Living Wages Are Ethical And Good for Society - A Lesson in Humanistic Business Management

I talk politics with people a lot. Rationally and civilly and I realize this may make me an oddity. But if we don't rationally discuss public policy - our public policy won't be rational.

One of the discussions I have fairly regularly has to do with the purpose of a minimum wage.  Some people seem to think that this is an introductory wage. For teens entering the workforce. The minimum wage laws were actually enacted to make sure that no one who worked - would work for starvation wages and excessive hours. In other words, the minimum wage is to ensure that labor - is not exploited.

According to FDR - who helped get this law passed - the law freed industry from "dishonorable competition brought about not only by overworking and underpaying labor, but by destructive business practices."  -

He goes on to say that because of the minimum wage law - "business itself recognizes more clearly than at any previous time in our history the advantages and the obligations of cooperation and self-discipline, and the patriotic need of ending unsound financing and unfair practices of all kinds."

In other words, there are greedy bad people running businesses and those bad people exploit the laws. They cheat. Not only their business partners, but their employees. They cheat everyone. And this cheating, drives wages down and that hurts - everyone. Because if employees are living on starvation wages - they not only suffer, the country suffers as no one but the very wealthy can afford to consume. We have to continually protect our businesses against what FDR calls "incorrigible minorities."

Minimum wages and living wages are a necessary topic of conversation for people concerned about Humanistic Business Practices. And FDR's warnings are just as valid today as when he first shared them.

"We must continue to recognize that incorrigible minorities within an industry, or in the whole field of trade and industry, should not be allowed to write the rules of unfair play and compel all others to compete upon their low level. We must make certain that the privilege of cooperating to prevent unfair competition will not be transformed into a license to strangle fair competition under the apparent sanction of the law. Small enterprises especially should be given added protection against discrimination and oppression."

We should recognize people who request the right to oppress and exploit other people for what they are. Incorrigible Minorities.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Prof. Ben Teehankee on this topic a few weeks ago.  In the meantime, if you are in a position to fix people's wages - please do not exploit them to gain an unfair advantage. Ethical wages and good jobs  - benefits your company and our society and the race to the bottom is only promoted by people who incorrigible people. Let's not join them on their race to the bottom.

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