Minimum Wage Goes Up, Up, Up Like a Flying Machine


The federal minimum wage is climbing by 11 percent, to $7.25 per hour, today. Are you sufficiently stimulated yet? 

To dampen your enthusiasm, the Associated Press dug up a few choice quotes from heartless capitalists unwilling to pay workers anything north of starvation wages:

At Bench Warmers Bar and Grill in the southeast Kansas farming town of Chanute (pronounced sha-NOOT), owner Cathy Matney has decided to let some of her dishwashers go rather than pay all 22 of her employees more.

"It's bad timing," said Matney, whose waitresses and cooks will have to pitch in with scrubbing pots and pans. "With the economy like this, there's a lot of people who are out of work and this is only going to add to it."

Ryan Arfmann, who owns a Jamba Juice shop in Idaho Falls, Idaho, will be cutting hours to his staff, which is made up largely of college students, high schoolers and homemakers who want to make a few bucks.

"Am I going to fire anybody, no," Arfmann said. "But kids understand there's going to be hours cut." 

Meanwhile, onward marches the fine Washington tradition of completely ignoring the possibility of unintended consequences:

Backers of the increase say it's long overdue for millions of the nation's working poor. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., authored the 2007 minimum wage legislation, which increased pay for the first time in a decade.

"A higher minimum wage helps working families' budgets and results in increased spending on local business, which is good for everyone," Miller said in an e-mail. He did not say whether he would have pushed to raise the minimum wage in an economic climate like the current one, and he did not immediately respond to a message left Thursday with his spokesman. 

Nothing, nothing, about this plan could possibly go wrong.

Steve Chapman wrote about this dangerous minimum wage increase yesterday:

If you're a minimum wage employee, your job will pay more, but only if it still exists. These days, most companies are scrutinizing every position on the payroll to make sure it's worth the cost. Raise the toll, and some employees will find they are no longer valuable enough to make the cut.