The degree of misinformation and open class warfare over the minimum wage debate is astounding.

Grace Hinrichs (“Letters to the editor: Working people deserve living wage,” March 1) writes: “Business owners bemoan having to pay a student looking for his first job any more than $7.50 an hour.”

First of all, I don’t know any small-business owners that “bemoan” paying any wage, provided there is equivalent value for the job done. We compete for labor, and very few of us pay minimum wage – we pay more to get quality employees.

However, any job must provide a return and a margin of profit. Wages are an expense, and expense must be offset by productivity.

Having said that, there are jobs that are not worth even $7.50 an hour.

Those jobs are not intended to provide “living wages,” they exist to provide entry into the job market, extra income and for some, experience and proof of performance that will lead to better-paying positions.

In the same edition of the paper, letter writer Mary Lou Bagley writes: “I offer a proposal to those who object to raising the minimum wage: An applicant for a business license or loan would be required to live for one year on the minimum wage.”

I’ve got news for her – most small-business folks live on far less, especially during the startup phase.

Small-business owners pay others before we pay ourselves.

We risk our homes, our savings and our health to keep our business going and to pay our employees in good times and bad.

In tough years, minimum wage would be a significant raise.