There’s been a lot of talk about giving every American a guaranteed income to create a more level playing field between rich and poor.

The Bozeman City Commission is looking at more money for city workers to reflect the costs of living in the Gallatin Valley.

No question this is not a cheap place to live and there’s a reason for that. The main one is that there is a competition for those who want to live here.

Those with money are willing to pay top dollar for real estate and those costs are reflected on store shelves and at the gas pump.

Raising Wages Is A Process

In private industry there is supply and demand. The more demand for products or services the more money can be charged, and more employees can be hired.

In the public sector everything is based on the tax base and those collections. The more you collect you can either hire more at lower wages or hire fewer at higher wages.

In either case the money must be there before a decision can be made. But here’s the problem with that thinking.

In the private sector if prices increase I can decide to do without that product or service. In the public sector I can’t do without a license plate, I have to pay property taxes no matter what the amount if I want to stay in my home.

I have to have city services in order to live and prosper in Bozeman.

If the City Commission decides to raise wages without the increased income to cover it then they will be forced to rate rates for the wrong reasons.

Some Final Thoughts

I’m all for someone making as much as the market will bear. However, just to raise wages as an act of compassion is the wrong approach.

Commissions have a responsibility to the tax payer — not political correctness. By all means raise wages if your income justifies it and the people getting the increase have earned it on merit.

The other important thing to keep in mind is that when wages go up in one sector that can cause a ripple effect to other sectors and that can increase prices for all of us.

Income is a trade-off for labor. If you artificially inflate the value of that labor, then that hurts all of us.