Saying ‘No’ to a Federal Minimum Wage

Posted: Jun 06, 2016 12:01 AM
Saying ‘No’ to a Federal Minimum Wage

Have you been listening to the presidential candidates and other pundits debate over the minimum wage? Amazing.

Donald Trump has it right—the minimum wage needs to be set by the states, not the federal government. Some time ago, after the minimum wage increased in California, I wrote an article expressing my amazement that nothing had been learned from what happened to the state of Washington, where the minimum wage climbed higher and higher. It wasn’t a pretty picture. In the same article, I predicted that fast-food restaurants and other industries would soon be using more automation to eliminate jobs—and that began happening almost immediately.

Trump is the only one running for president who has ever had to deal with making a payroll. Actually, he is probably one of very few in Washington, D.C., who has. He is the only candidate who understands business. I am sure Hillary Clinton will try to attack his failures. As an entrepreneur who has started many businesses over the past 40 years, I can tell you from experience that anyone doing anything will fail in some things. I often say that I have learned far more from the failures in my businesses than I will ever learn from my successes.

We need someone in Washington who understands what it takes to be successful—someone who can learn from past failures. We don’t need politicians like Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, who both claim that today’s minimum wage is not sufficient for anyone to live on. Unfortunately, they are missing one key component. The minimum wage was never designed for anyone to raise a family or to live on. It was designed as a stepping stone—an entry place into the workforce to help young people hone their skills and then find opportunities to move up. The Obama Administration, however, has removed any opportunity for people to move up to the middle class because it’s been annihilated. So now Obama—and the Democratic candidates—see an increase in the minimum wage as the only way to replace that opportunity.

This economically inept ideology that has permeated Washington is front and center on the Democratic side of the presidential race. These candidates must be banking on most of the American people being as ignorant now as they were in 2008. A federal minimum wage will never help the economy. It will never create more and better jobs—in fact, it will do just the opposite. (The state of Washington learned that the hard way.) And how can the federal government set one minimum wage level that will work in every state? A minimum wage that a worker needs in the rural communities of South Carolina would not be sufficient for an employee in New York City where the cost of living is much higher.

It’s bad enough that we have economically inept politicians debating the minimum wage, but let’s at least keep it to the economically inept politicians of state governments.

(Dan Celia is President and CEO of Financial Issues Stewardship Ministries, Inc., and host of the national syndicated radio talk program “Financial Issues,” heard daily on more than 600 stations across the country. To learn more, visit