A recent letter to the editor advocating for increased minimum wages in B.C., as a means of lifting children out of poverty, is a red herring.
Citing statistics from a youth advocacy group which claims widespread poverty, the writer says the solution is to raise parents income through an increase in the minimum wage.
A rising tide lifts all ships and that is the intended result of advocacy groups, whose sole intent is to put more immediate dollars in their pockets with no regard for the downstream consequences, which can be devastating for small business.
More than 400,000 small businesses in B.C., defined as employing fewer than 50 people, employ 1.1 million British Columbians.
These are, to a large extent, family owned and operated, and work in an extremely competitive environment, rife with government red tape and taxes.
A significant increase in the minimum wage would very likely lead to a decrease in employment as the owners struggle with overhead.
Further up the food chain, key longtime employees making significantly more than minimum wage will expect to keep their advantage over minimum wage earners with a significant wage increase of their own.
The only way to fund these demands is to increase business revenue by raising prices, or lowering overhead by reducing service or laying off lower earning workers.
Few of these activists live in the real world and think nothing of indebting the future to satisfy their current demands.
Most of us have worked for minimum wage or less in our lives with summer student jobs, or early in careers where the skills learned carry us on to our adult careers.
I don’t know that anyone should expect a minimum wage job is going to allow them to live comfortably in today’s world, anymore than it did decades ago. Many of these poverty activist groups however are a cog in the wheel of the public unions which look to statistics such as the minimum wage as they demand more from the public purse.
The letter writer suggests there is nothing to be afraid of when considering the issue of raising minimum wages in B.C.
Wages and prices are part of the natural cycle of supply and demand in the market economy we enjoy in this civilized country.
Legislating any part of that equation is the slippery slope toward more government and less freedom which I would suggest is indeed something to be afraid of.