Wednesday, June 15, 2016
In a recent column about socialism, Thomas Sowell also discussed the high cost of minimum wage laws to those in whose name they are passed:
Back in 1948, when inflation had rendered meaningless the minimum wage established a decade earlier, the unemployment rate among 16-17-year-old black males was under 10 percent. But after the minimum wage was raised repeatedly to keep up with inflation, the unemployment rate for black males that age was never under 30 percent for more than 20 consecutive years, from 1971 through 1994. In many of those years, the unemployment rate for black youngsters that age exceeded 40 percent and, for a couple of years, it exceeded 50 percent.I have, at different times, seen in the popular press the argument that the minimum wage results in lower employment. I have also seen proposals for regulation of unpaid internships called into question on the grounds that this would make it hard for prospective interns to gain experience. I am glad that, regarding the minimum wage, Sowell connects the dots here between the immediate problem of higher unemployment and the longer-term issue of inexperience.
The damage is even greater than these statistics might suggest. Most low-wage jobs are entry-level jobs that young people move up out of, after acquiring work experience and a track record that makes them eligible for better jobs. But you can't move up the ladder if you don't get on the ladder. [bold added]
Although I would prefer to see economists at least bring up the morality of interfering with the rights of adults to enter contracts, we can easily enough start that ball rolling here: If so many who spout leftist pieties were actually serious about helping the poor, they ought to be considering alternatives to policies that have failed for decades now. The fact that they do not ought to give more people pause: If leftists can't be bothered to look at relatively small matters, like how a single policy works, how can they be trusted with bigger things, such as the purpose of government or moral questions?
Many conservatives fall for the temptation to call leftists hypocrites. This may be true, but stopping at that gives leftists a pass they don't deserve on these bigger matters.