Portage la Prairie, MB – Local low wages hold the key to financial prosperity. A local economic advocate, Kent Dueck, is looking to turn a perceived weakness into Portage la Prairie’s biggest asset.
Dueck spotted an opportunity with Portage’s long history of household incomes lower than the national average. “We shouldn’t sit here and moan about how little Portagers make. We should embrace our low wage reality and then leverage it for our gain,” Dueck said.
Dueck and his partners are lobbying to have Portage become a test market for their revolutionary economic concept that’s gaining attention and support from national and international businesses
“Portage is the perfect place to do this,” Willy Dueck said. “A small town with a high percentage of low-wage earners. We feel this market would embrace the new economic and social model. Right now everyone is looking at ways to increase things like minimum wage. The real opportunity is in doing the opposite.”
The new paradigm is being hailed as “The Maximum Wage” and would rid Portage la Prairie of minimum wage requirements and replace it with a $16 Maximum Wage limitation.
“Studies have shown that people work best when faced with the right motivation. Studies have also proved that somewhere around $15 an hour for full-time work is the amount needed to provide the very basics of a life,” Mike Dueck, partner in the project said. “Our initiative would get rid of the stigma of “minimum wage”. Nobody likes to work for the very least they can be paid legally. People making the Maximum Wage will feel much better about themselves.”
The trio believes the new Maximum Wage will draw a high level of interest from manufacturing, retail and service based employers to the city, bringing thousands more low-wage jobs to Portage.
“What was once a problem of low-wages will be turned into the solution,” Mike Dueck said. “By keeping wages just above the poverty line and offering little to no pension or benefits, people will be motivated to show up for work every day, continue working well into retirement, accept overtime, take fewer holidays and sick days. “
With most of its citizens making a similar amount of money, the city stands to gain socially by not having to deal with issues of economic and class disparity. “It’ll almost be utopian. No one will be burdened with trying to keep up the “Joneses”. They’ll all just be barely getting by, but everyone will be in the same boat. So instead of complaining, they’ll just keep rowing because if they stop rowing and start complaining the boat will sink and everyone will die,” Willy Dueck offered.
News of the pilot project is already attracting interest from companies looking to lower their operating costs. “Targeting existing categories like retail, fast-food and Christian ministry groups, who already embrace the low-wage model will be the starting point,” Kent Dueck shared. “Large-scale manufacturers currently operating off-shore will be drawn to this economic environment like moths to a flame. Wages in China and most of Asia are climbing and this will give us a leg up because nobody but us can guarantee a Maximum Wage.”
With the abolishment of a minimum wage, employers of any kind will be allowed to offer workers whatever wage the market will bear and Mike Dueck isn’t worried about any potential exploitation by employers. “Certainly not, I mean if someone doesn’t want to work for a specific wage then it’s their choice not to, after all, they’re not slaves. They can always try improving their skills and get a better paying job and leave lower paying jobs for those desperate and needy enough to come here for that kind of work. It’s a win–win.”
The Maximum Wage initiative is being heralded by economists as a potential game changer. The cost certainty on one of their major inputs, and the ability to set however low a wage they want to, is a business’s dream. Social activists are opposed to the plan but were not available for comment at press time.
“Sure, some might not like everything about this plan,” Willy Dueck admitted. “But we have to ask ourselves what kind of city we want. Do we want a city that increases wages and drives business away or a place that has a Maximum Wage that attracts opportunity? In less than a generation we could see the population grow to over 100,000 people. If people want Portage to stay at 13,000 forever then keep doing what you’re doing.”
Once the plan gains local, provincial and national approval it will come into being, generating a much-needed boost to the local economy.
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