• Mayor Pete Quotes the Bible Again – and Once Again Does It Badly

    Surge Summary: South Bend, IN Mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg insists failure to support a national minimum wage is unchristian – but his argument is both unbiblical and illogical.

    Certainly unintentionally, Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg prompts a thought-provoking question: “Does God want people to lose their jobs?”

    Hans Bader informs:

    Seventy-two percent of economists oppose a high $15 minimum wage, because it would wipe out too many jobs and result in many employers restricting their employees’ work hours.

    But liberal South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg recently implied that God supports a $15 minimum wage. He did so even though he pays many of his own city employees far less than that.

    As the National Review notes, Buttigieg tried “to score some cheap points by suggesting that God wants” a $15 minimum wage. Mayor Pete said that “so-called conservative Christian senators right now in the Senate are blocking a bill to raise the minimum wage” to $15, “when scripture says, ‘Whoever oppresses the poor taunts their maker.’” The bill Buttigieg “referred to is the Raise the Wage Act, which would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025. It also would eliminate the exemption for tipped positions, gradually raising the minimum wage for wait staff by 560 percent.”

    Buttigieg’s upshot is that “not paying at least a $15 hourly wage is anti-Christian and a cruel act of oppression.”

    Wow. Them’s hard words for anyone who wants to please his Maker.

    This ironic nugget emerges: the City of South Bend, which Buttigieg as mayor presumably runs, pays many of its employees less than that proposed minimum wage rate. The “city’s own website unabashedly advertises numerous positions which would pay below that $15 an hour minimum: $10.10 per hour, for instance, to people employed as a “maintenance worker” or “golf course player assistant.” $12/hour is offered to laborers.

    How about this? Buttigieg himself had boasted about paying his own employees $10.10 an hour, as though that were a good thing, an adequate wage. Yet now, he declares that anything shy of the $15/hour mark “oppresses the poor” in the eyes of the Lord – that it is a sin!

    Bader mentions National Review which points out, Buttigieg’s accusations are both unscriptural and illogical:

    “Nothing in the Bible dictates that Christians pay their employees whatever wage is arbitrarily chosen by politicians eager for votes.”

    The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says that a $15 minimum wage would eliminate a substantial number of jobs, and actually “reduce real family income” nationally as employers reduce employees’ work hours. Senator Bernie Sanders recently had to restrict his employees’ work hours in order to afford paying them a $15 minimum wage.

    Estimates are that in California alone a $15 minimum wage will eventually scotch 700,000 jobs. In a piece of harsh but painful contemporary confirmation, jobs are already being lost in New York and Illinois where recent state laws are gradually increasing the minimum wage to $15.

    I’d call that an economic warning shot …

    $15 may seem like a modest wage for an employer to pay– especially if you live in an expensive city or suburb. But there are parts of the country where living costs are very low, with low average wages to match — where the median wage is less than $15 and a middle-class couple each making $12 per hour can raise a family. It is wrong to ban employers in such areas from providing people with $12 an hour jobs, when such employers can’t afford to pay $15 per hour, and the choice is between a job at $12 per hour, and no job at $15 per hour.

    This would be the principle of federalism applied. Big central government, butt out. Stay out of the way as much as possible, allow the states, local authorities and individuals to tend to their business however they can.

    The state of Mississippi , for instance, has a median wage below $15. So what’s life in Mississippi like?  Most folks in the Magnolia State own their own home,. This may shock some, but Mississippians have plenty to eat and access to medical care. Similarly, there are inexpensive regions in many other states. This includes wealthy states like Maryland and Virginia — areas where the typical wage is below $15 per hour, yet the middle-class thrives.

    The median household income in Buchanan County, Virginia, is $31,800, which could include a hypothetical married couple each making $8 per hour. The median hourly wage in the county is way under $15 per hour, yet most people there own their own home and few if any go hungry. A home there costs only a little over a tenth what a home costs in more expensive areas of Virginia, like Arlington County. Maryland’s Somerset County has a median hourly wage of well under $15 per hour.

    An enforced, unrealistic $15 minimum wage would bankrupt many employers in these places. Non-business owners may not get it, but most employers in these areas — especially small businesses — can’t simply raise wages willy-nilly without going under. Corporations have a modest average profit margin of only under 8%. Small businesses? They commonly enjoy even smaller gains (particularly in retail). Conceivably, their profit could be entirely wiped out by an arbitrary, D.C.-imposed wage hike.

    A lawmaker’s decree doesn’t scrub out these realities.

    What option would struggling employers or entrepreneurs facing these financial realities have? They can lay off their employees. They can cut workers’ hours. They can shrink products or services offered.

    What do all those alternatives have in common? People – employees or customers – suffer.

    How “Christian” is it to push that end result, Mayor Pete? Please consult the Bible and get back to us on that question.

    Image: Creative Commons; CC by @2.0;  https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/47232459232/in/pool-1392129@N20

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