Robert Reich attacks a straw man in a column that came out today. From the article:
"It’s often assumed that people are paid what they’re worth. According to this logic, minimum wage workers aren’t worth more than $7.25 an hour. If they were worth more, they’d earn more."
No one thinks people are paid what they are worth. I think people are worth more as human beings than $7.25/hr. But people are paid based on the value that they produce. This is very different than what Mr. Reich is saying. He is attacking the argument he wants to refute, not the argument actually made by people like me:
"The problem with mandating a living wage is that not every worker is capable of contributing $12, $15, or $20 worth of value per hour. Some of the really unskilled, inexperienced workers may be only able to contribute $6 worth of value, some only $8 or $10. If the legal minimum is $12 who is going to hire these workers? The answer is no one."
Mr. Reich goes on to lament the decline of unions, like he always does:
"The real difference is that the GM worker a half-century ago had a strong union behind him that summoned the collective bargaining power of all autoworkers to get a substantial share of company revenues for its members. Today’s Wal-Mart workers don’t have a union to negotiate a better deal. They’re on their own."
The U.S. economy today is largely a service economy, not a manufacturing economy. It is easy for unions to set uniform wages when all of the workers are doing jobs where the output is easily measured. In most service jobs that is not the case and so it makes sense that the best workers do not want to be held back by the poorest workers, which is exactly what happens when unions bargain for wages.
Contrary to what Mr. Reich thinks, many workers do not want unions taking their hard earned money. Here is a video from reasonTV showing farm workers in California suing to rid themselves of the union representing them.