OPINION | Barry Richard: Make Lawmakers Accountable For Min. Wage Hike
If the minimum wage in Massachusetts is going to be increased to $15 dollars an hour, then state lawmakers should be man and woman enough to vote on the matter. As with the marijuana legalization issue lawmakers appear ready to cower hand off a decision to the electorate by means of an initiative petition.
Raising the minimum wage sounds as wonderful to low skilled workers as a millionaires tax does. It takes it to the man. Spreads the wealth by forcing the greedy businessman to share his profits with the meager peons who slave all day over a hot grill or cash register. After all, what right does anyone who has invested his or her own blood, sweat, tears and cash over many years to be profitable?
A $15 dollar minimum wage would destroy jobs in Massachusetts. The very jobs that the low skilled workforce depends upon. It would also force many businesses to reduce hours of operation and charge higher prices. Massachusetts requires many retailers to pay workers time and a half on Sunday. A $15 dollar minimum would drive the hourly wage to $22.50 an hour on Sunday. The same businesses that are already facing competition from sales tax free websites and nearby New Hampshire.
Business is already being slammed in Massachusetts by elected officials who don't have the courage to reduce spending. Rather than reform MassHealth, business is being asked to carry more of the burden for the out of control program.
Where $15 minimum wage laws have been implemented, workers have seen an increase in pay but have been scheduled for fewer hours stunting any benefit from the increase. Others have watched their jobs taken over by automation.
Politicians pander to the unions and coalitions like Raise Up Massachusetts by speaking in favor of huge increases - the same crooks who raised their own pay to astronomical levels twice since last December. Indications are though that these cowards are prepared to step back and refrain from voting on the record on this issue. Instead, they'll allow it to go on the ballot next year. Just like they did on the marijuana bill.
Lawmakers who refuse to vote on the tough issues are cowards and should be replaced. As a matter of fact, if we are going to rule by initiative petition what need do we even have for a legislature anyway?
Editor’s Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.