Kevin Williamson adds some clarity to the minimum wage debate in The Minimum-Wage Myths in The National Review Online.
The purpose of this fight is not to hash out economic questions related to low-income people. The purpose of the fight is the fight: There is no minimum wage high enough to keep the Democrats from introducing an increase next year, because the point of bills hiking the minimum wage is to force Republicans to vote against them, which provides Democrats with a moment of cherished political theater. They do not give a fig about poor people — as everybody knows, the real minimum wage is $0.00, and more Americans today are making that than at any time in recent memory, which is what is meant by “record low workforce-participation rates.”
The real scandal is that so many Americans have labor that is worth so little. But that’s an indictment of the public schools and the welfare state, not of the mean meanies at Walmart.
Also worth noting on this same subject is this post from Carpe Diem: In Western Europe, the average jobless rate is twice as high in countries with a minimum wage vs. those with no minimum
Bottom Line: The nine countries in Western Europe with a minimum wage of $0.00 per hour, which most economists and even the New York Times argued in 1987 is the “right” wage, are apparently doing much better economically than the nine countries that have
minimum wage lawslegislation that makes it unlawful to employ workers whose hourly productivity is below some minimum level arbitrarily dictated by government officials. (Thanks to Don Boudreaux for making that clarification.)
Like so many government initiatives they want to provide a benefit (in exchange for votes and power) but they do not want to pay for it, so they create some Rube Goldberg economic fantasy to hide the true cost from everyone- especially themselves. Only an economic fool would believe that some arrogant, all knowing elitist ass can centrally set prices for anything – wages, healthcare, energy, – ANYTHING -without significant consequences: some easily predictable but often not. It did not work for Stalin, Mao, Nixon, or Carter and it will not work for our current incarnation of the All Knowing Wizard.
If any GOP president had presided over an economic policy that had resulted in the incredibly high number of unemployed young minorities every media outlet (except one) would have blasted them as racist.