The Corner

Economy & Business

The Minimum Wage — Even Darker Than You Think

Over on the home page yesterday, Mario Loyola examined “The Dark Side of the Minimum Wage.”

He correctly points out that mandating a higher minimum wage is certain to cause many low-skilled workers to lose their jobs and many others who are just entering the labor force to find it extremely difficult ever to find employment. Their labor simply isn’t worth the mandated hourly payment.

Leftist politicians pooh-pooh that, claiming there are some studies “proving” that job losses due to the minimum wage are slight. But it’s clear that they know they’re sawing off the bottom rungs of the employment ladder; otherwise, they’d make it much higher.

What I think is really dark is the way such politicians look at the consequences of their meddling with the price system. First, those workers who are priced out of the labor market just become clients for other Democratic Party programs and, more importantly, part of their voting base of frustrated people who are easy marks for rhetoric about creating “an economy that works for everyone.”

Second, minimum-wage agitation (“Fight for $15!) implants the idea in people’s minds that the way to get ahead in America is through political activism, not personal improvement. The “progressives” want people to look to government for whatever they want, and minimum-wage laws help do that.

If you consider minimum-wage laws from a public choice perspective, they’re a big success for the people they’re meant to help — leftist politicians.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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