The Instigator
GarretKadeDupre
Pro (for)
Losing
6 Points
The Contender
ChristianLCompton
Con (against)
Winning
24 Points

Minimum Wage Laws In The USA Should Be Abolished

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 9 votes the winner is...
ChristianLCompton
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/6/2014 Category: Economics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,606 times Debate No: 43496
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (56)
Votes (9)

 

GarretKadeDupre

Pro

Thanks in advance to whomever accepts this debate!

First round is acceptance only.
ChristianLCompton

Con

I'm interested to see how this goes.

Just to clarify, I signed up believing that you were in favor of abolishing the minimum wage laws; that is, removing federal and state minimum wage laws.
Debate Round No. 1
GarretKadeDupre

Pro

Thanks for accepting my debate, ChristianLCompton!

You're right, I'll be arguing for the abolishment of both federal & state minimum wage laws.

Here is a summary of my arguments:

1. A law should be abolished if it either

  • fails to accomplish its primary objectives, or
  • works against its primary objectives.

2. The primary objectives of Minimum Wage laws are to reduce net poverty and net unemployment.

3. At best, Minimum Wage laws have no net effect on poverty or unemployment. At worst, they cause a net increase in poverty and unemployment.

4. Therefore, Minimum Wage laws should be abolished.


To clarify, I need only prove that Minimum Wage laws do not cause a net reduction in poverty and employment to win. Let's begin!

Minimum Wage Laws Don't Reduce Unemployment

10% raises in the Federal Minimum Wage generally correspond to a 4.5% increase in unemployment rates.3

The Congressional Joint Economic Committee published a paper based on 50 years of research on the Federal Minimum Wage. They summarised it this way:

The minimum wage reduces employment.”1

In states that have a minimum wage higher than the federal one, unemployment is 2% higher than in those states with a minimum wage equal to the Federal Minimum Wage.5

When employers are forced to pay wages higher than they can afford, they cut costs by laying off entry-level workers. Their positions are then either automated (replaced by machinery), or outsourced to a country without minimum wage laws.


Minimum Wage Laws Don't Reduce Poverty

The Employment Policies Insitute, a non-profit organization, also published a paper on this subject.

After analyzing poverty rates and increases in state & federal minimum wage laws from 2003 to 2007, they determined that raises in the minimum wage requirement have no effect on poverty.4

Even when the analysis was repeated using a 50% broader definition of “poverty”, the results were the same.

An explanation for this is the lack of ability these laws have in reaching their target population. Minimum wage laws disproportionately effect those who are already well-off. Of those who benefited from the increases in the Federal Minimum Wage between 2007 and 2009, 90% weren't in poverty!2


Your turn, Con. Goodluck!


1http://www.jec.senate.gov...

2http://www.academia.edu...

3Richard Burkhauser, Kenneth Couch et David Wittenberg, “Who Minimum Wage Increases Bite: An Analysis Using Monthly Data from the SIPP and CPS”, Southern Economic Journal, 2000

4http://www.epionline.org...

5http://blog.lib.umn.edu...

ChristianLCompton

Con


Concerns with Pro's Arguments


It is, indeed, quite true that a law should be abolished if it doesn't accomplish, or works against its primary objective. However, the primary objective of minimum wage laws is not to reduce net poverty, nor net unemployment; rather, the goal of the minimum wage was (when it was initially passed) to "stabilize the post-depression economy and protect the workers in the labor force1."


Protecting those whom are already employed would quite obviously affect unemployment in very little ways. A law aimed at creating jobs would be one directed at reducing poverty - the minimum wage laws, quite simply, are not such laws. The minimum wage laws entitle workers to a fair and living wage; it does not entitle the unemployed to reaping the benefits from such laws.


So, are minimum wage laws simply laws that abandon those in poverty and those who are unemployed? Not quite. Rather, minimum wage laws specifically target those who work to ensure that our workforce is protected from wages that are below what is required to live and be in satisfactory health.


The very first page of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 is the bill's summary, and there is no single statement that states that minimum wage should reduce unemployment2.


San Francisco has a minimum wage of $10.55. Interestingly, it has an unemployment rate of 5.6%3.


Historically, minimum wage has been increased in the United States on multiple occasions. Each time, people argued that raising it would be catastrophic - however, decades later, the United States still has the largest GDP in the world.


Raising the Minimum Wage would Not Affect Prices Dramatically


A USDA study in 1998 found that a fifty cent increase in the minimum wage, including a liberal spill over effect, only increased food prices by less than 1%, and even less on a consumer level4.


The difference between then and now, however, is that corporate executives have adopted a new philosophy that they are entitled to more of their corporate profits than they were back then. To clarify, between 1979 and 2007, the annual average income for the top 1% grew 156%5 6. The study goes even further to suggest that those in the top 0.1% witnessed income growths of 362%. The result of these executives taking more of the company’s profits for themselves is that there is less money to pay to basic workers. In effect, it is an intentional pay raise to justify refusing to pay higher wages to their workers.


In spite of this travesty, raising minimum wage would still only increase prices slightly7, but bring many already-employed workers out of poverty8.


A low minimum wage effectively discourages workers to work, so even if many corporate jobs were to open by the abolition of such laws, many people would refuse to take them out of feelings of entitlement to a living wage. To many, work has to have a purpose that goes deeper than just “it benefits the consumers,” or it “makes somebody else money.”




1 http://www.law.cornell.edu...


2 http://www.dol.gov...


3 https://www.google.com...


4 https://www.google.com...


5 http://www.epi.org...


6 http://www.theguardian.com...


7 http://abcnews.go.com...


8 http://nation.time.com...


Debate Round No. 2
GarretKadeDupre

Pro

Thanks for a punctual response, Con.

On to my rebuttals.

Primary Objectives Of Minimum Wage Laws

It seems like you don't agree with me on what the objectives of minimum wage laws are. You cite a paper that offers an opinion on the purpose of the Federal Minimum Wage when it was first enacted:

The purpose of the minimum wage was to stabilize the post-depression economy and protect the workers in the labor force.”

There are 2 problems with this. First, the Great Depression was long ago, so this is no longer relevant; your source says that was the purpose, implying that it is not the purpose today. Second, your paper effectively admits that this may not actually have been the true purpose, since it goes on to say that:

Others have argued that the primary purpose was [something else]

Since you have not offered an alternative explanation for what the primary goals of minimum wage laws are, only what they were, we are left with the same 2 objectives that I listed in the previous round: decreasing unemployment and poverty.

You say that minimum wage laws aren't directed at reducing poverty. This is incorrect. In his 2013 State of the Union Address, Obama supported raising the Federal Minimum Wage by arguing that full-time workers shouldn't have to be poor:

[L]et’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour.”

The Employment Policies Institute also calls the minimum wage “a program intended to reduce poverty.(my 4th source from Round 2)

You say minimum wage laws don't entitle the unemployed to reaping benefits, but that's kind of a strawman because I never argued that they do.

You also say that minimum wage laws “specifically target” workers to make sure they have the wages required “to live and be in satisfactory health.” First, let me point out that this is basically saying that reducing poverty is a primary goal of minimum wage laws, which contradicts one of your earlier statements. Second, I've already demonstrated that minimum wage laws do an awful job at targeting. If you look back to the previous round, I referenced a study which showed that increases the Federal Minimum Wage from 2007-2009 targeted those who were already well above the poverty threshold!

If a primary goal of minimum wages is to protect workers from wages that are below what is “required to live and be in satisfactory health”, than it is immensly wasteful. This is just another reason to support abolishment.

My opponent cited the minimum wage and unemployment rate of San Fracisco, California. Since he didn't base any argument on these statistics, I'm still wondering why he posted them...

  • Historically, minimum wage has been increased in the United States on multiple occasions. Each time, people argued that raising it would be catastrophic - however, decades later, the United States still has the largest GDP in the world.”

This appears to be another strawman.

I never argued that minimum wage laws are “catastrophic,” nor that they must be to warrant their abolishment. Neither did I argue that increasing the minimum wage requirement would drop the USA down a spot on the GDP leaderboard. What I said was a law should be abolished if merely fails to meet it's primary objectives. You agreed with me:

It is, indeed, quite true that a law should be abolished if it doesn't accomplish, or works against its primary objective.”

Effects On Prices

You spent a lot of your time arguing that increasing the minimum wage wouldn't dramatically affect prices. I'm just going to leave those bits alone for now, since my burden of proof doesn't depend on it.

Further Rebuttals

You said that “raising minimum wage would[...] bring many already-employed workers out of poverty.The study from my 4th source in Round 2 addresses this:

While an increase in the minimum wage will lift the families of some low-skilled workers who remain employed out of poverty, other low-skilled workers will lose their jobs or have their hours significantly cut, dropping their families into poverty.”

In other words, there is no net reduction in poverty nor unemployment; in fact, their may be a net increase.

  • A low minimum wage effectively discourages workers to work, so even if many corporate jobs were to open by the abolition of such laws, many people would refuse to take them out of feelings of entitlement to a living wage.”

Those are incorrect assumptions. Increasing the minimum wage raises the cost of labor at about the same rate. This means that any unemployment due to unsatisfaction with the minimum wage will remain the same regardless of how many times you increase the minimum wage.

Back to you, Con.

ChristianLCompton

Con

Thanks for posting a rebuttal, Pro! Sorry for the delay on this response, by the way.

The law's purpose, simply put, has not changed. You cannot dismiss the Great Depression's relevance to the debate since minimum wage laws were enacted in response to the Depression itself. Just because it happened long ago does not mean that it is no longer relevant. World War II happened relatively long ago, as well, but we don't dismiss its relevance to a debate about future world wars.

I believe you missed where I clearly offered an alternative to what you believe is the primary goal of minimum wage laws. I said it was to "stabilize the post-depression economy and protect the workers in the labor force," which is what the goal remains today. Perhaps my improper usage of "was" harmed my communication.

President Obama said that on the idea of raising the minimum wage, not establishing it. Minimum wage laws serve the same purpose today as they always have, though the debate to raise the minimum wage targets other purposes. That is what Mr. Obama was arguing on - surely the same thing would not have been said back when minimum wage laws were first proposed.

What I meant with the "reaping the benefits" statement was that the law does not aim to reduce unemployment, as it does not target the unemployed in any way that is designed to put them to work.

I referenced that San Francisco had a lower unemployment than the rest of its state, even though it maintained a higher minimum wage. That clearly depends on the statistic that I cited, which draws sources from the Department of Labor.

When I said some argued the laws as "catastrophic," I was referring to opponents of raising the minimum wage throughout history - not you. You are right - you did not use that terminology.

You argue that minimum wage negatively impacts employment. However, the effectiveness of the law is measured, realistically, by how unemployment would change without the law. The same goes for laws such as those that criminalize murder - we look at how it would be without the law, versus how it is with it. Were we to do as you advocate and abolish minimum wage, many workers would quit in response to lowered wages. If people are quitting in demand that the minimum wage be raised, it is reasonable to say that many more would quit if their security of a wage was abolished outright.

Also, studies you have cited have implied that raising minimum wage has led to an increase in unemployment - this an example of false cause. Trends do not always indicate causation, and it can easily be argued that a number of factors affect unemployment with much more precision than the minimum wage. With such a complex array of factors, no amount of studies are going to outright "prove" that minimum wage contributes directly to unemployment.

Of course increasing minimum wage increases cost of labor at the same rate. The "spill over," however, as well as the need for more funds to cover this cost, is witnessed in the price of goods - not the difficulty to get employed. Regardless of how minimum wage is, a company still needs just as many employees to operate as it did, previously. Thus, companies will still hire workers as they would before the raise.

In effect, the only remaining grounds left to argue on are those that minimum wage does not reduce poverty.

Debate Round No. 3
GarretKadeDupre

Pro

Thanks for the debate. I give up.
ChristianLCompton

Con

Interpreting that as forfeiting.

I appreciate the debate, tremendously, Pro. Great job!
Debate Round No. 4
56 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by NovaLux 3 years ago
NovaLux
The conduct part here was difficult, and I would have liked to award it to neither. Sure, they were certainly very formal and polite to each other, so I suppose in that sense of the word I would award it to both participants. But what I witnessed here was a somewhat disappointing defensive standoff. Both hid behind iron shields of facts and rarely ventured out to offer conceptual arguments, which would be more convincing. If you are too focused on defending your own positions and making sure your opponent can't find any chinks in the armor, no meaningful progress will be made. Instead, you are left with a mere debate on semantics and factual credibility. It may be said that the facts speak for themselves. It may also be said that facts are just starting points for inferences, and are grouped in with lies and damned lies. I would give a slight advantage to pro as con argued trends don't imply causation while using trends himself (San Fran, catastrophies). Pro cited from extensive pdfs.
<--Tried to post this in voting but it was too long.
Posted by progressivedem22 3 years ago
progressivedem22
*utilitarian, since
Posted by progressivedem22 3 years ago
progressivedem22
Very fair points which I agree with, though my main argument in favor of the minimum wage is that it's actually quite utilitarian, which the standards of living of the majority would improve (provided that the figure isn't unreasonable) because more demand in the economy is what is needed at this time.
Posted by Juan_Pablo 3 years ago
Juan_Pablo
Absolutely, a minimum wage increase would expand the income of the most poorest Americans, which would improve their quality of life slightly! I also believe it would reduce crime in America, though the amount of reduction would most likely depend on how much minimum wage is increased. I support a minimum wage increase for a variety of reasons.
Posted by progressivedem22 3 years ago
progressivedem22
That certainly mollifies the comment. But I'm sure you can acknowledge that a minimum wage increase accomplishes much more than simply "making the poor feel good about themselves."
Posted by Juan_Pablo 3 years ago
Juan_Pablo
Progressive, I meant "dirt poor". I often commit grammatical errors while typing.
Posted by progressivedem22 3 years ago
progressivedem22
"The dirty poor need a reason to work and to feel good about themselves, too, just like you or me."

Surely this was intended to be sarcastic, right?
Posted by Juan_Pablo 3 years ago
Juan_Pablo
No problem, garret.
Posted by GarretKadeDupre 3 years ago
GarretKadeDupre
lol thx
Posted by Juan_Pablo 3 years ago
Juan_Pablo
All people need a reason to feel good about themselves . . . if you take away minimum wage you're just forcing more people into the sewer of life!
9 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Vote Placed by MysticEgg 3 years ago
MysticEgg
GarretKadeDupreChristianLComptonTied
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Total points awarded:13 
Reasons for voting decision: Nice debate, guys! While Pro didn't convince me with his arguments, I'll give the conduct point to him; he gave a graceful concession. Spelling and grammar were pretty good and there certainly weren't enough mistakes, from either Pro or Con, to constitute a point. Arguments: Pro and Con kept up a strong case throughout, but, as they say, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Con found Pro's, exploited it, and destroyed it. Arguments to Con. Both gave good sources; they are tied, there.
Vote Placed by jnedwards11 3 years ago
jnedwards11
GarretKadeDupreChristianLComptonTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Would have scored conduct even and arguments to Pro had he not quit.
Vote Placed by debate339 3 years ago
debate339
GarretKadeDupreChristianLComptonTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Both sides were equally conceiving, so its is a tie for all.
Vote Placed by zrg4848 3 years ago
zrg4848
GarretKadeDupreChristianLComptonTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con posed not only more sources but also stronger ones. Con wins conduct for not forfeiting like Pro did. Cons arguments were stronger. Spelling and Grammar would go to Pro if he hadn't of forfeited.
Vote Placed by chengste 3 years ago
chengste
GarretKadeDupreChristianLComptonTied
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: PRO was wining and I would have given him the clear victory, however in the last round he "gave up" bummer
Vote Placed by AndrewB686 3 years ago
AndrewB686
GarretKadeDupreChristianLComptonTied
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Reasons for voting decision: This debate wasn't as strong as it could have been. Both sides didn't extrapolate very much, as such the arguments remained shallow and unrefined. Specifically too much time was focused on the semantics of the issue, not so much the actual controversy that minimum wage presents. I only provide conduct to con because pro, for whatever reason, decided to concede. I view that as submission and outright forfeit, even it is not as heinous as simply not posting anything. I won't award argument points to either side, as I was not impressed with the majority of the contentions brought forth.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 3 years ago
RoyLatham
GarretKadeDupreChristianLComptonTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro provided comprehensive data that raising the minimum wage increases unemployment. Con claimed that causality was not proved, but he gave no reason why studies done over 50 years should all happen to show the effect. Citing one counterexample does not establish any statistical relationship. "Stabilizing the post-depression economy" has no obvious meaning, Pro did not explain it or provide evidence why that applied today, half a century later. I have no idea why Pro "gave up," but con made no further arguments, so that just ended the debate one round early. A forfeit is only when a debater fails to post.
Vote Placed by Beverlee 3 years ago
Beverlee
GarretKadeDupreChristianLComptonTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro conceded.
Vote Placed by Enji 3 years ago
Enji
GarretKadeDupreChristianLComptonTied
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Reasons for voting decision: concession/forfeit.