03 Feb 00

Living Wage / False Wage Base Will Be Discussed Next Tuesday


By Jon A. Brake

On Tuesday February 8th it will be "Back To The Future" for the Manhattan City Commission. You remember
"Back To The Future" where the young man is taken back to the í50s. It made for a good movie but it will make
a bad City Commission Meeting.

The Commission will be taken back to a time when the Cold War was hot. The Communist wanted to take over
the United State by any means possible. Well, the Commission will be discussing an old Communist gimmick:
"The Living Wage."

Tim Richardson, with the Kansas State Collegian talked with Michael Oldfather, associate professor of
economics last week and this is what Oldfather said: "A living wage would ultimately lead to higher consumer
prices. By raising the price of wages, the costs will be passed on in higher prices for goods."

He also said: "If businesses are forced to pay workers more that they are worth, some firms will be forced out of
business, while others will shift away from hiring additional workers. "If you canít operate profitably, itís just not
realistic to pay people more than they are worth. Itís one thing if itís applied to the whole country, because there
is no place to escape. If you do it locally, youíre going to end up losing jobs."

Oldfather said paying workers less than a market-driven wage will result in high turnover and increased expense
from retraining additional workers; therefore, most workers are paid what they are worth in the marketplace."

Do living wage advocates acknowledge the negative impacts of the policies they propose?
At least one of the leading proponents of living wage - the Association of Community Organizations for Reform
Now (ACORN) - readily admitted in a court
case that higher minimum wages lead to job loss. In 1995, ACORN sued the state of California in an effort to
secure an exemption from the stateís minimum wage laws for its own employees. In the incredible legal brief
supporting itís case, ACORN clearly stated, "the more that ACORN must pay
each individual outreach worker - either because the minimum wage or overtime requirement - the fewer
outreach workers it will be able to hire.*" ACORN also stated that "Californiaís minimum wage laws... affect the
quality and quantity of staff" the organization can hire.* Association of Community Organization for Reform Now
vs State of California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, Case No.
AO69744, Appellantís Opening Brief, in the Court of
Appeal of California, First Appellate District, Division Five, August, 1995.

Minimum wage is $5.15 per hour. It is true that you can not support a family on that wage but most minimum
wage earners are not supporting a family.

Most low-wage workers are not working forty hours per week. The have not held the same job for more than a
year. Most low-wages earners are young, single, living with their parents and to be truthful are not worth more
than minimum wage.

Making business owners pay $8.91 per hour will remove the low-wage earners from the work force. They will not
get the experience needed for a better paying job.

The Future of Manhattan is not in the failed policies of the past but in the free market place of tomorrow. We do
not need a mandated wage, living or minimum.