Mary, I understand everything you’re saying. It’s completely normal to feel that you’re overpaying for many employees, but when employers pay less than a living wage they just pass the costs of those poor-quality employees onto the taxpayers in the form of food stamps, Medicaid, etc.

If every employer pays all employees, even poor-quality employees, a living wage the size and cost of government goes down and people are required to work. And,yes, every employer will need to bake that increased labor cost into the cost for their products.

In a sense of looking at society as a whole, a company whose products can’t be sold for enough to pay a living wage and stay in business probably shouldn’t be selling that product via a government subsidy in the form of taxpayers picking up the additional cost for their employees any more than companies shouldn’t be selling products below cost and breaking even with a government subsidy.

We could have a long discussion on the massive failures of the elementary school system.

Do we teach kids the basics of how the world works — banks, insurance, saving vs. spending, etc.? I don’t think so.

Do we teach kids the basic lessons of how you solve problems? No.

Do we teach kids some basic rules for how to run their lives to avoid problems — don’t ignore problems, speak up, be honest, etc.? No.

Do we tell kids the real reason why they’re studying things that they think they will never “need” in their lives? No.

I think we need to separate solving the welfare/living-wage problem from solving the bad employees problem and not let one cross-contaminate the other. Then we just have two problems instead or one or zero problems.

Thanks for you thoughtful comment.

Graduate of Stanford University & U.C. Berkeley Law School. Author of 17 novels and over 200 Medium columns on Economics, Politics, Law, Humor & Satire.

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