“It is utterly embarrassing that “pay people enough to live” is a stance that’s even up for debate,” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently tweeted. “Override the parliamentarian and raise the wage. McD’s workers in Denmark are paid $22/hr + 6 wks paid vacation. $15/hr is a deep compromise — a big one, considering the phase in.”
The most obvious problem with Ocasio-Cortez’s contention is that Denmark, like other Scandinavian nations, doesn’t have a statutory minimum wage. Industries and workers engage in sector-by-sector salary negotiations, which might well undermine intra-industry competition, but which is a much better idea than the flat national-wage floor being peddled by Democrats. So, this popular progressive talking point about Denmark’s miracle middle-class fast-food worker doesn’t make much sense to begin with.
Especially when one considers that the per-capita income in the United States is virtually the same as in Denmark — quite a feat given that we’re a pluralistic nation of around 330 million people that naturalizes another 900,000 people every year, many from poor nations, and that Denmark is a homogeneous country of fewer than 6 million citizens that, in recent years, has effectively shut down its borders to poor immigrants.
Denmark’s generous welfare state is propped up by shared social and cultural norms, and institutions that are habitually reviled by American progressives: unimpeded international trade, low regulatory burdens on business, and sometimes oil and gas checks — Denmark and Norway are Western Europe’s largest oil and gas producers.
Then there is the matter of what exactly $45,000 — the salary an employee making $22 an hour on a full-time basis would earn — means in each country. Denmark can afford its system because high taxes are paid by all its citizens, not just the wealthy. Not only do Danish fast-food employees making $45,000 hand over around half their earnings to the government, they pay a 25% value-added tax on most purchases, as well as a number of other levies. In return, Danes are afforded all kinds of government-provided services. Presumably, Ocasio-Cortez approves of this arrangement. Either way, Americans whose eyes light up at the prospect of making $22 per hour should know that nearly $11 of that goes straight to the state.
Further, how much does a hamburger cost in Denmark? Spoiler: Considerably more. If the federal government forced fast-food chains to start paying employees $22 per hour, and giving them six weeks paid vacation, and health care, and all the other goodies that progressive want to compel companies to offer, American consumers should be prepared to pay more for food or to be served by robots. The last time there was a push for a $15 minimum wage, in 2015-2016, McDonald’s quickly rolled out a touchscreen self-service kiosk makeover. Since then, that technology has only gotten better — and cheaper. Big chains like to offer up rhetoric that pleases the activist left, but in the end, they are not charities but businesses with stakeholders. And profits matter.
Now, I understand that socialists would be happy creating a permanent proletariat that is reliant on government to fix their wages and dictate all benefits. And, certainly, there is nothing demeaning about taking a job at a fast-food restaurant. For many young people, it’s a temporary stop where they can take on responsibility for the first time and earn some money. For others, who need these jobs, it offers flexible hours and part-time work. Most people do not make careers out of working at Wendy’s. Fast-food chains have massive employee turnover rates. Some experience a 100% turnover every year.
The other day, Ocasio-Cortez argued that, “when we keep the minimum wage artificially low, it’s at a huge cost to our government … they’re essentially enormous subsidies to Walmart.” The notion that Ocasio-Cortez is apprehensive about government subsidies is, of course, risible. But she’s also wrong. Walmart, which revolutionized shopping by offering millions of low-income Americans affordable goods (progressives never mention that part of the equation), recently increased its internal minimum wage to $13-$19 per hour for most workers, while Amazon, Target and Costco have raised their minimum wages to $15 per hour. Is this a good idea? We’ll see. As Thomas Sowell once pithily noted, all public policy is about tradeoffs. The increases will help some workers, no doubt. But they will also cost jobs, either by leading to less overall hiring or by forcing consumers to pay “artificially” high prices, rather than spending the difference elsewhere.
Ocasio-Cortez’s rhetoric implies that there is something artificial about a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour but nothing artificial about a minimum wage of $15. This is ridiculous. The only nonartificial minimum wage is zero — which, incidentally, is what the 1.4 million people the CBO says would lose work due to a $15 national minimum wage will be making if AOC’s side of the argument wins.
David Harsanyi is a senior writer at National Review and the author of the book “First Freedom: A Ride Through America’s Enduring History With the Gun.” To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
Costco has just installed quick check out lanes at my local Costco in Michigan. There go some cashier jobs. Secondly, if one wants to improve themselves job wise, why would anyone want to flip hamburgers at McDonalds, the rest of their lives. These minimum wage jobs should be stepping stones to higher paying jobs. Ocasio Cortez is a total airhead.
Most of those i know who got jobs i fast food, did it for a few years, JUST TO EARN a living, then moved on. NO ONE sees it as a career, unless they’re going to try and own their own franchise.
Do not believe she is intelligent enough to be qualified as stupid.
A bacterium has more intelligence than occasional cortex.
AND more morals!
I would be satisfied with just paying the people enough to keep their idle hands out of the Devil’s workshop. These social engineers just want people to be paid enough so they can be taxed enough with just enough left to live on so they can live another day,,,to pay. Remove the social engineering and the butinsky social engineers, and there will be plenty enough left for all.
If McD’s workers here in the U.S. think they should be paid $22/hr with 6 weeks paid vacation every year, maybe they should move to Denmark.
What people don’t realize is that you just can’t move to these other countries. We visited Northern France back in the early ’90’s and stayed in a B&B and mentioned to our hosts that this would be a lovely place to move to. They immediately got very stern looks on this faces, and scolded us, telling us that as Americans, we were always welcome to visit, but we just couldn’t move here; we weren’t welcome to live here without meeting all sorts of requirements. They said all of Europe was like that; every country had very strict rules about people just coming and moving in. I don’t know how accurate that was then (or now) but it makes sense.
You need to have enough money to live on for 2 years and you need to have at the minimum a work visa and a bunch of other things.
WHY can’t we require the SAME of folks wishing to move HERE???
Denmark’s immigration system is designed to KEEP THEM OUT!
Maybe they should learn how to make change first.
Don’t ever hand them $10. bill and a quarter for a $4.20 bill ——- stand back and watch the expressions on their face and sometimes the manager too.
IF a MC D’s worker had 22/hr min wage, a burger would cost 8 bucks, fries 4, and a meal deal would be 11 bucks..
Take AOC with them.
What is never mentioned in these $15 hr discussions is what of the people who worked and toiled to reach the $15 and would now find themselves at minimum wage. Can they then demand doubling their pay?. Unions have their pay scales based on what is minimum wage. Eliminating a minimum wage would certainly lower prices of all American based products and services .
Not to mention put how many out of work, and how many businesses will be forced to lay peop.e off as well as raise the prices of everything we use. That would devastate the economy or what’s left of it.
I’ve had those sorts of discussions with folks, and often their answer is “Sure, why not”./
I think all minimum wage for high school drop out burger flippers should be the same as that of democrat congresswomen whose title is an alphabet. Then pump up the wages of all other legitimate earners by at least a factor of ten. The nonskilled labor will get their boost in apparent salary, but will still be outpriced in the cost of living thanks to the predictable result of rampant inflation. Seems the ignorant don’t get it.
How about raising my Social Security? And stop taxing my “benefits”? $15 an hour times 2080 hours is $31, 200 a year. Sounds good to me. And I can make change when the power goes out.
Where is takes at least $15.00 per hour to survive, businesses are already paying and more for the starting wage. $15.00 minimum wage won’t make one bit of difference to those people. Then there’s parts of the country that have a much lower cost of living and $15.00 might be considered mid range pay in those areas. That’s where the machines will be used to replace workers or some will get laid off then the workers that are kept will be worked half to death to get everything done. Then there’s the other businesses who will close the doors and more people will be unemployed. AOC is just one stupid worthless bugged eyed donkey face bag of raw sewage.
Talk about taxation. Just got done doing my tax return for this year. AND i find it Shanked up, that I as a retiree, PAY MORE for my tax preps (due to having both interest/dividends from annuities and mutuals, and rental income), Due to having to file it with a 1099=R, vice having a W2 as if i was still working.. 139$ vs 59$.. So someone WORKING, who thus EARNS more, pays LESS for filing, than a retiree does.
How buggered up is that?!
89 Mcdonalds in Denmark… $5.80 for a hamburger. If $15.00 min. wage will fix everything… then why not $50.00 …. then everything will be outstanding! Once again… the middle class will take in the keester… because to pay for it… the middle class WILL NOT see a pay increase for decades … and the cost of every single thing will sky rocket… then the outright inflation will devalue the already sickly dollar. If AOC had 3/4 of brain… she’d be a 1/2 wit.
In the 2022 Mid-Term Elections the Republicans should run a Box of Rocks against the economic nitwit Absolutely Obtuse Cortez (AOC)! The GOP would probably win the election, if the rocks were kept in a basement during the campaign!
Doubt it. With the sheer DUNCERY IN the voter base in NY, and the fraud machine in place, the dems have, i doubt any republican could even get 24% of the vote up there.
Not a single one has asked, if we raise the minimum wage, how many will get off welfare and food stamps ???how many will start paying taxes ???? None. !!!
How much money do you think a store makes in profit for a can of beans ??? It’s can cost 89 cents ?? Very little. So be prepared to pay double maybe even Triple and double digits Inflation .
JOHN, the dems have NEVER EVER ACTUALLY WANTED to get folk off of welfare.. IF THEY DID they would lose a good chunk of their voter base.
If Denmark is so great, maybe AOC should move to Denmark!
Minimum wage jobs are entry-level jobs. As a person gains skills the idea is they will find a better paying job and take it. That allows someone else who wants to enter the work force to be hired to fill the vacancy they created when they took the better paying job. Maybe the schools need to teach a basic course on personal finances and AOC should take it.
AND stay there!!
I am sure, plenty of folk will help her pack!