I Want Fast Food Workers to Make $15 an Hour

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“There is no reason why in a society which has reached the general level of wealth which ours has attained the first kind of security should not be guaranteed to all without endangering general freedom … there can be no doubt that some minimum of food, shelter, and clothing, sufficient to preserve health and the capacity to work, can be assured to everybody.”

Which dastardly villain of the Left uttered the above socialistic-leaning statement? If you guessed (or just plain knew) that the above quote is lifted from F.A. Hayek’s seminal book, The Road to Serfdom, you are correct. Hayek is about as far away from being a dastardly villain of the Left as possible; taken in context, that quote isn’t close to being socialistic-leaning. For many, however, the quote’s sentiment is reflected, at the least and wrongfully, in the current Leftist desire to artificially raise wages. The problem is that many who support raising the minimum wage have an understanding of economics (or lack of understanding) that is divorced from Hayek’s sturdy economic theory, so much so as to make any affinity for Hayek’s quote from proponents of minimum wage hikes intellectually dishonest. On the other side, however, many opponents of raising the minimum wage appear to lack any of Hayek’s compassion.

But, setting aside for now the quote from the famed conservative economist, I feel compelled to stake out a rather strident position regarding artificially raising wages. As my first shot across the progressive economic bow, I’m going to rely on Murray Rothbard to provide the foundation for my thesis, for Rothbard knew that, “In truth, there is only one way to regard a minimum wage law: it is compulsory unemployment, period.”

Several years ago, I watched as a friend’s marriage teetered on the cliff of dissolution. While I’m sure that there were several contributing variables, his ownership of a fast food restaurant played a very substantial, if not the primary, role in the tension within his marriage.

Recently retired from the military, this friend had saved enough money to buy the franchise rights and open the restaurant. From all appearances, his restaurant was thriving; it was a rare meal service that the restaurant wasn’t full. But, restaurants have high overheads and low profit margins. In the restaurant industry, there is a rule that the owner should be prepared to work without pay for the first two years. In order to help ensure his family’s financial future, my friend worked open to close seven days a week, with the very occasional day off. This was to help keep the overhead down. Of course, this wise business and financial decision put a strain on his marriage. If he had been forced to raise wages to $15 an hour, I imagine that not only would his marriage not have survived the added strain, but his business would’ve closed, too. The employees that he did have would’ve become unemployed.