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Minimum wage story left reader baffled

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A long article in the Feb. 16 Pioneer about the minimum wage issue has been causing me some angst. I must not be interpreting correctly what I read. I hope someone will help to clarify.

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I read about halfway down in the third column, "In a tier system, an employee whose wages plus tips equaled at least $12 an hour would stay at the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour plus their tips. An employee whose wages and tips were less than $12 per hour would get $9.50 plus their tips."

So if you're an efficient and courteous waitress and the people you serve reward you with generous tips, your employer can pay you less per hour than another person who is not so efficient and courteous? This makes no sense to me. The purpose of TIPS is "To Insure Prompt Service". I have considered tips to be a kind of bonus to the waitress for the service provided. The reason for one waitress to get better tips than another should be incentive for the second one to improve his or her service to customers. Shouldn't it?

In the fourth column, I read, "We have a situation in which we have a large number of low-wage jobs where people work and qualify for public assistance. We don't want to create a situation in which working more and getting job skills and moving up the income ladder sends you off the cliff of benefits so that you have a disincentive to work more." This says to me that we don't want people to improve their skills and gain higher-paying jobs because then they might not qualify for public assistance. Isn't that the whole idea? That people should be incentivized to gain job skills and higher-paying jobs so that they don't need public assistance?

I have understood that public assistance is for people who really need it, to which I heartily agree. But an able-bodied and able-minded person should not perpetually be on public assistance. Able-bodied and able-minded persons should be incentivized to gain job skills and higher-paying jobs so that they don't need public assistance. Shouldn't they?

Jan Kittleson

Bemidji

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