Its effect on you, Pasture’s Delights, and everyone else
Boy meets girl. Boy likes girl. Boy gives girl flowers. Girl never speaks to boy again.
- Farmer has bull. Farmer wants bull to be nice and tame. Farmer treats bull like a pet. Bull one day attacks farmer.
- People who are poor want more money (to live better). People support minimum wage. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer.
- Politician wants more power. Politician tells the people what they want to hear. Politician buys votes with tax dollars. BINGO! We have a winner! Politician gets more power.
If the boy wants to attract his girl, if a farmer wants doesn’t want to get attacked by his bull, and if people want to increase their median standard of living then it is senseless to keep repeating the same things and expect different results! How many times have we raised minimum wage? With 90+ socio-economic programs attempting to “redistribute the wealth” the wealth gap keeps widening between the rich and the poor. As counter intuitive as it may seem, disbanding many social welfare programs, including minimum wage mandates and unemployment insurance, will actually lift people out of poverty rather than keep them there. I shall explain here in this article.
Before we get started, you may wonder why I am discussing the minimum wage topic in this Pasture Bites newsletter. I believe that if you want the REAL milk we produce, at a price you can afford, you will want to invest the time to read and understand this issue. In my 14 years working as an airline pilot (a union employee), and now going into year five at Pasture’s Delights as a business entrepreneur who employs people, the #1 issue that most concerns me for long term sustainability (in both the airline and farm business) is socio-economic policy. The “entitlement mentality” is seeping deeper and deeper into every crevice of the American people’s psyche - the full spectrum from gov’t leaders, to business owners and leaders, to the working class, and those not working. And when things freeze up (when the money stops flowing, just as it did in Germany prior to Hitler, just as it did in Russia prior to Lenin, and just as it started to in Ukraine recently), things crack wide open spewing a lot of blood, and I mean that literally. Of course we don’t want to go there, so the hope is that this article may save us heartache in the future. Being able to afford quality milk is the lesser of our worries, but first let’s discuss any minimum wage mandate’s impact on the price of products, and the wealth gap.
Intention of Minimum wage
- Businesses pay people more money
- More people with more money = economic stimulation
- More people with more money = fewer people in poverty
- Fewer people in poverty = less taxation subsidizing poverty wages
Sounds like a winner, right?
“Supporters hail Minimum wage for “fairness” and a benefit for poor people. This, it is alleged, will provide more income to support spending and stimulate the economy. If it works that well, why not make the minimum $50? This would provide someone working 2,000 hours a year an income of $100,000, eliminating poverty and stimulating the economy. Obviously, $50/hour would be detrimental to employment as is $10/hour, it’s just a matter of degree” says William Dunkleberg, a Forbes magazine contributor.
In states such as Washington and Connecticut, which report no harm on job growth due to raising the minimum wage, the economic growth is in high skilled areas. Taking a look at the country as a whole:
What really happens when minimum wage goes up
- Relative labor cost goes up (inflation) = business cannot afford higher labor costs
- Business cannot afford (artificially higher) labor costs = business closings
- Business closings = less business competition
- Less business competition = higher product price elsewhere in marketplace
- Higher per product price = less # products purchased = less demand for jobs
- Business closings = fewer jobs
- More people after fewer jobs = downward wage pressure
- Downward wage pressure = lower demand for products
Between business (owners) facing less competition for their products (ability to raise prices), and having more competition for the employment they offer (ability to lower wages), the business owner is able to get wealthier and at the same time the worker receives lower wages. This scenario is alive and well, and people wish to blame capitalism for causing the wealth disparity). Actually it isn’t capitalism causing the problem here. It is the socialistic “medicine” in the form of minimum wage (and other programs) COMBINED with capitalism making the person (system) sick.
When the “medicine” is pumped into a healthy capitalist system, here’s what happens:
- Breakeven cost goes up
- Breakeven cost of product goes up = price of product probably has to go up too
- Price of product goes up = makes product unaffordable to more people
- Unaffordability to more people = decreased demand for product
- Decreased demand for product = decreased demand for jobs
- Decreased demand for jobs = more people competing for smaller number of jobs
- Competition for jobs = downward pressure on wages, pushing more people into poverty
- More people in poverty = more taxation to subsidize low / no income households
- More Social programs = increased cost for administering programs and increased opportunity for fraud and abuse
- More taxation = less take-home pay to purchase goods
- Inflation = now your (saved) dollars saved have less value (to purchase car, a home, or start your own business?)
- Fewer businesses offer fewer jobs, pay lower wages have less competition, and charge higher prices, and capture a higher percentage of the wealth (transfer) = widening wealth gap between rich and poor
- Fewer, but larger businesses = sets rich up to get richer
- Super rich = out of touch with reality for what it is like for many people to not have work or work for low wages, and remain in poverty
- More workers and fewer business owners = fewer people exposed to knowing and understanding how business works
- Differing perspectives – wealthy resent being taxed to subsidize the poor, the poor resent the wealthy living a lavish lifestyle = conflict.
- Conflict = unhappiness, social instability, who knows?
Present day America - the results of recent socio-economic policy:
Are there fewer or more businesses on Main Street today as opposed to 100 years ago? We have minimum wage today; are people making more clocking in at Wal-Mart as opposed to on Main Street a 100 years ago? Is the wealth gap widening between rich and poor? Is America becoming more “polarized”?
At the airline I work at many employees resent the lavish lifestyle of the CEO, and executives resent what amounts to many employees having a non-competitive “entitlement” mentality doing only the minimum to retain their employment. These are seeds that foster an uncooperative workplace culture. The lack of perspective and understanding is creating conflict that could harm the airline and its entire people.
Minimum Wage = Fewer Teen Jobs (Even at a Farm)
“Another argument in favor of the minimum wage is that it is a stimulus, introducing new income and spending into the market. But was there more income to spend in 2009 when nearly 600,000 teen jobs were lost? Common sense says that every dollar a minimum wage worker receives must have come out of somebody else’s pocket, either small business owners or their customers. The money for a higher minimum wage does not come from thin air.
Consider a community based pizza parlor selling 100 pies a day for 360 days at $10 each. Total revenue is $360,000. It employs 10 minimum wage workers earning $7 per hour, working 2000 hours a year, making labor costs $140,000. Assume rent, utilities, equipment, depreciation, insurance, supplies, licenses, and food costs come to $170,000 per year, leaving a profit of $50,000 for the owner and his/her family. Raising the minimum wage $1 would raise labor costs by $20,000 (paying more for the same amount of labor) and reduce profit to $30,000. The owner must either move into a smaller house or raise prices, which reduces the demand for pizza, resulting in the loss of a worker. So, the full increase in the wage cost of an increase in the minimum wage comes out of the pockets of customers or the owner’s family, and the one person who loses a job. There was no net gain in income to increase spending in the community served as every dollar the minimum wage workers received came out of someone else’s pocket in the community.
As a jobs program, raising the minimum wage is a real loser. Congress raised the minimum wage 10.6% in July, 2009. In the ensuring 6 months, nearly 600,000 teen jobs disappeared, even with nearly 4% growth in the economy, this compared to a loss of 250,000 jobs in the first half of the year as GDP growth declined by 4% Why? When you raise the price of anything, people take less of it, including labor. The unemployment rate for teens remains unacceptably high. Workers of all ages that are relatively unskilled are adversely impacted by this policy.” - William Dunkleberg
At Pasture’s Delights I have thought of the value of employing teenage people to spend time with the animals an hour or two a day so the animals are more docile, or to do odd-jobs like trimming fence rows and keeping the ditches clean. However, the value in those activities does not justify paying ever-higher (minimum) wages. So, the ditches remain dirty, the fence rows unsightly, the cows are more wild, and (I generalize a bit) teens sit at home, contribute nothing to society, get fat and earn no money.
This management decision is not about “profit” at Pasture’s Delights. Avoiding superfluous minimum wage workers helps us to keep your REAL milk affordable at a time when other costs are spiraling upward.
Minimum Wage Poverty = Resentment
“Firms cannot pay a worker more than the value the worker brings to the firm. Raising the minimum denies more low skilled workers the opportunity to get a job and receive “on the job” training. The impact of raising the minimum wage in 2009 on teen employment makes it very clear that this is especially harmful for young teen workers looking for their first opportunity to have a job. Raising the cost of labor raises the incentive for employers to find ways to use less labor. Most minimum wage earners are not in poverty, yet their employment opportunities are impaired as well as those who seek employment. This is but one of the poorly designed policies that are created by politicians who have little or no understanding of how business works. They promise higher legislated wages or other benefits to constituents who don’t understand the true economic impact in order to gain votes.” - William Dunkleberg
I hear some wage earners remark that they will not work for minimum wage to survive (posing the question who is responsible to support them then?), or that it is not fair that they should have to work 50-60 hours a week to survive. Hold that thought. Along the same lines, back in January it was much more comfortable for many to call off work or not brave the wintry elements and stay in their house because it was too dangerous to be on the roads or too cold to be outside. Yet, it was perfectly fine for other people to have to fly the planes or keep the airline running, or for Farmer Mark, and his co-workers to be outside to endure the weather conditions. Someone had to milk the cows! If people will not work for minimum wage for 50-60 hours a week, will they understand why Farmer Mark, a business entrepreneur, risks working 70+ hours a week receiving $0 going on four years now, making tons of personal (family) sacrifice with the hope of someday of recouping my investment? I will be viewed as “rich” and not deserving of getting a return on my investment, and people (who have no clue what I invested) will want to tax me (get something for nothing) because in their eyes they don’t think I deserve more money than they do, even though they had the same opportunity to risk working for $0, working long hours, and sacrifice – as I did. Talking about wanting your cake and eating it too. (If you think this inequality is inevitable, read about the Amish community at the end of this newsletter.)
Just as there is economic consideration for a minimum wage worker, there is economic consideration for entrepreneurs to weigh the risks of low or no income, the long hours, and sacrifices if there is low or no potential for return. I am a “poor” entrepreneur. Explain to me how increasing the minimum wage is going to help me. I only wish I got paid (rewarded) what amounted to a minimum wage for the hours I put it. I, and others, have gotten paid $0 for of thousands of hours of work. On top of that I, and others, have invested $LOTS. On top of that a huge sacrifice has been required of me, my family and friends to do what it takes to rear the business. Just as the extremely wealthy perhaps have no clue what it is like to be poor or work hard to live on poverty wages, most workers who collect a paycheck, minimum wage or otherwise, have not a clue what it takes to start and rear a business to a point to where it can afford to pay its founder(s). Raising minimum wage causes existing and would-be business founders to reconsider if the risk, including the burden of increased wage/income gap, investment, and sacrifice is worth it, potentially reducing jobs and job creation potential.
If someone does not want to work hard, sacrifice, or risk that is their freedom of choice to do just that, which I totally respect. I just ask that they not think it is my responsibility to support both myself AND them.
People can read books about flying, farming and cooking all day long but that doesn’t make them a pro at any of them. If I were to talk about flying, you would probably listen to what I have to say because I am an experienced airline pilot. Because I have been grass-based farming I get calls from people who want to learn about grass-based farming. I do not get calls from Paula Dean, or any other cook, because I have zero credibility in the kitchen. Then why do people value the opinion of political leaders regarding socio-economic policy when they have no business experience? Oh, I forgot. They care more about people being poor, as if I, and others, don’t. There is a reason why the majority of business leaders and (proven) economists are against raising the minimum wage. Of course that isn’t what most people want to hear, and being that this is a democratic process people will likely vote themselves into slavery, and as the poorer get poorer and the few rich get richer the opportunity to vote and get ourselves out of this down-ward spiral slips away.
The minimum wage issue is a conversation you need to be having at the supper table with family, and when you’re talking with friends, neighbors, and co-workers. The points I bring up here you are not going to hear very often amidst all the clamoring for “raise the minimum wage!” because business leaders/economists are simply outnumbered by workers, not to mention chances are business owners putting in long hours probably have less time to afford to offer their perspective on the issue. This is why it all the more important that if you understand the implications of raising minimum wage why your help is needed. We have to act. The extent to which the citizenry is content to passively wait for someone else to solve our nation’s problems the more pain we will all inevitably feel, because if we do not act soon all that is need of fixing will be unfixable.
Implications of No Minimum Wage
(Potentially) lower labor wages = lower barrier entry cost to start business
- More businesses = more product competition
- More product competition = lower product prices
- Lower product prices = more goods people can otherwise purchase
- Increased demand for goods = increased demand for labor
- In this scenario (without any interference from a minimum wage mandate), there are more businesses and business competition (wealth spread across more businesses), and increased demand for labor (more businesses and more products), wealth distributed to more workers. Unfettered free market is the great equalizer.
- More businesses = more jobs
- More job openings = more competition for jobs
- More competition for jobs = increased wages
- Increased wages = less hours have to work
- Less hours have to work = more time for family, volunteering
- More jobs and higher wages = less reason for people to be on welfare (social welfare programs)
- Reduced tax burden = more take-home pay
- More take-home pay = increased ability to help a person legitimately in need (whereas a person may “slip through the cracks” or not be aware of a government program that can help them)
- The scenario “levels the playing field”. Increased product competition, lower prices, and increased demand for labor and labor wages = a natural convergence of the wealth gap
- = more people working, and realizing a higher median standard of living
- = less resentment and less conflict
- All combined = the American Dream made possible for more time and energy to enjoy life with family and friends, and not at the expense of the others and future generations.
The Amish Model: An economy that (really) works for everyone
I never forget attending a grazing conference one winter. An Amish man told the story of his little boy seeing his parents and older siblings doing evening chores. “Dad, I want to help. What can I do?” said the boy. “Son, why don’t you come over here. You are in charge of filling the cow water tank” said the dad. A menial task, but now the boy had a sense of purpose, and felt like he was part of the (family) team. Instead of badgering the rest of his family he was contributing. The Amish dad said this freed up his time to do something requiring more skill, which contributed value, as well, to their family farm (business). The boy didn’t see any money from filling the water tank (it isn’t always about the money), but the Amish man did explain how as his children got older they began to earn more for their contributions. As adults they have a work ethic, not an entitlement mentality, and they strive to earn and provide for their families. There is no minimum wage, yet they do not live in poverty. In fact I am willing to bet that the average median household net worth (wealth) of an Amish household far surpasses that of the average (non-Amish) American household, and probably rivals some of the wealthiest communities in the state.
Because of no minimum wage, Amish have a lower barrier cost to entry to start businesses. If you think organic milk is expensive, but affordable, you can thank the Amish for seizing the opportunity to enter organic dairying and lowering the price to such an affordable level. If they had to pay minimum wages, their barrier to entry would be too high, and organic milk prices would be much higher. They are able to start dairy farms that compete against mega-dairies that resort to employing foreign labor (while taxpayers get to subsidize the social programs that go along with that). Since Amish families have started many smaller organic dairies product competition for organic milk has helped reduced the price of organic milk. Organic milk is more affordable which allows more people to benefit from organic milk.
Amish earnings from producing organic milk allow them to purchase other products, spurring Amish to start furniture businesses, construction businesses, Amish bakeries, and other businesses, thus creating a labor demand that employs their population, nixing the need for a tax burden to support those who do not work. They are able to keep a higher percentage of their income to help each other out in times of need. There is cooperation between Amish people. (At the airline, wage entitled union employees and executives foster an environment of non-cooperation.) Amish are resourceful and compete (both capitalist traits) allowing them to capture time and energy (wealth) from going to waste. This wealth allows them to purchase land, own a home, and have a healthy work/life balance conducive to raising a functional family, and live life with a smile, enjoying the reality of their American Dream come true.
Some people think Amish are backwards. Maybe we need to take a look in the mirror and see who has it backwards. It took the Israelites 40 years to make an 11 day trip. Rather than keep going around and around the mountain making the same mistakes chasing our tails, let’s follow the wisdom of our Founding Fathers. Successful workers, farmers, and business owners who were willing to risk their own lives for you and me I bet they knew what they were talking about to make the American dream possible. After all, things went pretty well until things started getting mucked up in the late 1800’s, when people began to think they knew better.
I’m a REAL American. I want the American Dream! If you do too, you know what to do: Say No to the Minimum Wage!
Email your government representative today!
American Farmer and Entrepreneur
John Date 3/7/2014
First off thank you for your vision regarding raw milk. I am only in my first year of "ownership" and am so very pleased. I strongly agree with all you said but want to add a big step in reducing government meddling is with a fair tax. Just my 2 cents and thanks again to your entire team.
JR Date 3/7/2014
I will be unsubscribing from your emails. I am personally offended that you think that it is appropriate for you to email your political diatribes to your customers. My grandmother always said that there are two things that you never discus in polite company, politics and religion. What's next mark, putting bible verses on the gallons of milk? How about 1 Timothy 5:18? Anyhow, I feel that this is inappropriate, and I will not patronize someone who feels that it is okay to shove their opinions down the throats of people who did not ask for it.
As far as the issue is concerned, I'm not on one side or another. I think the problem is systemic, meat packing plants knowingly hiring illegal immigrants, factories moving to China to save a nickle and put it in the pocket of the CEO, etc. But I'm not going to discuss that with you here. I didn't ask for it, and I don't appreciate it.
I support your farming, and natural product. But I will be purchasing my products elsewhere from now on from someone who respects me as an intelligent individual capable of making my own reasonable choices and mature enough to procure my own unbiased education. As they say in science "You have a right to your own opinion, you don't have a right to your own facts."
Esther Karwath Date 3/7/2014
most excellent article Mark! You have a way of laying it out very clear and making it all easy to understand. Thanks for this insight. I'll be copying it and posting on my facebook.
SD Date 3/7/2014
It's very unfortunate to see someone that values the products available from Pasture's Delights doesn't value the time, effort or sacrifice necessary to bring these products to market. If nothing else, Mark was attempting to explain how this policy is going to affect the farm, the owners, the employees and those of us that desire their products. Whether or not one agrees with his opinion, the bottom line is the same...raising the minimum wage is going to affect us all. I personally would like to thank Mark for sharing his concerns. As a herd share owner, his concerns are my concerns. Perhaps you would like it better if Mark chose to remain quiet on this issue and just chose to continue to raise prices. Then one day you would be complaining of how high the prices are and threaten to take your business elsewhere because you haven't the faintest idea of what caused the prices to rise. As far as your comment about religion and politics...this is neither. This is about business.
Mike Date 3/7/2014
Great article! I might never have thought about much of what you've said. Excellent points and excellent detail! Keep these kinds of articles coming.
Dan McGillen Date 3/7/2014
Mark - while it is clear you put some serious thought into your remarks, I feel like there is a substantial component of the situation that you are missing. The core problems we are facing right now have little to do with the minimum wage and everything to do with automation. Huge segments of the global economy rely on manufacturing and IT systems, both of which are constantly optimizing and improving their processes to require fewer and fewer people. Jobs that individuals used to do are now being entirely automated by computer programs - with departments of dozens of people being replaced by computer programs overnight. As an IT worker myself, I am seeing this trend firsthand. The less-skilled occupations are going away, being replaced by a much smaller number of jobs that require much higher amounts of training and skill. The number of jobs is shrinking rapidly and that trend is going to continue because automation is comparably cheap (and continuing to get even cheaper) than people for most repeatable tasks. Yes, there will always be ditch diggers and janitors. But those people have to feed their children too.
Despite the cost of doing business going down, costs of goods are staying the same or going up - corporate profits are at record levels, and being taxed at record-low levels. In many cases, executive compensation is directly linked to corporate profits. This creates a situation where it is in the executive's best interests to continue to charge the highest prices possible, even as goods can be manufactured ever more inexpensively. We have a generation of youth getting out of college right now that are having trouble finding jobs because there just aren't enough jobs to support the number of skilled workers we have - and unskilled jobs are disappearing at a rapid rate. Older workers are having the opposite problem - why hire an experienced worker that's older when you can hire a younger one much more cheaply. The labor market is a buyer's market right now. The reality is, it's not really possible to raise a family on minimum wage, even with two parents both working. And for many companies, even minimum wage is too much to pay their employees, so they outsource the work to other countries that treat their workers as disposable commodities and pay them fractions of what minimum wage is in this country. But even that will be coming to an end soon as automation continues to make most types of repeatable work cheaper and cheaper. The service industry is headed the same way - see automated phone trees and overseas call centers as an example of this.
You mention entitlement programs. We are fast reaching a critical mass where the vast majority of people on this planet will be unemployed with no prospects of employment. Unless we change the way we look at entitlements, we are going to have millions of people starving to death with no other option. It's not a question of people being lazy or expecting a handout - it's a problem with there not being enough work for people to earn a living on. At this point, the only way out I see is some form of minimum standard of living that everyone should receive automatically by nature of being a human being living on Earth. I realize that's pretty pie-in-the-sky, but I think that's where things are headed. That or massive starvation and death.
You mention the Amish. The Amish are regularly touted as being very community-oriented. If an Amish farmer is injured, the others in the community will support the family while the farmer recovers - there is a built-in safety net there. Additionally, their approach to simple living means there will always be enough labor for full employment. That's what happens when every activity is done by hand. But the world probably isn't going to go back to a decentralized economy anymore, not as long as there is a profit motive. And that's where programs to ensure people have sufficient food, shelter, and medical care come in. Now, I believe those programs should be financed by the same large corporations that are profiting so much from automation and large scale manufacturing. And I also think that those programs should have strong oversight and be run by management structures that make far more efficient use of the resources they receive - I have no problem with feeding my brother, but I prefer that we do so in the same efficient, optimized, constantly improving fashion that business likes to run in these days.
Now to be clear - small business is not where the problem lies, in my opinion. I know many small businesses are not "raking in the profits" as it were. I ran my own business for seven years and really struggled to make a go of it. You aren't manufacturing one billion of anything - economies of scale simply don't exist for you. You have to wear many hats because you can't hire people for each function. Because small businesses run on much smaller margins, labor costs absolutely hurt you when minimum wage increases. I would argue that large corporations in many cases are the enemy of both small business and the population at large. It is my opinion that getting rid of the minimum wage is solving the wrong problem.
Tim Date 3/7/2014
Thank you, Mark, for a great article! That must have taken some time to put together, I don’t know how you do it. I’m sure it cost you more to write it than it did me to read it.
I agree with you. Government is force, and force cannot increase productivity (what wages represent). A million man army cannot force a chicken to lay a single. And while we should not muzzle a mere ox while treading out the grain, we would, however, muzzle a man for speaking his mind? Keep it up, Mark, and may God bless you.
Curtis Anthony Date 3/7/2014
I agree with JR and not with the political commentary. I'm in this for MILK and nothing else. At least nothing political if you don't mind. I will be reconsidering my herdshare as well.
Phil Mente Date 3/8/2014
Even if you're only considering yourself, government interference and micro-management affects you.
If the government forcing Mark to pay a higher minimum wage in turn forces him to raise prices for his products, that affects YOU. If the government decides on a whim to outlaw raw milk entirely (which several states have done), that affects YOU. Don't just bury your head in the sand.
Bill Sampson Date 3/8/2014
Hi Mark (and to all who read this),
You bring up a good many points on this topic, some good, some correct, some NOT correct. It’s understandable that your thinking is from the standpoint of a small business owner. And small business owners are by-far, and most of the time trying to make a living, by selling a good product at a fair price. Unlike big business, which is charge what the traffic will bear.
Unfortunately for you (but fortunately for us) you chose to leave a good paying job, to become a not so good paying as a farmer. Unfortunately again…, you chose to become one of the farmers that don’t reap some of the billions of dollars of “farm subsidies” that our government has given to farmers for the past many decades (all from our taxes). Unfortunately again…, you chose to pick a raw milk product farm, which pits you against all the government regs and public objections (procured from BIG business interest) to your SO NEEDED product line. Sad but true, you chose to make a living from a business, that will forever have more than its share of costs and problems because you chose to deal with live stock.
I/we don’t know what your payroll is, but if you’re paying a living wage to your employees that do labor intensive work, then good for you. But if your laborers aren’t making above $15,000 a yr for 40hrs, then they need to look for work at Ford, GM and other big business, that pay upwards of $50 an hour w/ benefits to assembly line workers. Minimum wage has always been to help the poor have a better life, NOT TO PUT MORE MORNEY into the economy for big business to pay millions more to the CEO’s. College professors in most colleges today, make upwards of two million a yr. Is it any wonder kids can’t afford to go to college?
I’ve written more than I intended to, so I’ll just close by saying. I disagree with your viewpoint Mark about a lot of things, minimum wages being just one of them. And as they say on the TV show “Sharks”…, “thanks but I’m…, OUT”. So please unsubscribe my subscription to your letters…………..
Troy Fisher Date 3/10/2014
Although we knew this would be a contentious topic, I feel that some of the reactions amount to throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The larger issues of access to REAL food and support of small sustainable farming is the real issue and this is something we can all agree on. Yet people are willing to quit supporting our farm over a difference on one ideological side issue.
Even I don't fully agree with Mark's position and I'm his partner, but he's allowed to have his opinion. We don't have to agree on everything and it's even healthy that we don't. My personal position falls much close to Dan McGillen's as I feel there are larger forces at play.
LB Date 3/10/2014
Whew, good thing I was fortunate enough to be a customer, so I could be "enlightened" on the topic. Great milk, but I don't know why so many Midwestern small businessmen have to walk around with this chip on their shoulder about how hard they work. There are other attitudes that beget success and don't necessitate cutting everyone else down. If you strive to model the hard working ethos of a different generation or the idealized Amish, you can't brag about it. It undermines the whole enterprise.
Steve Date 3/11/2014
It looks like Mark, the author of this article is a fan of Glenn Beck (based on his Facebook page 'likes'). That's a low blow there, but it's clear that Mark has opened the gates to what I suppose is some sort of political discourse. I question the wisdom of broadcasting a partisan, ill-informed, self-important rant about one of the owner's pet issues. It's bad business!
The list of countries in the world with no minimum wage is short. These economic powerhouses include Guinea, East Timor, Kyrgyzstan, and Djibouti. Okay, so these countries might have more problems than their economic policies, but it's clear that in so many cases, the institution of a minimum wage was extremely hard-won by workers. Have labor movements across the world been fighting and dying for a minimum wage, child labor laws, and safe working conditions because, well, they're misinformed and these sorts of policies actually reduce their opportunities to earn a living? Why have big business interests throughout the world hired their thugs and lobbyists to break initiatives where workers are demanding more rights and a better life? Because the bosses and CEOs know what's best for employees, and the ignorant masses have no clue? If we start looking at the world through Mark's eyes, we start to long for the days of monopoly industrialists and slave-labor conditions, because, hey, desperate workers are willing workers.
But Mark is not a millionaire capitalist, so why is he promoting the ideology of the superrich? Mark and many of us are caught in the middle. The fact is, it may be true that an increased minimum wage will cause a substantial increase in Mark's and Troy's labor costs. But it will also mean that there will be more people around who will be able to afford fairly-priced food. But we can't predict any of this, and for this reason, it is not even relevant. I often agree when Mark and other small businesses often complain about the crushing weight of taxes and regulations on their small enterprises, while the same standards apply equally to huge-scale multinational enterprises. Strip away the commodity crop and dairy subsidies and we're getting closer to a competitive price field for Mark and other hardworking entrepreneurs. Or, better yet, let's overhaul the subsidy structure and provide credits, abatements, real incentives, etc. to small enterprises. And especially when it comes to food, small is beautiful, and the more human care put into it, the better the product. Cutting corners just doesn't fly, and that includes labor costs. Am I the only one surprised to learn that Pasture's Delight only pays (some) of their workers something close to minimum wage! But this is unfair -- not just to the workers, but to the small businesses who are pressured by necessity to keep their wages as low as possible.
Financial institutions don't provide the same scale-appropriate access to capital to small business compared to giant businesses. This is the unfairness inherent in our financial sector-governed economy. The frustrated small business owners often are squabbling with the wrong crowd.
And by the way, the Amish are a terrible example of an "economy" without a minimum wage. Generally speaking (which isn't really fair since their is a huge diversity of ways that Amish communities decide to govern themselves), the Amish participate in the wider market, but do so in a way that profits their community collectively. Decisions are collective (a kind of decision-making that it doesn't sound like Mark is very interested in). As another commenter mentioned, the Amish have a built-in safety net in their social structure. "Our" economy does not really have this. So in "developed" and "developing" societies everywhere we have this interesting sort of life called "the working poor". The Amish bend the market to their community purposes; they don't bend the community to fit the demands of the market. The latter is a mindset that characterizes Mark's essay as well as, increasingly, our urban, state and federal policymakers (and their Wall Street patrons). Unfortunately, there are those among us who continually try to enshrine the logic of the market onto our basic human relationships.
Jen M. Date 3/11/2014
Wow—what the heck on everyone's rantin' n' ravin' over Mark's DOUBLE PLUS UNGOOD thoughtcrimes. I have never seen so many knickers in a twist, and I am the mother of a 4 year old and 7 year old, both expert knicker twisters.
Bill Sampson, basic research provides more credibility. You state "most colleges today" pay professors $2 million a year. I looked on payscale.com, and even in NYC professors range from $50,000 to $165,000. National median is $81,000. And this is not even including that burgeoning class of exploited serfs known as adjuncts and teaching assistants, in which tenured radical Marxists and entrenched administration skim the fat of their labor.
Speaking of exploited serfs (note that segue!), we have a lot of people distressed over Mark's temerity in addressing minimum wage, but the dirty little secret to most organic farming and CSAs is the use of "interns" for much of the labor. For example, here is a great opportunity where you can earn $2.86/hour working 70+ hours a week and living in a tent from April through November:
Personally, I think it’s a great way for idealistic young people to get their hands dirty and learn some real skills. Their personal sacrifice benefits the entire organic community.
Steve, I would have found much of your analysis thoughtful if you hadn't engaged in such nasty ad hominem attacks against the honest farmer supplying your milk, at the risk of his own wealth and reputation in an era of SWAT team attacks on dairy farmers. Perhaps you should channel some of that anger, go to the local co-op or CSA and tear apart their vegetable displays as I am assuming you will equally be "surprised to learn [insert farm] is only paying (some) workers minimum wage." And oh yeah--don't eat any winter tomatoes because chances are they've been picked by actual slaves in Florida.
There are things worth hulking out over. A farmer with an opinion is not one of them.
LB, your comment is really just too sad for words, and for reasons you could never understand. One reason so many small Midwestern farmers have a chip on their shoulder is that they are broke and in the process of losing their farms to the likes of Monsanto, while they watch their children suffer a lifetime of abuse by a national culture and media that treats yeoman farmers with a viciousness just this side of their portrayal of Appalachians. I'm sure you've wrangled your fair share of ornery spreadsheets or whatever, so yay for you, but this exact attitude is the reason this country is in such a hot mess with its farms. It takes a lot of fortitude to come back to the farm and earn $0 while exposing yourself to abuse from herds of stampeding bovines, not to mention the actual dairy cattle.
Mark, I can understand that your project can be crushingly frustrating. Federal agricultural policies since the Butz era seem specifically designed to eviscerate the yeoman farmer and drive the land into the hands of corporations that are almost palpably evil. Good on you for putting up a fight and taking a stand with something other than your mouth. I will be purchasing additional products and promoting your business with friends, family and neighborhood because I admire anyone who stops buying into the false red vs. blue puppet show and takes steps to fight the manipulators behind the curtain.
Ellie Date 3/16/2014
This is a wonderful article. I appreciate your use of our first amendment right. It takes great courage to profess an opinion which is "unpopular" and controversial. Keep putting them out there, and hopefully you can affect people one at a time.
"When you find yourself on the side of majority, it is time to pause and reflect."
Curtis Athony Date 3/17/2014
“The bottom line is we have a responsibility here to keep the whole of the organization in mind and it has to take precedence over the personal expression and opinion on social issues.”
Dan Cathy, CEO and president of Chick-fil-A.
John Date 3/18/2014
Jen plaudits and accolades you articulated that perfectly and with humor! Thanks.
Joseph Andorfer Date 4/15/2014
Well, at least there is some discussion here. I do have to step in and say to Mark two things: You take a huge business risk by thumping on this anti-government bible; also many of your assumptions and associations are either incorrect or misinformed. It doesn't seem like you have processed material from both sides of this argument. As one other commenter mentioned, the Amish are a bad example to support your position...they have a social safety net in their community that you and your supporters would find a sort of character weakness. And government should never be seen as a defacto evil. Who builds your infrastructure? Who keeps your utilities under control? Who puts up stop lights at busy intersections? I hate waste and corruption in government, but I do believe in government. I believe in and demand an efficient government. What I do not like are gigantic businesses that push out the smaller competition...like giant dairy that prefer to have all of the Pasture's Delights go away and quit talking about the benefits of raw milk...and giant dairy has the money to drown out these health discussions and influence legislation. Here is where the attack should be focused. Monsanto uses their "feed the world" mantra to drown out a discussion of health/nutrition issues with the products they produce. Minimum wage is an issue, sure, whether you're on the employer or employee side of the issue. But, even with the info Mark passes on to us here, minimum wage is an evil that giant corporations want us all to see as an evil. Mark, shouldn't you be more concerned about government from the standpoint of whether or not they legislate your business or product as illegal? Okay, so there's my diatribe. Thanks to so many commenters that presented well thought out responses (and thanks Jen to clarify teacher pay--even college teacher pay--, I don't even know a teacher who knows a teacher who makes $2 million/year).