A recent Winston-Salem Journal editorial praised legislators for raising the lowest rung of the pay scale for state government employees to $15 an hour, but more thoroughly chastised them for not raising the state’s minimum wage for all workers.
Adjusting the pay scale for government employees to a livable wage is an appropriate and noble act. But why have legislators consistently opposed this for the workforce in general? What’s good for the goose isn’t good for the gander?
But the Leftists in the mainstream media still don’t get it. They exhibit either willful economic ignorance or yet another instance of cognitive dissonance in denying the harmful effects of the minimum wage. For a quick refresher, following is a rundown of some of the main reasons why minimum wage laws should be abolished:
- Minimum wage laws criminalize voluntary labor agreements. In a free society, employers and employees would be free to negotiate the terms of employment. Minimum wage laws threaten punishment to any such agreements in which the agreed upon wage falls below their arbitrary number.
- Minimum wages price low-skilled labor out of jobs. Its basic supply and demand. At a higher price (wage), buyers of labor will demand less, and there will be more people willing to supply and “sell” their labor. Workers who don’t possess the skills to produce, say $15/hr value to the company will be laid off or otherwise never hired. There will be a greater tendency to replace low-skilled workers with automation. Moreover, a higher mandated minimum wage attracts more qualified candidates to apply for low-skilled work, crowding out the lower-skilled candidates.
- Those that do retain their jobs after a minimum wage increase may not benefit on net anyway. They may see their hours cut, or non-wage benefits like health insurance, vacation time, training or working conditions reduced in order to offset the increased wage.
- Minimum wage laws make it easier for employers to discriminate. At higher minimum wages, there will be a higher number of people willing to supply their labor. This excess supply of willing workers makes it far easier for those employers that want to discriminate on non-work related characteristics like race, gender, nationality, etc.
- The minimum wage has racist origins. In the early 1900s, progressives who supported the minimum wage did so because it excluded so-called “undesirables” from the labor force. They knew minimum wage laws priced low-skilled labor out of jobs. They viewed this as a feature of the minimum wage, not a flaw. “Undesirables” at that time included blacks, Chinese and more recent immigrants from southern and eastern Europe, among others.