I’m always amused when I hear people talk about the plight of the low-wage worker. I spent the better part of a decade busing, washing dishes, and waiting tables.

Yeah, it was rough. Yeah, it was hard to make ends meet. Did I like the jobs? Of course not. I hated them. But they kept the heat on and put food in the refrigerator. It took budgeting discipline and extreme frugality, but it was manageable.

Would I have preferred higher wages? Of course.

But you know what I hated most about those low-wage food service jobs? I hated knowing that no matter how hard I worked, no matter how good I became at my job, there was little chance that I’d be paid more than the day I was hired.

Luckily, I also knew my job was a steppingstone to something better. It wasn’t a vocation. I got out. But there are some who think they’re doomed to a life of low-wage labor and that raising minimum wage rates will solve their problems.

I don’t think the answer lies in tinkering with minimum wage laws. In fact, I believe those laws are doing more harm than good:

Instead, how about we throw out those laws and let employers and their employees engage in wage negotiations?

Let employees market their skills and labor.

Most employees will work harder if there is promise of greater pay and most employers will pay premiums for seasoned labor. It’s a win-win scenario.

A situation where harder work is not and cannot be rewarded – well, that’s pretty miserable, isn’t it?

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