Tying the minimum wage to inflation: the worst bill of 2012?

No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the Legislature is in session.”

No matter who said it first, the quote is accurate. Perhaps the worst bill of 2012 has been introduced by Rep. Miguel Garcia (yes, THAT Miguel Garcia) and it would amend New Mexico’s Constitution to increase the minimum wage annually based on the rate of inflation. Why is this a terrible idea? Following are just a few of the many reasons:

1) minimum wages by their nature increase unemployment among minorities and the young (those who are at the lowest rungs of the work force);

2) indexing the rate to inflation means that New Mexico (like the City of Santa Fe) will be increasing the minimum wage even in a recession;

3) if raising the minimum wage year-by-year is such a good idea, why not just make the wage $20 or $30 an hour? The fact is that even advocates won’t support such a move because it will cause a sudden, well-publicized wave of layoffs. The piecemeal approach is used to mask the real effects of the mandatory wage increase;

4) it is morally wrong for government to stand between a voluntary agreement made by a worker and their employer. If I want to work for free or sub-minimum wage rates, that should be my right.

5) raising the minimum wage is bad policy, but it is just that: policy. The advocates of this proposal know that Gov. Martinez will veto this business-killing measure and are attempting to do an “end-run.”