Opinion: Abolish the national minimum wage

Going local makes more business sense

Want a good argument for abolishing the national minimum wage? Just watch an episode of “House Hunters.”

The 30-minute show, which airs just about every minute on HGTV, usually features a couple who are moving from one place to another and are looking for somewhere to live – either to buy or rent. A smiling, helpful and infinitely patient real estate agent shows them three places and then, after much deliberation and bickering, they must choose.

My wife and I love watching the show. We love commenting on the homes. And we particularly love making fun of the people. We say things like: “Really? They’re not choosing that house because they don’t like the carpet? Just replace the carpet for God’s sake! What losers!” or “They’re going to pass up on that property just because it’s a little over budget? What losers!” This observation comes from two people watching their tenth consecutive episode of House Hunters on a Saturday night.

Which, naturally, brings me to the minimum wage.

Local = Relevant

On “House Hunters,” you can spend $1 million and purchase a toilet in New York City. Or you can take that same $1 million and live like royalty if you want to settle down in the suburbs of San Antonio. The people looking for homes are different people, with different jobs, different finances and different lifestyles — depending on where in the country they are.

If there’s one takeaway from watching umpteen episodes of “House Hunters,” it’s that this country is enormous, disparate, huge and varied. So when it comes to something like the minimum wage, how can the federal government determine what’s best for the entire population? $10 an hour might be OK in San Antonio, but it isn’t going to go very far in San Francisco.

Some states have higher speed limits than others. Some allow the use of recreational marijuana. In Florida, it’s against the law to sell your children (a reason why we live in Pennsylvania, where there are more options). In New York it’s illegal to take a selfie with a tiger. No, I am not joking.

Some matters are best left to local communities to decide.

If a local community deems it necessary to have an actual law that bans their citizens from selling their children or taking selfies with wild animals, so be it. And if a local community chooses to have a minimum wage that’s different from the rest of the country, why not? Already, there are dozens of cities across the country setting their own minimum wage. They know their markets.They know their environment. They’re the best ones to make that decision, too.

Empower small businesses

Let’s give local small businesses a chance to weigh in more heavily on an issue that could have a significant impact on their cash flow.

There’s no question that the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour is not going to provide a worker a very good lifestyle, no matter where in America he or she lives. But instead of debating the matter in Washington, D.C., the best solution is to abolish the national minimum wage all together and instead require the states to establish their own minimum wage.

Instead of one federal minimum, we have 50 minimums. That takes the issue down to the local level. It makes it more relevant. It allows the people who know the economy in their own backyard to choose what rate would be best. It gives the states more flexibility. And, more importantly, it gives local small businesses – the merchants and shopkeepers and others who are affected the most — the opportunity to weigh in more heavily on an issue that could have a significant impact on their cash flow.

As a business owner I say abolish the federal minimum wage. Make it a state thing. And please, when travelling through the state of New York, take care not to pose for a selfie with a tiger. You’ve been warned.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of GoDaddy.

Gene Marks
Gene Marks writes a daily column for the Washington Post on business and public policy. He also writes weekly for Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, Inc. Magazine, and periodically for The Huffington Post and Foxbusiness.com. Gene also regularly appears on Fox News, MSNBC, Sirius XM Radio and ABC radio. His work reaches hundreds of thousands of business owners and executives each week. Gene is a Certified Public Accountant and runs the Marks Group PC - a 10-person technology and management consulting firm located near Philadelphia. He spent nine years with the international firm KPMG, most recently as Senior Manager. Gene speaks frequently to business groups so they can better understand the trends affecting their businesses and - most importantly - the actions they should take to continue to grow and profit. http://www.genemarks.com/