Press "Enter" to skip to content

Novstrup Can’t Offer Realistic, Coherent Defense of His Youth Minimum Wage

Senator David Novstrup may be seeing stars when he bonks his head against the reality of voter outrage in 2016.
Senator David Novstrup

I just spent twelve minutes listening to the podcast of Senator David Novstrup (R-3/Aberdeen) stammering through his Monday interview with Greg Belfrage about Referred Law 20, Novstrup’s proposal to cut the minimum wage for young workers.

This interview alone should explain why I am so eager to replace David in the Senate and provide District 3 with effective, articulate representation.

Twenty months after proposing his affront to the voters, Senator Novstrup can still barely spit out his rationalization that cutting kids’ wages gives them more opportunities.

Quick show of hands, workers: when your boss cuts your pay, how many of you shout, “Thanks, boss, for the opportunity!”?

Pressed by Belfrage to respond to the argument that his youth minimum wage treats workers differently (I would say, opens the door to age discrimination), Novstrup ad-libs this rhetorical gem:

People say well that’s not fair, those people work just as hard as somebody over eighteen, why can’t —they should get paid the same. Well, if we … think everybody should be paid the same, we should actually regulate that everybody should be paid the same, like, because right now, if you’re working for a business, and you’ve been there five years, and they hire somebody today, how would your listeners feel if they got paid the same wage as they do even though they’ve worked there five years? A lot of people would be very uncomfortable with that, so people I think should be paid on their work experience, are they on time, do they work hard for that employer, that’s how it should be decided, not just because everybody that walks in the door should be paid the same because not everybody has the same experience when they walk in the door [Sen. David Novstrup, interview with Greg Belfrage, “Youth Minimum Wage Would Encourage Hiring Teens,” KELO Radio, 2016.10.17].

Yes, Novstrup is that bad at defending a point. He’s not even talking about the minimum wage any more. He’s pretending that all the people who are going to vote down his Referred Law 20 are voting for some weird Harrison Bergeron socialism. Opponents of Referred Law 20 aren’t advocating a uniform wage; they are advocating a uniform minimum wage, the same basic labor protections for everyone able to labor.

At no point in my advocacy against Novstrup’s youth minimum wage can I recall saying that we should automatically pay a sixteen-year-old new hire the same wage as an employee who’s been on the job for five years. It’s unlikely I’ve said such a thing because I would assume that a reasonable employer will reward any employee who sticks with the company for five years with something more than minimum wage. David’s “example” not only doesn’t apply to the youth minimum wage; it doesn’t exist.

To demonstrate his inability to string together factual arguments, Novstrup offers this inexplicable sentence toward the end of his interview:

The business and the employee would have the discretion in between $7.50 and $8.55 [Novstrup, on Belfrage, 2016.10.17].

The employee has discretion over that wage? What? If a sixteen-year-old doesn’t like the $7.50 an hour Jason Parker wants to pay her to grill burgers in Arlington, she can set her own wage at $8.25?

I’m probably working too hard to find logic in Novstrup’s statements. It’s much simpler to look at his attempted explanation of the youth minimum wage as more feckless word salad tossed on top of a proposal he can’t defend.


  1. happy camper 2016-10-19 06:08

    He made a logical argument even if that latter sentence didn’t make no sense. Besides experience kids are not the same in attention span, emotional maturity, or physical size and they chatter endlessly about nothin that alone should cost em.

    He’s not bad lookin note Cory didn’t stoop to picking an unflattering photo. They’re using that middle eastern hippie pic is still grinding on me.

  2. Porter Lansing 2016-10-19 07:37

    These Novstrups are “ridin’ dirty” and need to go back to their Kart Karnival and figure out more ways to weigh down the milk bottles to keep you from winning a teddy bear. Cory Heidelberger is highly qualified, uniquely positioned and the only proper choice in District 3 Senate.

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-10-19 08:21

    Hap, do I really look Middle Eastern in that 2001 screen cap from KELO-TV? Do you think that’s what they’re reaching for? (Middle Eastern hippie… shall we invoke Cat Stevens? ;-) )

    I disagree on the logical content of David’s ramble. He’s making an argument for different pay levels based on experience. That’s fine. But he’s not offering a reasonable argument against the minimum wage, offering every worker the same basic protection against exploitation in the workplace. He’s actually rationalizing taking advantage of kids in the workplace by exempting them from the standard minimum wage.

    It’s perfectly logical to say a first-time employee should start at minimum and work her way up. It’s perfectly logical to say an employer may/should reward an experienced, well-performing employee with a pay raise. It’s not logical to say that first-time workers don’t deserve the same basic level of legal protection of their rights and dignity in the workplace.

  4. happy camper 2016-10-19 08:48

    Well, I saw hippie while others said middle eastern, then I saw that too, not that there’s anything wrong with either one, but they were playing in to those stereotypes intentionally rather than use a current photo. Not right.

    My point when we were kids and got our first jobs, we were goofballs with enthusiasm but not much else. The lower wage allowed a better atmosphere because we weren’t being pushed beyond our abilities. Oh the drama we brought to the work place. Our boss was so patient dealing with us like an uncle/father which some of us didn’t have at home, and partly why he was such a much-loved person in our town. Kids at age 15 or so need those opportunities. They shouldn’t have to be mini-adults but be able to enjoy their age.

  5. jerry 2016-10-19 09:09

    happy, when you were a kid 35 or so years ago. It was 1980! Things have changed. You are expected to come to work now, wear a uniform and get in line. There is no more grabassing on the job, you are expected to work or some old guy that lost all of their retirement in 2008 will take your place. This wage deal is to be expected as your entry level into the workplace. If you are not taught the value of work and what compensation means for your efforts, then why bother with it. You may as well stay home and text. Isn’t that the point of entry level jobs?

    BTW, in that picture, I see a hardworking young feller that shows his work ethic by maintaining a blog. That ain’t no easy job to do. They did Cory a great favor by showing him before working his fanny off and after. This is what you will get in Pierre…stumbles off soapbox

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-10-19 09:37

    Wait, Hap: when we were kids, we may not have gotten paid as much as adults, but we still got the same minimum wage, didn’t we?

    Jerry, note that that photo of me is so old, it’s before I started blogging! I do recall that the KELO video showed me tapping away at my tiny NEC Ready laptop… probably on my dial-up Internet connection.

  7. jerry 2016-10-19 10:20

    That was my point Cory, it shows that you have clearly matured into the working gent that will get stuff done. You get stuff done by being able to communicate and comprehend the needs with your fellow legislators. If you cannot, then we continue on the road we are presently on, more corruption with more looking for the quick buck for personal interests rather than solving our problems.

  8. Porter Lansing 2016-10-19 10:34

    I don’t know what kind of a job you had as a kid but Novstrups require more then most and these teens deserve to be paid the South Dakota minimum wage just like I was paid and you were paid. Using an elected office to cut their payroll is just wrong. And to sponsor the legislation themselves is just plain shady … very shady.
    Here’s the Novstrup rules … (Does this seem like just a low expectation, low wage job?)
    We are particular as to whom we hire. Our standards are high, and we expect a lot from our employees, but the rewards are worth it! Before you fill out the application For employment, take a look at a few of our requirements and expectations:
    You must be dependable, honest, and hardworking.
    You might be scheduled for any shift. Sometimes you won’t get home until late in the evening.
    You must be able to work on evenings, weekends, and holidays. Holidays include Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day.
    You must be at least 16 years old.
    Whenever you are in uniform, you must always focus on guest service and safety, greet every guest with a smile, look every guest in the eyes and offer to help, and thank every guest and invite them back.
    You need to interact with the guests and make them feel like they are welcome to Thunder Road.

  9. Porter Lansing 2016-10-19 11:00

    What do you think, folks? Do you think the Novstrups make these kids buy their own uniforms? Do you think these kids get anything extra for working late at night on The Fourth of July? As I said before, Novstrups need these kids more than kids need a job like this and trying to legislate down their salary, on top of these workplace demands is just good business, I guess … if you’re Don Trump.

  10. Carol Hayse, LCSW 2016-10-19 11:51

    For heaven’s sake, please understand that many teenagers (sad to say) are parents! But whether they are parents or not, they need job protections and fair wages just like all workers.

  11. Porter Lansing 2016-10-19 11:57

    Hear, hear, Ms. Hayse.

  12. Curt Jopling 2016-10-19 20:42


    Thanks for the Kurt Vonnegut tie in. I couldn’t read that well when it came out in 1961 but enjoyed it when it was re-released in “Welcome to the Monkey House”.

  13. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-10-20 09:13

    Carol raises a good point… which reminds me that it is not of employers’ business what their workers do with their pay after work. Some kids are knuckleheads; some kids are parents… just like adults. Some kids will buy beer and cigarettes, some kids will buy diapers for the littlest ones in the house… just like adults. Some kids will buy extravagant shoes on eBay, some kids will save for college… just like adults. Let’s not pry into personal lives and choices; let’s just protect every worker with a basic minimum wage.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.