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Minas Tirith Forums » The Prancing Pony » Minimum Wage Laws (Page 1)
Author Topic: Minimum Wage Laws
Grimwulf Stormspear
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Should the legal “minimum wage” be raised? [] Should we even have a legal “minimum wage”? [] What are the consequences of these laws? []
From: The central lake-lands of the Great Peninsula. | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Imbëar
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I like the idea of a minimum wage, as it certainly seems to help keep classes of people from being exploited (like youngsters and illegal aliens).

I also like the idea of a single age of consent - which I also feel helps keep classes of people from being exploited.


Imbëar

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Artaresto
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I don't have much political insight, but I believe minimum wages are a good thing. [] @ Imbëar.
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Matt The Courageous
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Minimum wage laws are a good thing. If employers thought they could get away with sub-wages they would. However, Minimum wage is increasing where I live far faster than my own wages. It seems that the difference between a journeyman or highly skilled laborer simply keeps taking it in the a**. I used to pay my journeyman four times minimum wage. Now they don't even get three times what minimum wage is. It's sick. Minimum wage laws out of control. However, I realize that it's not that way every where. But in my state it is. They keep taking it away from the experienced workers because they have too, just in order to be able to hire people at entry level work. []
But I do think that there should be a minimum wage. It's the right thing to do for everyone.

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"Long may truth prevail."
"Peace to the faithful."
"Fear no darkness!"
"Fight the good fight!"
"for even a fool if he is silent, men will think him wise"
Anger is easy, forgiveness is hard.

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Talan
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quote:
Should the legal “minimum wage” be raised?
Perhaps. In an ideal world, the minimum wage of an individual would be regulated in such a way as to match or exceed the cost of living for that individual. Anyone who works should be supplied a living wage.

quote:
Should we even have a legal “minimum wage”?
Yes. To avoid the concept of a minimum wage is to leave people vulnerable to exploitation. Corporations, while not always corrupt, are capable of exhibiting horrific corruption. While the government is capable of the same, and should not be given free reign in all areas of the economic and business world, some concepts, such as that of the minimum wage, provide a check against slavery-like conditions. As human beings and persons of any compassion, we cannot allow a return to completely unregulated capitalism. Being a human phenomenon, capitalism must serve a purpose beyond the perpetuation of its own existence. The most basic well-being of workers must be maintained--they must be allowed to live, and live in such a way that they need not be subject to constant hunger and suffering.

quote:
What are the consequences of these laws?
In a world where these ideals are not entirely common, the consequences are many. But they are worthwhile. Somewhere on the other side of the planet, a 7-year-old child is sewing Nikes twelve hours a day for less than it takes to feed himself, much less his family. We cannot subject our people to this. It contradicts everything that America stands for, and lowers us to the level of everything we claim to oppose. Unfortunately, the ideal I mentioned above, of matching minimum wage to living costs, is impossible in America's contentious political environment. Therefore, the only responsible and morally acceptable course of action is to choose whichever option is both politically viable and monetarily sufficient for the lower class. This means a higher minimum wage across the board. To achieve the ideal I mentioned above is impossible in this political climate, and to deny any other solution will lead only to suffering for the lower class.

If you disagree, Grimwulf, please elaborate.

[ 04-10-2007, 01:02 AM: Message edited by: Talan ]

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Roll of Honor Adulithien
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quote:
Minimum wage laws are a good thing. If employers thought they could get away with sub-wages they would.
And how! Several states still have special laws for tip-earners like bartenders and waitstaff... my state being one of them... and it's legal to pay $2.13/hr in that industry only. Technically, if tips fail to make up the minimu wage, the employer is responsible for making up the difference, but that's assuming that you have the energy or presence of mind to keep track of it yourself after working 5 days worth of double shifts in a row. Happy Easter, Kabuki Romanza! []
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Roll of Honor Freya
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In the UK we introduced a minimum wage in 1999 at a fairly high level which is now £5.52 (around $10). Before it was introduced there were huge concerns and a lot of noise from business who said it would cost millions of jobs. It actually hasn't made a single bit of difference to jobs and unemployment has remained around the lowest in the Eurozone at 5%.

As someone who is usually fairly economically liberal I was one of the ones concerned about the minimum wage and its effects on jobs and profits but I was proved wrong and a lot of people on very low incomes have a less difficult time as a result of minimum wage legislation.

I'm pretty sure Grimwolf will disagree with me but I think this is a great example of how certain restrictions on business to limit the harsher consequences of capitalism are a good thing for society []

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Roll of Honor Gna
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UK question for Freya, regarding salaries:

When I lived and worked in London, the students, other postdocs, and technicians in the lab (salaries funded by various UK biomedical research programs/grants) received a "London allowance" on top of the standard salary for a given position. (I did not receive a London allowance btw, because I brought my own research fellowship salary money from the US). My question is...do employees who live and work in London, outside of a university setting, typically receive a London allowance?

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Roll of Honor Athene
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I appreciate that question wasn't addressed to me, but I know that when I am pricing works in London I have to put the labour charges up because our sub-contractors will receive London rates; typically 9-10% higher than elsewhere.

If I worked for a London-based landscaping company my salary would certainly be weighted accordingly. []

E: I don't think the minimum wage is London-weighted though, is it? Does anyone know? []

[ 04-10-2007, 10:44 AM: Message edited by: Athene ]

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Roll of Honor Freya
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All public employess receive "weighting" as we call it, on two levels: inner London weighting (the most increase) and outer London weighting (the smaller increase) to reflect the higher costs of living. Weighting can add up to 20% to an individual's salary. A lot of businesses and other organisations also pay London weighting, and generally most professional private-sector salaries are a lot higher.

This really is necessary as the cost of living here is astronomical. I think London just overtook Tokyo as the most expensive city in the world []

E: Athene, no the minimum wage isn't weighted, it's a national rate, but the mayor here Ken Livingstone launched the campaign for a working London wage of £7.20/hour. The campaign, being voluntary, has been very successful with blue chip companies looking for publicity but not yet where it's really needed: catering and cleaning outsource companies.

[ 04-10-2007, 11:04 AM: Message edited by: Freya ]

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Roll of Honor Lillianna
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Oh Freya, yeah I figured London had moved up to that position. And your damned money is so darn powerful against all the others! Wrath!
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Artaresto
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And Oslo is one of the three most expensive cities as well.

Fortunately, I don't live there []

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Grimwulf Stormspear
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Oh my…


Talan writes:
●●●●● In a world where these ideals are not entirely common, the consequences are many. But they are worthwhile. Somewhere on the other side of the planet, a 7-year-old child is sewing Nikes twelve hours a day for less than it takes to feed himself, much less his family. We cannot subject our people to this. It contradicts everything that America stands for, and lowers us to the level of everything we claim to oppose. Unfortunately, the ideal I mentioned above, of matching minimum wage to living costs, is impossible in America's contentious political environment. Therefore, the only responsible and morally acceptable course of action is to choose whichever option is both politically viable and monetarily sufficient for the lower class. This means a higher minimum wage across the board. To achieve the ideal I mentioned above is impossible in this political climate, and to deny any other solution will lead only to suffering for the lower class.

If you disagree, Grimwulf, please elaborate. ●●●●●

 -

In economics, “minimum wage” laws are a form of wage & price controls called a “wage floor.” [] A “wage floor,” as we shall see, is a more accurate term than “minimum wage” legislation.

The graph above illustrates a basic labor market responding to the imposition of a wage floor. Prior to the imposition of the wage floor, L* workers are employed at w* wages. Following the imposition of the wage floor, wages rise to the new wage floor. Additional workers are lured into the labor market by the higher wages, raising the size of the work force to L(S). More importantly, the number of jobs offered by employers shrinks to L(D). The result is that low-wage workers make more money — if they have jobs — but are less likely to find work.

In reply, it is often commented that overall unemployment rates do not seem to correspond increases in the wage floor. This reply is insignificant. The wage floor has no employment effect on high-income workers like lawyers, policy analysts, Congressional staffers, or editors of major newspapers. If we look at the actual effects on the sector directly affected, however, the impact is nontrivial. The wage floor contributes significantly to the unemployment of low-skilled workers, especially blacks & Hispanics in their teens & twenties. Within those demographic groups, the wage floor in the US is the single largest cause of unemployment.

The most important study on the disemployment effects of the wage floor is “Unemployment Effects of Minimum Wages,” in Journal of Political Economy, vol. 84 (August): S87-S104 by Jacob Mincer, 1976. Mincer has a reputation as the most careful empirical economist to pursue research in labor economics. His research found a significant reduction in job opportunities among young whites & especially among young blacks.

Numerous other studies confirm these findings. []

Any thoughts? []

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Furthermore, it is my opinion that Obamacare must be repealed.

From: The central lake-lands of the Great Peninsula. | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor Freya
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Grimwolf I would have laid money on you giving that kind of reply. I would have placed a bet, even though the hypothesis of diminishing utility reveals the futility of equal loss/win betting. I mention this because the hypothesis of diminishing utility, like other obscure microeconomic theories, fails when it comes to describing macro level problems and macro level solutions.

quote:
More importantly, the number of jobs offered by employers shrinks to L(D). The result is that low-wage workers make more money — if they have jobs — but are less likely to find work.

In reply, it is often commented that overall unemployment rates do not seem to correspond increases in the wage floor.

There's no "seem" about it (here in the UK anyway): there was no increase in unemployment following the introduction of the "wage-floor"; business funded the increase through reduced profits or passing the costs on to their consumers, NOT through sacking workers, despite the predictions of high-school econometric wage theories.


quote:
it is often commented that overall unemployment rates do not seem to correspond increases in the wage floor
quote:
This reply is insignificant. The wage floor has no employment effect on high-income workers like lawyers, policy analysts, Congressional staffers, or editors of major newspapers. If we look at the actual effects on the sector directly affected, however, the impact is nontrivial. The wage floor contributes significantly to the unemployment of low-skilled workers, especially blacks & Hispanics in their teens & twenties. Within those demographic groups, the wage floor in the US is the single largest cause of unemployment.
So absolute employment levels remain constant, but sector-specific levels fall? That can't logically be the case - unless employment increases in other sectors. And if that happens....well that's the market for ya []
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Grimwulf Stormspear
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Here comes the Peanut Gallery… []


Freya writes:
●●●●● Grimwulf, I would have laid money on you giving that kind of reply. I would have placed a bet, even though the hypothesis of diminishing utility reveals the futility of equal loss/win betting. I mention this because the hypothesis of diminishing utility, like other obscure microeconomic theories, fails when it comes to describing macro level problems and macro level solutions. ●●●●●

Not if used correctly, which does not seem to be your strong point. You seem to be using several terms incorrectly (from an economic perspective): “macroeconomic,” “microeconomic,” “problems,” “solutions.”

You also seem to be using the word “obscure” in an unusual way, if you are applying it to the analysis at hand. The disemployment effects of unemployment are one of the best known, most straightforward, most basic results of economic analysis. If one cannot grasp this concept, then one does not deserve to pass any class in economics. Home economics, perhaps, but not economics.

The evidence supporting this finding is actually quite substantial, a fact that must have escaped your attention.


Grimwulf wrote:
●●●●● More importantly, the number of jobs offered by employers shrinks to L(D). The result is that low-wage workers make more money — if they have jobs — but are less likely to find work.

In reply, it is often commented that overall unemployment rates do not seem to correspond increases in the wage floor. ●●●●●

Freya replies:
●●●●● There’s no “seem” about it (here in the UK anyway): there was no increase in unemployment following the introduction of the “wage-floor”; business funded the increase through reduced profits or passing the costs on to their consumers, not through sacking workers, despite the predictions of high-school econometric [sic] wage theories. ●●●●●

High school or grad school, the theory still predicts an increase in the unemployment of low-skilled workers ceteris paribus. And the econometric analysis supports the theory, unless you restrict yourself to an inappropriate data set & a sample size of one.

There are numerous problems with your explanation — apart from failing to address the relevant data. First, businesses would not be able to “pass along” costs without impacting sales. As a simple analysis would show, they would only be able to pass along a portion of the costs determined by elasticities of supply & demand.

Second, businesses with borderline profits cannot afford to “reduce profits” — actually, incur costs — & continue to stay in business for any length of time. (Unless they’re laundering money for the Mafia. Not that I would know anything about that kind of thing.) And then their workers will be out of work, with ever being sacked.

Third, voluntary reduction in a firm’s employment low-skilled workers may take place through a hiring freeze, rather than an increase in firings, especially in occupations with high turnover rates.

Fourth, additional long-run reductions in job opportunities may result from capital decision such as (1) replacing or reducing employment through labor-saving technology or (2) relocating existing or planned work-sites.

As it happens, two left-of-center economists have examined the impact of the adoption of the wage floor in the U.K on care homes workers. They reluctantly found “some evidence of employment and hours reductions after the minimum wage introduction.”


Grimwulf writes:
●●●●● In reply, it is often commented that overall unemployment rates do not seem to correspond increases in the wage floor… This reply is insignificant. The wage floor has no employment effect on high-income workers like lawyers, policy analysts, Congressional staffers, or editors of major newspapers. If we look at the actual effects on the sector directly affected, however, the impact is nontrivial. The wage floor contributes significantly to the unemployment of low-skilled workers, especially blacks & Hispanics in their teens & twenties. Within those demographic groups, the wage floor in the US is the single largest cause of unemployment. ●●●●●

Freya replies:
●●●●● So absolute employment levels remain constant, but sector-specific levels fall? That can’t logically be the case — unless employment increases in other sectors. And if that happens ... well that’s the market for ya. ●●●●●

Had this remark been a question rather than a snark, it might have struck me as intelligent. Nevertheless, I shall clarify…

Overall levels of employment fluctuate, as they usually do, and the size of the fluctuation is relatively large compared to changes in minimum wage employment. Here is the U.S., minimum wage workers account for less than 3% of hourly employees, which is less than 2% of workers paid wages & salaries. If you went out & fired 10% of them overnight, that’s an increase in the unemployment rate of about 0.2%, small enough to be swamped by unrelated employment growth in the other 98% of the economy. Since political pressure for raising the wage floor is probably highest in years when employment is rising, it is not surprising that the impact of increases in the wage floor on overall levels of employment would be swamped out by the rest of the economy.


The wage floor reduces low-skilled employment. [] Those job losses may or may not be an acceptable cost of raising wages, but they are very real.

[ 04-10-2007, 05:08 PM: Message edited by: Grimwulf Stormspear ]

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Furthermore, it is my opinion that Obamacare must be repealed.

From: The central lake-lands of the Great Peninsula. | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor Freya
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quote:
Not if used correctly, which does not seem to be your strong point. You seem to be using several terms incorrectly (from an economic perspective): “macroeconomic,” “microeconomic,” “problems,” “solutions.”

I think we've reached new levels if condescension when someone accuses me of not knowing what "problems" and "solutions" mean. I know that's information my employers would be interested in. And definitions for microeconomic and macroeconomic are taught to 14 year-olds here; jargon ceases to be intimidating when 90% of the population understand it, unfortunately for you Grimwolf

quote:
First, businesses would not be able to “pass along” costs without impacting sales. As a simple analysis would show, they would only be able to pass along a portion of the costs determined by elasticises of supply & demand.

Whilst the theory here is sound, again it's too limited to be of any use to us in the real world. Evidently, demand has been elastic enough to avoid the consequences you predicted.

quote:
businesses with borderline profits cannot afford to “reduce profits” — actually, incur costs — & continue to stay in business for any length of time. (Unless they’re laundering money for the Mafia. Not that I would know anything about that kind of thing.) And then their workers will be out of work, with ever being sacked.


C'mon Grim you can do better than this. What happens to the customers of the firm that's gone bust? Does that demand disappear or do they go to a more efficient firm?

quote:
Third, voluntary reduction in a firm’s employment low-skilled workers may take place through a hiring freeze, rather than an increase in firings, especially in occupations with high turnover rates.
Accepted

quote:
Fourth, additional long-run reductions in job opportunities may result from capital decision such as (1) replacing or reducing employment through labor-saving technology or (2) relocating existing or planned work-sites.
So the fact that we develop labour saving technology means we don't have a minimum wage? Gimme a break

quote:
As it happens, two left-of-center economists have examined the impact of the adoption of the wage floor in the U.K on care homes workers. They reluctantly found “some evidence of employment and hours reductions after the minimum wage introduction.”

1. This is irrelevant (except to the few care-home workers) IF TOTAL UNEMPLOYMENT ISN'T INCREASING
2. Any links to these studies or the names of the researchers? Meet them for dinner perhaps?

quote:
Had this remark been a question rather than a snark, it might have struck me as intelligent. Nevertheless, I shall clarify…
How does a comment's sarcasm detract from its intelligence? Where's the logic there? []

quote:
Overall levels of employment fluctuate, as they usually do, and the size of the fluctuation is relatively large compared to changes in minimum wage employment. Here is the U.S., minimum wage workers account for less than 3% of hourly employees, which is less than 2% of workers paid wages & salaries. If you went out & fired 10% of them overnight, that’s an increase in the unemployment rate of about 0.2%, small enough to be swamped by unrelated employment growth in the other 98% of the economy. Since political pressure for raising the wage floor is probably highest in years when employment is rising, it is not surprising that the impact of increases in the wage floor on overall levels of employment would be swamped out by the rest of the economy.


The wage floor reduces low-skilled employment. Those job losses may or may not be an acceptable cost of raising wages, but they are very real.

Wow - we agree here, more or less. But this is trick; good policy decisions depend on navigating a maelstrom of competing and conflicting economic and political forces. If the economy can afford a wage increase which benefits the worst off and doesn't increase unemployment, so be it. That's good enough for me.

I see that the main purpose of this thread is for you to demonstrate your "superior" knowledge of economics, which I have neither the time nor the inclination to indulge. It's been a few years since college and these theories are not as fresh in my mind as they clearly are in yours, so I'll stick to my point in bold above and be on my way []

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Grimwulf Stormspear
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Sorry, I thought I had included this link. [] I guess not.


The point of this thread, since you are making a feeble attempt at mind-reading, is to discuss policy issues, instead of the interminable “good guy / bad guy” debates that never accomplish anything. [] I also enjoy teaching. I’m not a world-class chess player, but I enjoy teaching new players the basic elements of strategy. I enjoy learning & teaching & solving puzzles because they engage the mind.

You chose to turn this thread into a debate rather than a conversation, after I had simply answered Talan’s question in a simple, straightforward way. Why you would want to turn it into a debate is a question I can’t answer. I mean, there are reasons I don’t get into debates over physical chemistry or 17th century French literature.

Now, as to your post, if you want to model the impact of a wage floor using a derived demand model, you can, but you still get the same result: fewer jobs for low-wage workers. [] Asking where the customers will go a firm closes is asking only half the question (from a derived demand perspective). You must also ask how the customers are responding to increasing prices. Well, they will be cutting back their purchases, so that fewer firms are needed.

Freya asks:
●●●●● So the fact that we develop labour saving technology means we don’t have a minimum wage? ●●●●●

Huh? []

I was pointing out that, over the long run, in response to a wage floor, some firms will respond by replacing low-skilled workers with labor-saving technology. I assume your question made more sense in the original Klingon. []

You keep pointing out that total employment increased when the wage floor was adopted. Post hoc ergo propter hoc. Nice. []

The real question is what impact the wage floor had on the affected portion of the labor force. Here in the U.S., we have had years of changes in the wage floor. Studies of this much larger, properly defined data set provide robust evidence that the wage floor increases unemployment among low-skilled workers, whether total employment is increasing or decreasing due to other factors.


Freya writes:
●●●●● Whilst the theory here is sound, again it’s too limited to be of any use to us in the real world. Evidently, demand has been elastic enough to avoid the consequences you predicted. ●●●●●

Actually, theory is of great use in understanding the real world. And you meant to say that demand has been inelastic. [] Only if elasticity equals zero (not a real world occurrence) can costs be fully passed on to consumers.

And again, your premise is false, as you keep relying on disaggregated data that tells us nothing about the disemployment effects of the wage floor. What evidence we do have paints a different picture.


Freya emphatically proclaims:
●●●●● If the economy can afford a wage increase which benefits the worst off and doesn’t increase unemployment, so be it. That’s good enough for me. ●●●●●

But, in fact, it’s not at all clear that the wage floor benefits low-skilled workers (“worst off” or otherwise). Their wages rise, but so does their unemployment level. On balance, are they really better off? Are poor neighborhoods really better off when teenage unemployment rates climb above 70%? Isn’t it better to have them working at market wages than to have 2/3 of them with time on their hands & so many temptations nearby?

Shouting won’t change the facts. [] Or their consequences.

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Furthermore, it is my opinion that Obamacare must be repealed.

From: The central lake-lands of the Great Peninsula. | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Matt The Courageous
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There should be a minimum wage. Set a standard and then let the market drive it. The economic base will determine whether or not it is high enough. Also the glut of unskilled workers should play a roll. And those who don't claim tips on there income should be held for tax evasion. Sound harsh, sorry. It's just how I feel. Having been a small business owner, and paid my fair share and then some. Taxes that is.
Let the market drive it. When work is bountiful and the labor market has slim pick-ens, minimum wage doesn't mean as much. It's only when the economy is really depressed that it truly plays a factor. It's a historical fact.

-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-
"Long may truth prevail."
"Peace to the faithful."
"Fear no darkness!"
"Fight the good fight!"
"for even a fool if he is silent, men will think him wise"
Anger is easy, forgiveness is hard.

From: pacific northwest | Registered: Apr 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Eluchil
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quote:
It actually hasn't made a single bit of difference to jobs and unemployment has remained around the lowest in the Eurozone at 5%.
I knew we would succeed one day []
So, Freya, Athene and Wetty (and the other British), how do you feel about using the marvellous € ? []

From: Menegroth, deep under the sea | Registered: May 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
The Swordmaster
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The day we start using the Euro is the day I give up on this Government - sterling is stronger than almost any currency in the EU, Euro or otherwise, and it would be complete idiocy for us to switch to the Euro as long as we remain in that position.

As to the rest of the debate, I didn't study economics at school, but I can give an opinion on it none the less.

As Freya says, there has been no impact on unemployment in this country because of the minimum wage and all in all it's been a good piece of legislation. I might be right-wing and a capitalist, but I don't think that people should be paid less than they can live on, and we have increased the minimum wage as the cost of living goes up.

Companies either deal with it by, as Freya said again I think, passing the cost onto thier customers, or taking a small cut in profits.

As for the minimum wage for London campaign, I didn't know about that, but it's actually something the Mayor has thought of that I agree with. The cost of living is just so much higher in London that it makes sense, but the problem is, where do you cut it off.

I actually live outside London in a neighbouring county, but because of our proximity to London, we have a much higher cost of living too, but we don't benefit from the London weighting, and wouldn't benefit from a special minimum wage if it was introduced, and that makes it very difficult for people to live and work here. What you end up with is people who work in London living here, and those who work here living in the next county north []

Anyway, my rather useless two pence added to the thread.

From: Paphos, Cyprus!!! | Registered: Dec 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Amárië
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quote:
The day we start using the Euro is the day I give up on this Government - sterling is stronger than almost any currency in the EU, Euro or otherwise, and it would be complete idiocy for us to switch to the Euro as long as we remain in that position.
*roots for Britain to switch to the Euro*

*hates the pound:dollar exchange rate* []

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The Swordmaster
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You might get fewer pounds for your dollar, but everything is cheaper here - or so my friend who's recently moved to the US tells me.
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Roll of Honor Athene
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quote:
how do you feel about using the marvellous € ?
In theory I think it's a great idea. But Swordy's right; we currently have no incentive to switch. I think that will change in my lifetime,. but not yet.
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Imbëar
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[]
quote:
"One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them,
one ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them
..."

_____________________________________________________


Imbëar

[ 04-11-2007, 02:37 PM: Message edited by: Imbëar ]

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Roll of Honor Athene
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I think the idea of the euro was to bring to bear competitive buying power against the dollar. Otherwise it may well be "one ring to rule them all", and not one of ours.
[]

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