Is The Real Reason Why People Won't Work Because Of Low Wages?
Updated: Aug 11, 2021
I usually try not to lead off with photos, I like to get into the topic before really steering the conversation towards the topic directly, but today's article was a direct result of me seeing two images on social media and feeling that they needed to be refuted. So I feel it is only fair to present the images for inspection before going farther.
These are the two images that caused me such a stomach ache this morning that I could not help but answer the call to point out the myriad of logical fallacies in them.
The first image above (the one to the left) is about as emotionally manipulative as it comes. It attempts to shame and guilt those who have worked hard to advance themselves into believing that those who have not are no different from them. That the jobs they worked hard to get away from are just as important as the ones that they worked so hard to achieve, and that they are horrible people for "looking down" on another job.
It strikes directly at the pride of a job well done and an advancement earned and attempts to belittle the effort, education, training, and dedication put in by the employee to get there. It is no different from those in a union being mad at the hard worker or those in a class being angry at the one who was studying for "throwing off the curve."
Oh yes, and it also creates a false narrative and a straw man argument. Not to mention it commits a direct False-Dilemma Fallacy.
No one is angry because people are getting better jobs. If they are getting better jobs that pay better, then great for them. People are upset because they are sitting at home doing nothing and being paid more than they were when they were working. This means that they are not even making a small income and being supplemented, but rather that they are getting a bigger income and are being fully supported by those who ARE WORKING.
Yet by the time all of the emotional manipulation is done, you walk away feeling like a horrible person because you do not think that a burger flipper should get a better job and not be available to cook your burgers. No one said that, it is a made up argument to tear up and paint the opponent as uncaring. It is an ultimate straw-man argument in every way.
The second image above (the one on the right) attempts to blame employers for the labor shortage saying that if they just paid their employees more that they would have all that they need. This is also false.
First, wages have inflated with the labor shortage. Even in a low cost of living state like Texas, Walmart, HEB (grocery store), and McDonalds are now paying between $14-16 per hour and they cannot find workers. Other companies have also increased their wages accordingly and are also hurting for employees. So perhaps pay is not the real reason.
This image also fails to address the bigger issue of the fact that people have been frightened into submission by all of these COVID lockdowns, mask mandates, "Death Counts" on the news, and the constant drum beat of "you're all gonna die." Why would people want to "risk their lives" even for $17 per hour?
Obviously they will not, because they have that opportunity right now and they are not taking it.
Yet this post brazenly commits an Argumentum ad misericordiam, or an argument to compassion fallacy and attempts to call it good. It wants you to stop looking deeper because you FEEL SORRY for people who are not making $17 per hour. In other words, turn off your brain and think with your heart.
No, sorry, brains are for thinking and hearts are for feeling. When you confuse the two, you often end up in VERY VERY BAD situations.
It also commits a hasty generalization fallacy when it shows a massive line for $17 per hour. It generalizes that anyone paying $17 per hour should have a full staff, yet I know from talking to a number of business owner friends of mine that this is not true because they are paying more than that and the problem is finding QUALIFIED employees capable of doing the job, and not just finding "employees." They get HUNDREDS of resumes, less than 10% of them are qualified to even be interviewed, let alone hired.
My business owning friends, who do not own simple franchises that pay minimum wage, are telling me that finding employees is not so hard, it is finding qualified employees who are willing to work that is hard. There is a big difference.
Just paying $17 an hour will not guarantee an employer that they will have enough qualified people to fill a staff, and if everyone else is getting $17 an hour, then their qualified employees are going to want $34 or more. Businesses will fail because they cannot afford to pay that, and the reason they cannot is because people will not accept the same wages and those who do not produce like they do. If you can produce double what a $7.25 employee, you will not work for less than $15 per hour or more.
If that same minimum wage employee is now making $17 per hour, then you had better believe that even entry level management is going to demand $25, let alone those ultra productive rare employees who will want at least double. People want what they are worth, and when you know you are worth more, then you demand more, end of story.
That is why union industries have such an impossible time keeping the upper tier of employees. Those who can do more will not live in the mediocrity that those around them attempt to sit comfortably in.
Yet these memes are being gobbled up by those on the left, and by impressionable young people, who are coming to believe that they are somehow oppressed because they are only paid what they have allowed themselves to be worth. How many plumber, electrician, and welding jobs are out there BEGGING for people to fill them? Those pay $25-60 per hour and yet people just want to stay where they are comfortable flipping burgers, stocking store shelves, ringing a register, or any number of other dime a dozen jobs.
But yeah, it is our fault for not appreciating their labor. That is the truth.
Except it is not.
If we magically made minimum wage $17 per hour tomorrow, then by the end of 2021, MAYBE the middle of 2022 that $17 per hour would be the functional equivalent of $7.25 per hour. If it was not so, then there would not ever be a reason to raise the minimum wage again. The wage equilibrium always resets. The market always assigns values to the skills and work of people according to the rarity of those skills.
It always has.
It always will.
So no, the reason why people are not returning to work is not that they cannot get $17 per hour, it is because they either do not want COVID, or they do not want to work when there is a less labor intensive and more fun option out there that will fully provide for them (e.g. unemployment). It really is as simple as that.