Saturday, September 6, 2014

shoes and the minimum wage (a lesson in economics)

everybody needs shoes... kicks, chucks, treads, toms, shit-kickers, high-heel, pumps, crocs, flip-flops, boots, tennis, deck, loafers... doesn't matter what shoe, but you've gotta have them, right?

and you need more than one pair of shoes, right ladies?... even you guys need a few... formal shoes... work shoes... brown shoes and black shoes... beach shoes... house shoes... boat shoes for those nautical among us... high-heel; low rise; open toe; strappy; slip-on; zip-up... a shoe for every occasion!

how about those Jimmy Choo shoes?... now that's some footwear!... and we're not just talking Ivette Patent Sandals... no, we're talking Chocolate and Cobalt Suede Shearling Lined Hi-tops, too... and Amore Pointed Toe Ankle Boots... and Prescott Glossed-Leather and Suede Dégradé Derby Shoes.

so... why aren't all of your shoes made by Jimmy Choo?... what, too expensive?... that's not fair... that's classist, if not outright racist!... everyone should be able to afford Jimmy Choo's!!!


not true?

but what if ALL shoes cost $750, like Jimmy Choo's?... what if Nike, Reebok, Converse, TOMS, Puma, and every style and type of shoe cost $750?... how many pairs of shoes would you have?

you might get one pair.

you'd probably go without.

and when you finally saved up enough money to buy a pair, would you get just any old shoe?... would you get a pair of Croc's?... or flip-flops?... hell no!... you'd get the best, most reliable, sturdiest pair of shoes you could find... you'd make sure that you would NEVER damage or lose that pair of shoes... and you'd guard them like they were made of gold... hell, they might just BE made of gold for $750.

this sounds foolish, doesn't it?

everyone knows that there are classes of shoes... some are worth more than others... some people are willing to buy cheap pair of shoes, knowing full well that they won't last very long, and they'll have to buy another pair of cheap shoes to replace them.

some people will spend more on a pair of shoes... they'll take good care of those shoes... if they get damaged, they'll try to fix the problem before buying a new pair... maybe a new heel... re-sole the tread... new laces.

and a few people will buy expensive shoes, wear them once, and forget about them.

common knowledge.

now, imagine you are a business owner.

you don't need shoes; you need employees... you want to buy the best employee you can with what money you have... do you buy the most expensive employee on the market?... maybe you do, and you show off to your clientele that your company has the best employees money can buy... maybe you buy the best and put them in a corner office with a nice fat salary and no responsibilities... you buy them, and forget them.

or maybe you're more frugal... you want a good employee... one who will last... one who will do the job needed without a lot of upkeep... so you buy a mid-level employee at a fair salary... you don't want him to leave, so on occasion you give him the odd bonus... maybe a small raise... or a pat on the back, just so he knows he's appreciated... you take care of your employee because you don't want to buy a new one... not unless you have to.

or maybe you can't afford an expensive employee... maybe you don't have a business that makes a lot of excess money... so you go for a low wage, or even minimum wage, hourly employee... you know they're not going to be great employees... but you can afford to buy one now, and you can replace them when they stop working... maybe you don't take great care of them, and another employer steals them away from you, possibly offering them a salaried job... that's okay... you can afford to buy another... but you can't afford much, so you buy another minimum wage employee.

but what if ALL employees cost the same?

what if minimum wage was $15 an hour, and you can only afford $7.50... what then?

do you get one employee when you really need two?

do you go without?