PART 3: Government-Mandated Wage Hike Won't Solve the Problem

Indiana equipment dealer says government-mandated wage hikes would take competitive advantage away from companies already providing higher-than-average wages.

In response to You Get What You Pay For, which takes the position that raising the minimum wage is necessary and would help good businesses in the Green Industry.

Yes, Dan, win/win is possible — in a free market where individuals can agree on prices and wages between themselves, with no one using the force of law to mandate price and wage floors. But when government mandates things like minimum wages, the game changes. I'll just say briefly, without laying out my political/economic ideology, that government involvement in business and economic matters historically has created lose/lose scenarios, in my opinion.

However, I don't think editor Gregg Wartgow was trying to argue for low wages or against a minimum wage in the Green Industry (see his column). What he was primarily doing is warning us of what probably will happen, which is government-mandated wage increases, and how we're going to handle the consequences, both intended and unintended. If we're not prepared for what's coming, we'll fail. Gregg hasn't gone political on us; he's just giving us the forecast.

While you seem to claim that a higher minimum wage will attract better employees, I maintain such a measure will be hard on businesses, even forcing some to close operations when they're unable to recover the increased labor costs. How can an increase in wages attract better employees when it's mandated by the government? If the minimum wage becomes such that I have to start paying my mowing crews $15/hour instead of the $12/hour I had been paying them, will I get more dedicated employees? This only gives me a competitive edge in the market if my competitors are still paying $12/hour. But because this would be a mandate by the government, my competitors also must pay $15/hour. So there's no incentive for the better, more dedicated workers to come work for me, because they can make just as much money somewhere else. Voluntarily increasing your workers' pay over that of your competitors really can allow your company to offer a superior product or service, because you will attract the best employees. But the key word is voluntarily.

And since living costs will inevitably go up with an increase in minimum wage (how will it not, with businesses everywhere having to increase prices to recover the extra labor costs?), how will this development relieve people of having to work multiple jobs, thus enabling them to really pour their best efforts into a single company rather than being all strung out? They'll still have to work more than one job.

So yes, win/win is possible but I don’t think it can happen with the method you’re advocating in your response to Gregg’s article. We need fewer government mandates, not more. I really would prefer not to be political in a Green Industry Pros comment section, but it’s hard to avoid political elements in most discussions when the government insists on having something to say to nearly every area of our lives.

Sam Stearns, Mr. Mower Man in Scottsburg, IN