Leftist Minimum-Wage Nonsense

Jacob G. Hornberger – May 7, 2018

Actress Cynthia Nixon is running against New York incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo. Nixon is claiming that people should vote for her because she is the more authentic leftist. Attempting to establish that he is a real leftist, Cuomo points out that he got the minimum wage in New York raised to $15 an hour, a position that Nixon too, not surprisingly, endorses.

But doesn’t this concordance on the minimum wage show how mean, selfish, and hypocritical leftists are? After all, don’t they always portray themselves as the great lovers of the poor, needy, and disadvantaged? Such being the case, why do they limit the minimum wage to $15 an hour? Why not $100 an hour? Indeed, since both Nixon and Cuomo rail against income inequality, why don’t they support raising the minimum wage so high that poor people will earn as much as they do?

My hunch is that both Cuomo and Nixon are intelligent enough to understand why they would both say “No” if asked if they supported a $100 an hour (or more) minimum wage. They would respond: “Many employers cannot afford to pay their employees $100 an hour. If they are forced to do so, they will lose money and go out of business. The employee simply cannot produce sufficient revenues to justify the $100 an hour being paid to him. A $100 an hour minimum wage would cause massive unemployment.”

But what leftists simply do not understand is that the same principle applies to $15 an hour. There are going to be some workers whose level of productivity does not match up to $15 an hour, just as there are some whose productivity wouldn’t match up to $100 an hour. Those particular workers are going to be laid off or not hired because businesses aren’t going to lose money and go out of business by paying people more than what they are producing.

So, what happens to those unemployed workers? Leftists exclaim: “Put them on welfare!” That’s their way of showing how much they love the poor, needy, and disadvantaged — by making them lifetime dependent wards of the state.

More often than not, however, the unemployed go into the drug trade, given the exorbitant black-market profits that can be earned in that line of work. Many of them then end up in prison.

And here’s the irony: Those huge drug-war profits are a direct result of drug prohibition, which many leftists support and endorse. Nixon and Cuomo are two leftists who have come to their senses on drug prohibition, at least with respect to marijuana. Unfortunately, they still want the state to punish people who possess or distribute other drugs, which means that the big black-market profits for those drugs will continue to lure people, especially poor people, into that line of work.

Perhaps the best manifestation of the economic horror that the minimum wage inflicts on people is with respect to black teenagers. They suffer a chronic unemployment rate of 30-40 percent. That’s because the minimum wage locks them out of the labor market. They are legally prohibited from working at a wage lower than the state-mandated minimum. Thus, the law prevents them from getting on the bottom rung of the economic ladder. They are unable to secure a foothold in the business world, learning a work ethic, work skills, and how to treat customers. Because of the minimum wage, they are relegated to a life of welfare or drug-war crime.

Leftists love proclaiming how much they love the poor, needy, and disadvantaged. One can understand why black teenagers and every other person who goes unemployed because of the minimum wage might reject that proclamation. For that matter, so might the tens of thousands of poor, hardworking immigrants who were forcibly deported against their will during the eight years of the leftist regime of Barrack Obama.

This article was originally published at FFF.org. Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

 

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