Economy & Business

Government Should Dump Wage Laws

Protestors outside a Miami McDonald’s demand a $15 minimum wage, November 10, 2015. (Joe Raedle/Getty)

What should government do about wages? Butt out.

From minimum wages to living wages, liberal busybodies keep trying to decide how much Americans should be paid for their labor. They need to stop.

Here’s why.

First, fundamental freedom. As long as an employer and employee are happy with whatever wage is being paid and received, it’s none of the government’s damn business what that figure is. If Gomez wants to pay Wilcox $5 per hour to paint his house, and Wilcox is happy to earn that amount, who is the government to step between them and stop their deal?

If Gomez is making Wilcox work at gunpoint, then call the police. Otherwise, leave them alone. Government’s vaunted definition of social justice should not undermine two infinitely higher virtues: mutual benefit and shared happiness.

Second, the minimum wage is self-contradictory. No wage at all would be okay. But, somehow, a less-than-minimum wage is illegal.

It is perfectly legal for Jackson to have an intern and pay her $0 per hour. However, if he tells her, “I cannot afford to pay you the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. But I can afford to pay you $6 per hour. What do you think?”

The intern replies, “I would prefer $6 to $0. So, great.”

Well, that’s illegal. How does that make any sense at all?

Third, liberals who clamor for a higher minimum wage cannot decide how high it should be.

The minimum wage is self-contradictory. No wage at all would be okay. But, somehow, a less-than-minimum wage is illegal.

Obama wants to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10. (What an odd number. Why not just $10.00?) On Capitol Hill, 32 senators and 165 House members — all Democrats — want to hike the minimum wage to $12 per hour. City councils in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle recently voted to raise the minimum wages in those localities to $15 per hour.

If caring, compassionate, brilliant statists — from the federal bureaucracy to the White House to Capitol Hill to the Golden Gate Bridge — cannot agree on what the proper minimum wage should be, why should any American have any confidence that anyone in government has any idea what any worker ought to receive for an hour of his labor?

Indeed, is it possible — just possible — that a worker and his employer might know what that wage should be better than someone at city hall or on Capitol Hill?

Fourth, many of those who holler for higher minimum wages are rampantly hypocritical. Among the 197 Democrats who co-sponsored a bill to create a $12-per-hour federal minimum wage, 94 percent pay their congressional interns precisely $0.00.

If it’s okay for these bleeding-heart employers in the public sector to pay their interns no money whatsoever, who are they to tell private-sector employers what to pay their employees? Anyone on Capitol Hill who does not pay his interns at least the minimum wage has zero moral standing to lecture other people about what they should pay their employees.

Fifth, why stop at $15 per hour? Who is to say that $7.25 or $10.10 or even $15 is the correct minimum wage? Indeed, why not raise it to $100 per hour? This policy would have enormous economic benefits:

‐Assuming 52 weeks of labor at 40 hours each, every American would earn at least $208,000 annually.

‐With such huge paychecks, every American worker would occupy at least the top 3 percent.

‐Everyone earning $208,000 would fall into the 33 percent tax bracket. This would generate roughly $9 trillion in income-tax revenues annually. Americans could pay off the $18.6 trillion national debt in just over two years!

#share#Free-marketeers should promote this modest proposal and let the Left slowly conclude that, at some point, artificially raising the price of labor will kill jobs for human beings, while creating new opportunities for robots.

Only an idea as wacky as a $100-per-hour minimum wage can penetrate liberals’ concrete skulls.

But then again, maybe not.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online.

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