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CNN Learns There Really Is No Such Thing as a Free Lunch After All

Many readers of science fiction consider Robert Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" his finest work. Book Three is entitled TANSTAAFL, perhaps the core of Heinlein's economic libertarian philosophy. It simply means that one cannot get something for nothing.

It's a lesson that CNN has been slow to learn.

Two years ago, CNN was delighted to learn that Target was going to increase the minimum wage it was paying its employees: "Target is giving its workers a raise." It explained that the company would start paying $11 an hour while committing to additional raises over the next few years to $15 an hour by the end of 2020.

Nothing was said at the time about just who was going to be paying for those increased wages.

On Monday, CNN answered that question: the employees themselves, by many of them having their hours cut.

Over the last few months, CNN Business interviewed 23 current and former Target employees and learned that many of them had had their hours cut as their hourly wage increased. Said CNN: "Many of these workers say the cuts … have hurt them financially."

Their lengthy summary of those interviews included this from Heather, who started work at a Target store in Florida last November: "I got that dollar raise, but I'm getting $200 less in my paycheck." Caren Morales quit working at Target when her paycheck didn't cover the cost of daycare for daughter.

Others, like Michael, a veteran worker at a Target store in Texas, have had their hours cut so that they are "right at the cutoff point" for qualifying for the company's health care benefits. He needs 30 hours a week or more to qualify, but he now averages between 20 and 30 hours. Said Michael: "I'm hoping … Christmas will keep me at the average needed, but at this rate, who knows?"

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