stop pretending that economic answers like a minimum wage can solve the problem.

It is not fair to workers to lie to them about what their work is worth. Setting wages is an economic problem. One that markets can solve, if we let them.

But we have to remember that a person's wage does not determine the whole of their value to family and community. Minimum wage becomes a political issue when there are gaps between earning power, the cost of living, and our intrinsic worth as members of society.

These gaps are an opportunity. By closing these gaps, all of us, together, demonstrate our commitment to that moral statement about what hard work should be worth.

It is unfair to place the burden solely on employers. Employers do their part by offering people the dignity of a job. When a job is not enough, we all must step up to help. It is what good people are called to do.

Instead of adopting toothless resolutions, or worse, interfering in economic decisions, I ask Minneapolis, both citizens and City government, to look at better ways to close the gaps between worth of work and value of life.

How we close those gaps deserves a larger conversation. Helping people learn new skills, and helping them get to where the jobs are is certainly important. And there will always be need for some direct assistance. But we should be honest about what we're up to. Minimum wage is a lie. We will find more justice by serving the truth.