Guest Column: Minimum Wage, Maximum Rage

Two years ago I opened the doors to my new business, Sal’s Bakery and Café in Springfield. As a new small business owner, I had my ups and downs. Taxes, inventory, utilities, advertising, everything comes with an ever-increasing price tag. Now our commonwealth is facing a new increase, a positive for many and a negative for some: an increase in the minimum wage.

The problems with this increase are numerous for a small business owner. Do I have to reduce employee hours? Do I have to lay off employees? Do I increase prices? Each of these choices comes with a cost. Increasing prices may very well reduce purchases; laying off employees and reducing hours could be detrimental to employees. It seems easy to understand how a small business owner would be upset at the idea of a minimum wage increase. I am a business owner, not a charity. It only makes sense for me to make money from my employee’s work. If the employee is costing me more than I am profiting, that is bad business. If I increase prices, I potentially lose business.

Some “experts” try to persuade us small business owners that the increased wage equals out to more spending. I call that bullshit. If an employee sees a $3 per hour increase at 40 hours, he or she will take home about $95 after taxes. Is an additional $95 in his pocket going to mean that he will support small local businesses? Most likely not. Such a person seems an unlikely candidate to switch to a more expensive product just because he has a few extra dollars that week. On top of that, most businesses don’t give 40 hours to minimum-wage employees.

Bottom line, this is typical Massachusetts ignorance. Our elected leaders think they are helping, but they are not. Not one of them talks to the silent heroes of our communities: the small business owners. We are not rich people; we wake up before the sun rises, and we go to bed sometimes after midnight. We stay up worried about tomorrow’s sales, and we sometimes struggle to pay all our bills.

We love our neighbors and try to be as fair as possible. We pay more than our fair share of taxes, but we always get screwed in the end. Then these same politicians wonder why there are so many vacant store fronts, and why Main Street is covered with storefront churches and not shopping plazas. Why do we protest Walmart but do little to support mom-and-pop shops?

Minimum wage should not be a living wage. It is intended for non-professionals and students. The American way is not to settle for the minimum but strive for the maximum. We Americans are risk-takers, foreseers, philosophers and doers. We should never be comfortable with what is minimally guaranteed, but utilize our liberties to reach our dreams. We are not meant to be simply content, but we are called to strive for true success, virtue, and happiness. This liberalism that takes our economy hostage needs to be tackled and the free market should be allowed to be just that: free. This free market will then turn us to maximum wage and minimum rage.•

Sal Circosta closed Sal’s Bakery and Cafe earlier this month.

Author: Sal Circosta

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