My summer job at a camp when I was a teen paid next to nothing. In retrospect, I figure I should have been paying them for the apprenticeship I received. It had far more long-term value than an artificially inflated wage.
More significantly, I might never have gotten the job if the camp had to pay me, or its regular employees, a higher minimum wage.
My real market value was next to nothing. I was eager, willing and energetic, but I needed regular training and supervision.
And that points to the other reality that the minimum-wage hucksters hope you won’t notice: The real minimum wage, no matter what the government says, is zero. If jobs aren’t there, neither is a wage.
The private sector is not as heartless as the pols claim it is. Companies want a skilled workforce and are willing to participate in training the teen generation. Some will do it even in the face of government disincentives. But, as those disincentives increase, fewer will.
The private sector is not to blame for that. It is the public sector that needs to step up or, in this case, step back.
— Taylor Armerding is an independent columnist. Contact him at email@example.com.