This afternoon I was riled by a debate on minimum wage that I heard on CKNW, which you can listen to here (starting at 36:00). Many of the callers irritated me so much that I sent the host, Jon McComb, this e-mail:
I am now hearing with increasing regularity the following refrain from NDP callers: "If a small business can't afford to pay more than the minimum wage then maybe it shouldn't be in business." Have A-N-Y of these people ever tried running their own businesses?!?!? Why do I think not. As someone who has - three of them to date, I'm more than a little insulted by this comment and the assumptions behind it. These people seem to believe that:
- Pretty much anybody can start their own business and be quickly on the road to riches with little to no effort.
- There's absolutely no risk to running one's own business.
- The only necessary requirement to being a business owner is insatiable greed and a desire to "step on the backs" of working people.
As a small business owner, I work hard and struggle every single month. When one of my ventures failed, I was personally stuck with a fairly large debt, which I'm still paying back today. In my career, I've paid people as low as $11 per hour and as high as $XX per hour. Those are my personal truths. I don't complain about them normally but when I hear such despicable language about business owners coming out of the mouths of my fellow British Columbians, the hairs on the back of my neck go up.
One thing's for sure: If the minimum wage is raised then it will have a cascading effect upward on all other wages throughout out society. And that in turn will drive the prices of everything up as well. Do I want more people to live a prosperous life? Absolutely. Do I think that raising the minimum wage will help in this regard? Absolutely not.