A Global Minimum Wage March 9, 2005March 1, 2017 BRUSSEL SPROUTS Buy. Boil. Salt. Eat. One of life’s simplest underappreciated pleasures.* RELIVE YOUR YOUTH This site – thanks, Roger – reminds you how old you were when big things happened. Don’t miss the links that show how old you likely were when you first heard certain songs or saw certain movies. You can even print personalized, if somewhat gruesome, birthday cards (‘You were 7 years old when the Challenger blew up – Happy Birthday!’). And now . . . WHAT SHALL WE PAY THE NIGHT WATCHMAN? Brooks: ‘I understand and basically agree with the principled reason for not raising the minimum wage: namely, that higher wages will reduce total employment because some employers will not be able to keep as many employees on payroll at the higher rate.’ ☞ We no longer sew a lot of clothes – those jobs are already gone. Typical minimum wage jobs these days can’t easily go overseas. Hotel maids and fast-food employees are not going to lose their jobs to the Chinese if their pay is raised (for the first time in 9 years) from $5.15 to $7 an hour. If all the competitors in an industry must raise wages, no one competitor is disadvantaged. The price of a burger might go up a nickel; the cost of a hotel room, a dollar . . . but people will not abandon fast food for home cooking over a nickel or sleep in their car over a dollar. If it’s not overdone, raising the minimum wage should have far more positive effects than negative. It enhances the value of work and personal dignity. It creates more spending power among people who might actually spend it. And that boosts the economy, creating more jobs and profit. Certainly raising the minimum wage nine years ago did not raise unemployment, which fell to the lowest levels in our history. Hiking the minimum wage gives people at the bottom a fairer shake, but also helps employers who want to give that fairer shake, yet can’t now because doing so unilaterally would put them at a competitive disadvantage. The U.S. should espouse a global treaty requiring each signatory to establish a minimum wage – however low – and requiring ‘best efforts’ to raise that wage each year until it reaches the median minimum wage for all the signatories. All voluntary, but a matter of national pride and, when quantified this way, something to shoot for. *For a few words on underappreciated vegetables generally, click here.