Originally Published: April 9, 2014 6 a.m.
The column, "Minimum wage hike hurts everyone," by Keith Hall and Robert Greene deserves a response in the interests of truth and fairness.
Raising the minimum wage is sound policy: it increases the reward for work among low- and moderate-income households struggling to make ends meet. The experience of businesses themselves show that what companies lose when they pay more is most often offset by lower turnover and increased productivity. The argument that a higher minimum wage would hurt business is old and tired. Costco, one of the most successful retailers in the country, has a starting wage of $11.50 per hour for most entry-level jobs. There is clear and compelling evidence that the economy and companies enjoy real benefits when workers are paid more.
Hall and Greene tell us that two-thirds of Arizonans earning near-minimum wage are single and never married. So? Should we now determine one's salary based on marital status? Quite like paying starvation wages based on age.
What are we saying about the respect we have for work and working families when we coolly tolerate a system in which a man or woman can work full-time in this affluent country and still be condemned to a life of poverty, including all the denial of opportunity that such indecent wages bring? A livable wage would do much to improve the lives of those whose incomes are now supplemented by charity or government-subsidized programs. With a living wage an individual can take pride in his or her work and enjoy the decency of a life beyond poverty.
It is not acceptable that we treat workers as little more than obstacles in the path to bigger profits.