I work for a company that sells products and services manufactured and delivered by people with disabilities. We don’t employ such people directly, but we work every day on their behalf.
As you can imagine, this is not always easy. In fact, sometimes it can seem like an impossible task. That’s because people with disabilities aren’t always capable of producing as much as non-disabled employees, and often require heavy supervision that drives up both the costs of production and the prices we market to potential customers.
I once visited a workshop that employs people with cognitive disabilities. I observed one of the employees putting small metal bolts into various boxes according to their size and shape. The boxes would then be sold to local contractors and hardware stores.
As easy as the job was, he was doing it all wrong. After just a few minutes, his supervisor was forced to empty the boxes and explain to him yet again how to do his job. He started again, but after watching him for another few minutes, I wasn’t sure he would ever get it right.
But there are success stories, too. I once met a woman who suffered from a severe learning disability. She had been unemployed for years and almost gave up hope of ever finding steady employment and supporting her children. After several months working with a local charity organization, however, she found a job on a janitorial crew. At first, she struggled. She had very little self-esteem and found it difficult to follow instructions. But her willingness to try again until she got things right impressed her supervisors and she was promoted and given full-time benefits after just two years.
I could go on. We work with thousands of people like this, and the stories are as endless and diverse as the many lessons I’ve learned from them. But let me end with one timely lesson: Peter Schiff is right.
Random, I know. Peter Schiff is a libertarian commentator and investment banker. You are probably wondering what he has to do with employing people with disabilities.
Answer: Recently, Schiff came under heavy scrutiny after insisting that employers should be allowed to pay employees with mental disabilities $2 per hour. The interview was televised as part of a Daily Show clip highlighting the minimum wage debate.
Unfortunately, Schiff’s choice of words was poor. But his idea—that persons with disabilities should be allowed to work regardless of how productive they are—was not. In fact, insisting that people with disabilities earn minimum wage like everyone else creates a huge barrier to them finding and keeping a job. Allowing them to work for less—even Schiff’s $2 per hour—is the only way to ensure that all who wish to work can find work, regardless of how productive they are.
What a poignant article.
In CA, back when hubby worked in the university system, he had a co-worker who came in laterally, paid by a separate funding because the man had brain injuries.
He could do the job, however.
The Cal state disabilities funding only lasted a year.
In Utah, where the minimum wage is low ($7.25/hour) employers go as far as hiring (probationary) people with severe disabilities.
Some of them make it and others don’t.
But there are job openings everywhere here.
I have learned that Utah has an incredible inbreeding issue, making a boon out of the genealogy business.
One result is a lot of people with weird disabilities you don’t see everywhere else.
Another result is job openings that even a 3rd grader could handle.
If the minimum wage were as high as Obama wants, a whole lot of employers here would be forced to let a whole lot of functional, but disabled workers go.
How would that be a good thing?
Is it me or is it confusing to others, that at the same time that Democrats are calling both for illegal immigrant amnesty (so that they can supposedly fill “the jobs Americans wont do”) and expanding them guest worker permits, that at this same time, Democrats are also pushing to raise the minimum wage to at least $10 an hour.
I just can’t fathom why the US Chamber of Commerce, big business moguls and establishment Republicans are pushing the first, yet silent on the second.
I mean think about this for a minute: If the Democrats, illegal immigrants, US Chamber of Commerce and the business moguls get their way, Amnesty passes and many of these illegals will be able to legally work in the US. The Amnesty will be used to gain Democrats Millions of more voters, so that they stay in power with a permanent advantage. That means that the Dems will also be able to raise minimum wage to even higher levels, and force employers to pay amnestied immigrants the same. It also means that even more regulation and income redistribution will surely also be passed.
How could this possibly be a win for the US Chamber of Commerce, big business and Establishment Republicans? I just don’t see the logic.
Guess who else supports raising minimum wage?
This should give Venezuelans plenty of disposable income to spend on highly rationed toilet paper in their utter empty grocery and department stores.
Viva la revolución!