It’s true. You and I both know that on the face of things, it’s harder to get a job than ever (especially for young people). But is the answer to this problem one so simple as getting rid of the minimum wage? I think not. While I do agree with the author that many young people seek out jobs primarily for work experience and resume-buildup rather than for money, there is a large and increasing percentage of “youth” (which the U.S. Department of Labor defines as “16- to 24-year-olds”) who are working out of necessity, whether for survival, to pay tuition and student loans, or otherwise. Therefore, to “help the youth” we cannot simply help those of privilege (those who do have a parent’s basement to sleep in, if necessary). In fact, we should probably focus on helping the youth who, well, actually need helping – individuals who struggle in low-income positions in order to have the food, clothes, and shelter necessary to sustain their human existence.
The author makes the statement, “if someone is able and willing to work for less because money is not the primary reason for that person needing a job, we should not be prohibiting that.” While I agree with this statement in some sense, I think that internships and volunteer opportunities serve exactly the purpose referred to: lots of experience without the necessity of a high payout. The logic following the above quoted statement suggests an incentive (in the form of lower cost) for employers to hire younger, more-privileged workers rather than those who will rely on their earnings out of necessity. This is not only a question of economics and of law (as the author recognizes) but is more so one of ethics.
I do agree with one main point that “Help the youth…” expresses, though: abolishing minimum wage would definitely help employers. Trying to get labor “at a bargain price” follows the Golden Rule of capitalism: maximize profits and minimize spending. When thinking about this in the context of labor, some might say this mentality could lead to exploitation. But that wouldn’t be anything new in our country; this is why the Fair Labor Standards Act – the very act that still enforces a federal minimum wage – was passed in 1938. (If you want an example of how bad it was for workers prior to that point, just read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle.) But even since the act passed, the trend of American companies exploiting people for labor is still common – most of the victims are just overseas, where minimum wage laws aren’t so strict. Think about sweatshops, the outsourcing of labor to places like Indonesia and Malaysia, places where corporations can get the same work they’d have done in America for cents on the dollar. A minimum wage is still not enough to protect everyone but is a landmark of progress and crucial to human rights in any capitalist society. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather “put groceries in bags” for $7.25 an hour than work in a textile factory for a few dollars a day; ending the minimum wage would make the latter scenario scarily possible.