Why the minimum wage increase may shut down Dee’s Route 202 Diner

The minimum wage debate in society is one of emotion and economics. From an economic perspective, the sustainability is often in question. How can businesses keep the doors open and prices down while being forced to pay their employees higher wages?

It sounds like a heartless debate, but for many small businesses, there is a limit to the budget.

The flip side of the entire debate is the need to sustain a home. If a job isn’t paying enough, how is one going to continue to thrive and keep their head above water.

The problem here is when the economics becomes muddied by emotion and because of this fact, small businesses are being faced with difficult decisions. One of them is Dee’s Route 202 Diner in Lebanon, as covered by the Bangor Daily News recently.

As a result of the increased labor costs to diner owners, they’re faced with difficult decisions, including cutting back hours of existing employees and even letting employees go. This is all to save the diner from shutting down, which could still happen in the end.

While the minimum wage push is done with good intentions, it’s experiencing some difficult blowback. Many supporters argue that big company bosses should be able to hack down their salary and divide their cushy bank accounts among their employees.

For big businesses and national corporate chains, this may absolutely be true. They could afford to raise the minimum wage offered to employees and make up for it by scaling it significantly high executive wages.

The problem is that the big businesses and national corporate chains can also sustain a minimum wage increase if they absolutely have to and move on with their lives. Small businesses not so much.

In the end, what’s going to happen is our community small businesses are going to fail, all because minimum wage supporters let emotion get in the way of economics.

Fast food chains are already experimenting with machines that can take orders automatically, a move that will undoubtedly phase out cashiers in our increasingly cashless society.

Small businesses? They can’t afford these high tech machines and they can’t afford to pay high wages to dishwashers and other entry level positions. The result is going to not be people making more money at these low level jobs, but instead having no job as the businesses scale back operations or even close their doors.

Is this where the supporters of minimum wage want to take us?

For what it’s worth, Dee’s Route 202 Diner owner Stephanie Harding noted she doesn’t oppose minimum wage. As a good business owner and employer, she likely understands happy employees exist when they’re taken care of. But as a business owner, she also knows budgets have limits and that bar is lower when you’re not a major corporate chain.

We can help improve society in many ways. But forcing down our local businesses that help boost the economy and keep jobs alive is not the way to do it. Instances like that facing Dee’s Route 202 Diner will continue to present itself. How many more small businesses will suffer under the weight of higher costs?

Chris Dixon

About Chris Dixon

Chris Dixon is a libertarian-leaning writer. In addition to writing "Undercover Porcupine", he is also the Managing Editor for The Liberty Conservative and writes for Cleat Geeks and Medium.