I suppose the economic illiteracy of people seeking public office shouldn’t surprise me anymore. The Grand Rapids Press reports that James Jendrasiak, seeking re-election to the Grand Rapids City Commission, and Rosalynn Bliss, also seeking a seat on the commission, have endorsed a “living wage” policy for the City of Grand Rapids. At a recent debate hosted by Grand Valley State University, both candidates would give city contracts to high bidders over low bidders if the former is paying so-called living wages and benefits to its employees.
Of course, there is no objective basis for determining what constitutes a “living wage”. It is an arbitrary amount based upon a set of assumptions that take no account of huge variability of personal circumstances employees actually are in. A living wage for a young guy sharing an apartment is one thing. A living wage for a parent of three or four children is another. A living wage for a couple with severe medical problems and sky-high health care bills is yet another. The logic of a living wage is that a business should pay an employee what he needs to live comfortably rather than for the amount of work he does.
A true living wage policy embodies the insidious Marxist decree: From each everything he has, to each everything he needs. Because that doesn’t fly in this country, lefties like Bliss and Jendrasiak slap the feel-good phrase “living wage” upon a completely arbitrary policy of fixed market wages. So it sounds good to compassionate voters who don’t think through the job-killing effects of mandating non-competitive wages, and the candidates get a pat on the back from the unions with large campaign war chests.
And if the living wage policy goes into effect, the taxpayers get shafted by overpaying government contractors. Sure, the rich taxpayers can afford it, but what about the ones still climbing the economic ladder to success? You know, the guy who needs to spend his wages on living, not higher taxes. Of course, that assumes he is even earning a wage after his employer eliminates his job to stretch out the payroll to meet the demands of the government’s living wage policy. The living wage is economic idiocy that a politician supports because he is either a cynic or soft-headed.