The Instigator
roark555
Con (against)
Winning
4 Points
The Contender
AlternativeDavid
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points

The minimum wage is a good law

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
roark555
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/4/2015 Category: Economics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 826 times Debate No: 72896
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (0)
Votes (2)

 

roark555

Con

I will be arguing that the minimum wage is a bad law that should be abolished. Round 1 is for acceptance, 2 is for opening arguments, 3-4 is rebuttals and arguments, 5 is closing statements.
Good luck David.
AlternativeDavid

Pro

To reaffirm the resolution, I will be arguing that the Minimum Wage is in fact a good law. I too wish Mr. Brown luck.
Debate Round No. 1
roark555

Con

Thank you for accepting this debate.

In my view, the minimum law is an immoral, economically unjustified, and overall silly law that should be abolished. Now there are primarily two strong arguments against the minimum wage, the economic argument and the ethical argument, and I will state these now.
The ethical argument:
The employer-employee contract involves no force by either party. If I offer to pay David 4.00 dollars an hour to mow my lawn and he agrees to it, no force has been initiated. It is simply an activity between two consenting adults, just like marriage between homosexuals, which I know my opponent is in favor of. Now let me pose the question: who's concern is it what the wage agreement is between me and David? What gives the government, or anybody else the right to interfere with a voluntary interaction between consenting adults? A law is essentially a threat of force, namely if you commit/fail to commit action X you will have force committed against you. And this is fine for things like murder, rape, assault, theft etc. But that is BECAUSE these actions involve force against others. When me and David voluntarily agree to a particular wage, no violence is in that equation. The only force involved is that which is committed by the government when it enforces the minimum wage law.

The economic argument(s):
On the economic side of it, one must first pose the question: Why do entrepreneurs hire people to work for them? Why not hire nobody and do everything yourself? You hire people for the same reason that you use laptops and machinery, namely it saves you time and increases your productivity. You can be more productive if, instead of flipping all the burgers
yourself you hire someone to do that for you, in the same way that using a laptop makes you more productive than if you had to us scrolls and carrier pigeons. Now think about it: If the price of something goes up, what do w generally do? We buy less of it. If houses were 3 dollars, people would buy more houses. If the price of yogurt went up to 20 dollars a pack, people would buy less yogurt. Labor is no different.
If you raise the minimum wage from 8 dollars an hour to 15 dollars an hour, you are simply raising the price of hiring somebody. Wages are generally determined by productivity. That's why stock brokers make more than people who work at gas stations, and why engineers make more than subway employees. Now lets take the example of someone who is a teenager, and is first entering the workforce. Because of a lack of job experience, this individual is low skilled and has low productivity. Because of this, his wage would probably be around 5-7 dollars an hour hypothetically. But if the minimum wage was raised to 15 dollars an hour, his odds of being hired will drastically decrease.
People like to think of the minimum wage as a floor under wages, and if you raise the floor, you raise wages. But what the minimum wage really is is a barrier you have to jump over to get a job, and the higher that barrier is raised, the harder it is to get employed. The law also discriminates against unskilled workers the most, because nobody worries about the minimum wage with regards to Doctors or lawyers.
Another good economic argument against the minimum wage is that it actually favors big business. The reason is that if you're Walmart or Target, you would have a much easier time complying with the law than a small diner. If the left really worried about big business taking over, they'd be against the minimum wage.

And there is another principle at work, and that is the principle of trade. By it's nature, trade is win-win, because both parties expect to benefit. David has a watch, and I have a pen. I want the watch more than the pen, David wants the pen more than the watch, so we decide to trade. Who loses? Nobody. Now that's not to say that after the fact you wont necessarily regret it, you may later wish that you hadn't partaken in the transaction, but in that moment you expected to benefit. Now the example of trade that I was gave was barter, but the same principle applies when talking about employers and employees. The employee offers his labor in exchange for money. If one of them thought it wasn't in his best interest to engage in the arrangement, the arrangement would not have taken place. So if someone is working at a particular establishment, it is reasonable to presume that both the employer and employee think they get something out of it.

In short, I am against the minimum wage because I view it as immoral, and economically detrimental.
http://mises.org...
https://www.youtube.com...
AlternativeDavid

Pro

I apologize if anything I say is construed as a rebuttal. I stopped reading my opponent's arguments halfway through to ensure I could go at this with an uninfluenced opening statement. I will continue reading afterwards.

---


In a capitalist economy wages are dictated by supply and demand. If the supply of job positions is higher than the demand, wages will go up as employers compete for workers. If the supply of job positions is lower than the demand, wages will go down as workers compete for employment. If the economies of the world were always strong, and there were always more employment opportunities than people, there would be no need for a minimum wage. The need for a minimum wage has its roots in times of a weak economy. There comes a point when a person may be forced into taking a wage that is not high enough for them to provide for their family, and allowing this violates three provisions of the UN's Declaration of Human Rights.


The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights has 30 total provisions and can be found here: [1]

Article 3 states "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person."

Let's say that a person named Robert didn't go to college for financial reasons. The economy is in a depression, and he is struggling to find a well paying job with just a high school diploma. He is forced find a low paying job as a fry cook. The job was listed as $8 an hour pre-recession, but is now listed at $4.50 due to increased demand, and the fact that the owner can get away with charging that little. Robert would love to turn down the job, but he knows that a low paying job is better than no job. At least this way, he won't starve to death in an alley way.

Article 4 states "No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms"

Note that this says "in ALL their forms"

If a man is working for so little that he can only pay bills and purchase necessities, he is practically a slave. If his schedule resembles this:

-wake up
-go to work
-come home
-go to sleep
(repeat ad infinitum)

Then one cannot argue otherwise. A person in this position has entered an inescapable cycle of poverty, so they are trapped in their job without any way out. If they leave they have no guarantee of finding another job, and somebody who was already incapable of purchasing even the cheapest of luxuries cannot afford to go to school.

Article 24 states "Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours..."

No man (or woman) should have to work full time and still live a life of poverty. Working for $4 an hour because you aren't qualified for a better paying job means you might have to work two or three of them. This is assuming that another job could even be attained. Any country that allows its citizens to work so many hours that their right to rest and leisure has been violated, then that country itself is at fault for violating the article.


---

The next major issue is with an absence of a minimum wage is the emergence of a de facto monopoly artificially controlling wages.

The term monopoly is defined as the "exclusive control of a commodity or service in a particular market, or a control that makes possible the manipulation of prices." [2]

I would just like to focus on the last part there.

A company that has a monopoly, or a group of companies that form a trade alliance, may set wages as they wish. If Samuel wants a job as a chemical engineer, but cannot just start his own company. Doing so would require him to lower his prices enough to compete with the company that controls the market. As Samuel is not rich and powerful corporation, he cannot survive in this market. John D. Rockefeller used the tactic of selling oil at a loss in order to get rid of competition because he could afford to.

This leaves Samuel with one option: join a company that is in the field. Sam sends an email to the corporation stating that he is considering applying for a job, and would like to know how much he would make. Samuel gets a reply with the number $7 an hour. In a better world, Samuel could go to their competitors and shop around to find a better potential salary, but alas, in this world he has no choice because there are no competitors.

A minimum wage would protect Samuel from being forced to work for so little.

---

The minimum wage is a beneficial, and I dare say necessary, aspect of any industrialized nation because not only does it protect workers from having to accept wages that are too low during times of recession or not, but it also protects the human rights established by the international body known as the United Nations.



[1] http://www.un.org...
[2] http://dictionary.reference.com...
Debate Round No. 2
roark555

Con

One point that I feel I must re state for the sake of clarity is that the minimum wage is a barrier to entry for unskilled workers.

Lets take the example of Sean. Sean is 15, and works at a local family owned grocery store. His main job is sweeping and stacking shelves. He works for the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, and his employer calculates that his productivity is roughly $8.00 an hour. Therefore, when his employer pays him, he makes a 75 cent profit for every hour Sean works there. Now lets say the minimum wage was raised to $15.00 an hour. Since this is a new cost on the business, the employer has to make a decision on whether or not it is worth it for him to keep certain employees. Because Sean has a productivity of about 8 dollars an hour, and the minimum wage is now 15 dollars an hour, rather than making a 75 cent profit, the employer will now lose money. Most employers will not keep an employee if it is not worth it to them, unless it's out of charity.
One or more of a few things is likely to follow. Sean will be fired, or his hours cut. Sean's friend Dylan also wanted a job at the Grocery store as well, but his odd's of being hired have been decreased. The employer may also choose to compensate for the extra cost by raising the price of the goods he is selling. And again, i'd like to point out that this favors big business because companys like Dominion ( I don't know if you have this in the united states, it's a large chain of grocery stores.) will have an easier time dealing with these new costs than the small store that Sean works with.

But my question, or rather Reductio ad Absurdum is why stop at 9-15 dollars an hour? Why not make it 100 dollars an hour? Wouldn't that mean an enormous wage increase? No, because at some point people understand that the cost of hiring will either be too much for certain businesses to bear and they'll go broke, or it just wont be worth it for some companies to hire people anymore. Now it's important to understand that the point at which this would happen is different for every line of work. Raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15.00 won't affect Doctor's, or bankers, or Chemical engineers because they already make well above minimum wage. But this WILL affect low-skilled workers, making it that much harder for them to find jobs.
Now some people say that it can be economically beneficial to raise wages, and that is absolutely true, no question. But if the employer sees it in his best interest to raise wages, then he will do it. The minimum wage is unnecessary for this. The same goes for giving jobs out of charity.

David points out that in a bad economy, the minimum wage is more necessary than ever. But surely, when looking at a struggling economy, the last thing on your mind should be artificially raising the cost of hiring somebody. And I find the idea that the employer is enslaving the employee in the situation described ridiculous. David said it himself, if the choice is starve to death or take the low paying job, it really isn't much of a choice at all. Slavery implies that the worker cannot leave. The employer is not pointing a gun at the employee, forcing him to work for him. He is offering the individual an opportunity: an opportunity to not starve on the streets, and make a better life for himself in the long run. In an economy that bad, this person should be happy to have a job at all. There is no coercion involved. It largely comes back to the whole principle that trade is win win. If either party in this situation doesn't feel that he or she will benefit from this contract, then the contract will not take place.

"A minimum wage would protect Samuel from being forced to work for so little." Again, the only force involved is when the government enforces the minimum wage law. If Samuel feels that it is not in his best interest to take a job with a particular company that pays 7 dollars per hour then he will not take the job. But if he DOES take the job, one can assume that he thought it WAS in his best interest to take the job.

Now please note that this is not a personal attack, but the notion that we have to "protect" samuel I find incredibly condescending, and monumentally patronizing and paternalistic Liberal elitism, unfortunately very prominent today. You are treating samuel like a CHILD. I probably should not have included this as it's not a real argument, but it's something that just really irks me.
But the bottom line is, it's no business of mine, or your's, or the government's what the voluntary contract is between consenting adults. Otherwise, we are no better than the social conservatives that me and David both decry.

http://reason.com...
http://reason.com...
http://www.cato.org...
AlternativeDavid

Pro

This will just be a rebuttal against Patrick's opening statement due to time constraints. I will rebut the rebuttals in the next round. I apologize if I say anything that he feels he already rebutted.


I always find the ethical argument to be tricky because I don't believe in a universal morality, so I certainly hope that Patrick has the same one that I do.

---
Ethical Arguments:

I already addressed this first argument in my opening statement, so I will only briefly touch on it.

I find this "ethical" argument to be based on a fallacy. The basis of this argument is that "the employer-employee contract involves no force by either party." I'm arguing that the force isn't necessarily initiated by either party, but by an outside force. This force is often the health of the economy. A minimum wage protects the common laborer from having to work for an unreasonably low amount just because the employer can get away with it.

Economic arguments:

This entire argument forgets a major factor with wages. People need a certain amount of money to survive. The cost of living varies from place to place in cities throughout the world. It costs more to live in London, UK than it does to live in Des Moines, USA. It costs roughly $40,000 per year to live in my city, a suburb of the District of Columbia. The national US minimum wage pays roughly 15,000. This means that somebody working two full time minimum wage jobs would only make 75% of what is required. People shouldn't have to pack up and move just because they are low-skilled workers.

"Another good economic argument against the minimum wage is that it actually favors big business."

If a company cannot afford to pay their workers a reasonable amount, then it doesn't deserve to survive.

"If one of them thought it wasn't in his best interest to engage in the arrangement, the arrangement would not have taken place. So if someone is working at a particular establishment, it is reasonable to presume that both the employer and employee think they get something out of it."

As I have previously stated, an outside force may, and has, coerced people to take employment opportunities that they don't necessarily want. This happens every time that there is a recession in the economy. Yes, the one who is working may realize that what he getting is money so that his family doesn't starve, but he shouldn't be working with the primary motive of keeping himself and his family fed. That should be a side effect of working.

---

In short, when people are coerced into certain labor by economic conditions, they should at least have the comfort of knowing that their government is protecting them from abusive wages. Also, I'd like to remind the audience that this debate is whether or not "the minimum wage is a good law." This means that we are debating the theoretical existence of laws governing the minimum wage, not necessarily any specific wage such as the $15 that was mentioned by opponent.
Debate Round No. 3
roark555

Con

"I find this "ethical" argument to be based on a fallacy. The basis of this argument is that "the employer-employee contract involves no force by either party." I'm arguing that the force isn't necessarily initiated by either party, but by an outside force. This force is often the health of the economy. A minimum wage protects the common laborer from having to work for an unreasonably low amount just because the employer can get away with it."

I find this odd, because in any given interaction there are outside factors. If me and my friends want to go for a drive around town, we have to account for the weather, the road conditions, other drivers and pedestrians. In an employer employee situation, the economy may be good or it may be bad, that doesn't change the fact that it is a voluntary contract between consenting adults. David also points out that the minimum wage protects low skilled workers from having to get payed what he deems an unreasonably low amount. But if it's a bad economy, if the price of hiring somebody is greater than what that person is worth the the business then he or she will not be hired. Rather than protect people, this hinders them from finding employment.

"This entire argument forgets a major factor with wages. People need a certain amount of money to survive. The cost of living varies from place to place in cities throughout the world. It costs more to live in London, UK than it does to live in Des Moines, USA. It costs roughly $40,000 per year to live in my city, a suburb of the District of Columbia. The national US minimum wage pays roughly 15,000. This means that somebody working two full time minimum wage jobs would only make 75% of what is required. People shouldn't have to pack up and move just because they are low-skilled workers."

I would like to emphasize on that last statement. People should be allowed to attempt to live wherever they wish, however that doesn't translate into them being entitled to a certain wage. People should live wherever is best for them. If they can't afford to live in new york or the District of columbia, then they should move. I apologize if that is politically incorrect, but that doesn't seem controversial to me. Don't live where you can't afford it.

"If a company cannot afford to pay their workers a reasonable amount, then it doesn't deserve to survive."

I believe I may have stated that while larger companies may not go under due to the minimum wage, they may not find it worth it to them to keep on certain low skilled workers. But smaller businesses like the family owned grocery store that I mentioned in the previous argument will be the ones to suffer.

"As I have previously stated, an outside force may, and has, coerced people to take employment opportunities that they don't necessarily want. This happens every time that there is a recession in the economy. Yes, the one who is working may realize that what he getting is money so that his family doesn't starve, but he shouldn't be working with the primary motive of keeping himself and his family fed. That should be a side effect of working."

In response to the first sentence, sometimes we all have to do things that we don't necessarily want to do. It's called life. As much as I dislike that phrase, it's true, and it doesn't make you entitled to a particular wage.
Also, just to be clear when I was talking about a theoretical minimum wage of $15.00/hr, I was just using it as an example. I could have picked any number.
Final round next! I'm enjoying this.
AlternativeDavid

Pro

I really wish I didn't have to do this, but I must forfeit this round of the debate due to lack of time to work on it. Since the rules state that round 5 is for closing statements only, I am going to give my opponent the win because I wasn't able to offer anything more than my initial arguments and a few rebuttals. Thanks for an entertaining three rounds.
Debate Round No. 4
roark555

Con

I would like to thank David for a sound debate performance on a very important topic. I hope to do this again sometime soon.;
AlternativeDavid

Pro

AlternativeDavid forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
No comments have been posted on this debate.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by tejretics 2 years ago
tejretics
roark555AlternativeDavidTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Concession.
Vote Placed by Theunkown 2 years ago
Theunkown
roark555AlternativeDavidTied
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Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro asked voters to give con the win due to time constraint