At the second round of Democratic debates on Tuesday evening, Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Ind., said opponents of raising the minimum wage are not Christians.
“The minimum wage is just too low. And so-called conservative Christian senators right now in the Senate are blocking a bill to raise the minimum wage when scripture says, ‘Whoever oppresses the poor taunts their maker,'” Buttigieg declared, citing Proverbs 14:31.
Buttigieg: "So called conservative Christian senators right now in the Senate are blocking a bill to raise the minimum wage when scripture says that whoever oppresses the poor taunts their maker." pic.twitter.com/kDpQBc7Imr
— Axios (@axios) July 31, 2019
The mayor’s decision to interpret “oppresses the poor” as “refuses to raise the minimum wage” is absurd. Christians should indeed help the poor, but raising the minimum wage arguably harms the poor.
Labor is valuable in an economy, and the price of labor adjusts to supply and demand. When a government artificially increases the minimum wage, it incentivizes businesses to do one of three things: require more of their lowest-wage workers in terms of qualifications and experience; cut workers or their hours; or automate their services to make workers less necessary. None of these options helps the least fortunate.
Entry-level workers need low-paying jobs to get a start in the economy. These jobs perform a vital service, and raising the minimum wage threatens to erase these jobs. But businesses are more likely to cut workers’ hours when the government tampers with wages.
After Seattle raised its minimum wage, the University of Washington found that the minimum wage law reduced the number of hours worked by 9.6 percent. Thanks to shortened shifts and lost jobs, the average low-wage worker ended up taking home $125 less each month.
When the news broke that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), like Buttigieg a presidential candidate, was not paying his campaign staff $15 per hour, despite standing for a $15 per hour minimum wage, his campaign responded by cutting employees’ hours. He proved critics of the minimum wage right — economic pressures from government-mandated artificially high pay actually harms workers on the low end of the spectrum.
Buttigieg is proudly in a same-sex “marriage.” How does he explain away Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, and Matthew 19:3? Jesus clearly defines marriage as between one man and one woman. If Buttigieg wants to berate conservative Christians as somehow false Christians, he needs to address this.
The South Bend mayor also engaged in attacks on conservative Christians in the last debate, suggesting that the “kids in cages” canard means Christians must oppose President Donald Trump on immigration. Hogwash.
Yet this minimum wage push is worse than hogwash. In the name of not oppressing the poor, Buttigieg pushes a policy that arguably oppresses the poor. What will he say to the workers who lose hours and money when a minimum wage pushes their employers to make cuts?
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.