There are certain truths that are inevitable in society that have little to do with death and taxes. Inflation and recession are two truths that people are having to come to grips with as the economy continues to sputter and spit along on two cylinders. A number of political initiatives have been enacted to try to fix the economy and I have addressed one of them already. Another one that is causing much grief is the minimum wage.
Government has long had its hand in the pocket of big business and never seems to tire of trying to tell business how to do business. Well, telling business how much to pay employees is number one with a bullet for Big Government. In the olden days, before unions, big business often took advantage of workers, offering a pittance for pay and no benefits and hazardous, often life-threatening work conditions. Unions stepped in and forced business to pay a living wage and make the workplace safer. Now, in the age of OSHA and the FTC, unions have outlived their usefulness. This doesn’t mean they are no longer around—they sure are. But they don’t really do anything except collect dues and bribe politicians.
But I digress. The minimum wage was born out of that same age and need. Workers need to earn enough money to survive and business has demonstrated the desire to pay as little to workers as they can get away with. This is why a lot of businesses outsource labor to other countries that have no minimum wage requirements. It is still cheaper to import than to pay American workers. I’m not saying that practice is correct, but it happens. Business wants its ever-growing profit margin.
So, what happens when the government forces business to raise wages? With an increase in wages comes a loss in revenue, since funds to pay for those raises have to come from somewhere. Since business cannot let their profit margin take the hit, it has to do something to offset this loss in cash flow. So, it raises prices so that the difference in labor cost is offset by the increase in revenue. Profit margin remains (or hopefully and probably grows) and the executive’s bonuses are safe. It seems a perfect solution, except that we consumers have to pay that increase in prices.
Now, where do we see this increase during a recession? Businesses with a predominately minimum wage workforce are the ones making most of the changes. Food Service and retail have seen a marked increase in prices. This is to be expected and while we can grumble about it, we end up paying for it anyway. But there is one area that I have to draw a line in the sand.
Soft drinks in restaurants.
Last year a glass of tea or a soda cost anywhere from 89 cents to $1.35 depending on where you went (sport stadiums and movie theaters excepted). Now the cheapest I have seen it is $1.85 up to $2.15 for the same glass. This is ridiculous. No matter the advances in food technology we have seen in the past several years, I don’t think the food cost has not increased that much, but the price of menu selections has gone up, so I know they have already compensated for the labor cost. No, this is simple price gouging and they fully expect everyone to pay for it like we always have.
But I refuse!
I refuse to spend that much for a drink in a restaurant where I am already paying more than 10 dollars for a so-so meal. I refuse to cow-tow to greedy corporations looking to pad their books on my thirst. If a restaurant charges more than $1.35 for a glass of tea or soda, I will drink water first! Those of you who know me know I cannot stand to drink water, so this is a big deal for me. If and when (and I expect they will) they start charging for water, I will no longer patronize those businesses. This is my protest. This is my cause.
If you think as I do that the price of a soda is ridiculous, then join me; drink water instead of tea or soda. If everyone stopped buying tea and soda for a month, I bet they would get the message. Who’s with me? Anyone? No one?