Saturday, July 09, 2005

Minimum Wage Scam

After employee representatives Bridget Martin and Jeff Turkus advocated a living wage during the minimum wage hearings, one must ask whose interest they are really looking after. It is very tempting to believe that such a law is in our best interest, and that we should honor these two men for being our heroes in shining armor.

Between 1996 and 2002, 82 cities and counties in the United States enacted living-wage laws. Such wages ranged from $7.00 to more than $13.00 an hour. Economist Jeffrey M. Perloff stated, " Consequently, these laws may lower the quantity of labor demanded for the employees of covered firms because uncovered firms (including businesses from nearby cities) can hire labor at lower wages."


Competition between different communities is exactly why the U.S. Congress imposed the federal minimum wage. Representatives from several states would loathe the fact that other states would have lower wages for the same type of work. Thus, a high-wage state would lose jobs to low-wage states. The late Murray Rothbard, an economist with Ludwig von Mises Institute, noted, “During the 1966 Congressional battle over a higher federal minimum wage, the late Senator Jacob Javits freely admitted that one of his main reasons for supporting the bill was to cripple the southern competitors of New York textile firms.”

Another economist, a Nobel laureate, the late Gunnar Myrdal, stated in his book, An American Dilemma, that the 1930’s minimum wage law had hurt African Americans the most. Since blacks were willing to work in conditions and for pay not favorable to most whites, employers ignored their racism and prejudice to employ black workers. As soon as the government forced wages up, employers had no incentive to ignore their bias. We should thank the government for encouraging discrimination with its intervention into the marketplace.

It seems clear to me that Mr. Martin and Mr. Turkus are looking after their own interests and not ours. We would be accused of the same if we tried to impose our minimum wage laws on countries with whom we compete. Do we care about their poor? Hell no. What we care about is that their low wages may take our jobs away from us one day. Using the same logic, is Mr. Martin and Mr. Turkus trying to get us to raise our wages so that less jobs would migrate from the mainland and Hawaii to American Samoa?

Who’s being immoral here?

Jobs don’t create themselves. Workers don’t create their own jobs either. Entrepreneurs, who organize everything, put up the capital and take the risk, create jobs. StarKist creates jobs. McDonalds creates jobs. Local and foreign businesses create jobs. Employee representatives and politicians do not.

The most moral way to set wages is through negotiation between employees (unions) and employers without state interference.


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