Conservatives around the Internet are having a chuckle at University of California professor Asantha Cooray, who appears only just now to have discovered that a massive increase in the minimum wage will mean he must hire fewer undergraduate researchers. As with the progressives at the San Francisco comic book store I mentioned in May, the sentiment is always “I support this increase in the minimum wage, but…”
Many themes seem to be coming together this week. Such reactions are akin to what one expects from somebody who has been or is in the process of being scammed, albeit a different progressive-Democrat scam than pension funds. The victim still wants to affirm whatever the lure was for the con — “Of course, I want to help people.” — while having difficulty reconciling that good intention with the clear damage of the policy.
As with Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s intention to “cap” healthcare spending, the government can’t simply declare an outcome. Changing an effect by fiat doesn’t relieve the undesirable underlying causes. In fact, it’s a safe bet it will exacerbate them. Economist Thomas Sowell gives an example:
Many, if not most, people who are zealous advocates of minimum-wage laws, for example, never check to see if these laws do more good by raising some workers’ wages than harm by preventing many young and inexperienced workers from finding jobs.
One of my own pieces of good fortune, when I left home at age 17, was that the unemployment rate for black 17-year-old males was in single digits that year — for the last time. The minimum-wage law was ten years old, and the wage specified in that law was now so low that it was irrelevant, after years of inflation. It was the same as if there were no minimum-wage law.
Liberals, of course, wanted the minimum wage raised, to keep up with inflation. The result was that, ten years later, the unemployment rate for black 17-year-old males was 27.5 percent — and it has never been less than 20 percent in all the years since then.
If the problem is that business cannot or will not pay a particular demographic group a higher wage, imposing a higher minimum won’t change the objective value of the job being done or eliminate the bias. It will, however, reduce the number of low-end jobs that employers can fill and draw people who were voluntarily doing more or harder work in order to make more money toward the minimum wage jobs. The gap from the disadvantaged group to the available jobs therefore increases. That’s especially true if progressives at the same time raise barriers to entry, like licensing and insurance requirements.
From here, progressives do not learn their lesson and reverse course. Rather, they provide subsidies to the demographic group (necessitating taxes taken out of the productive economy) and implement laws designed to seek out and eliminate real or even coincidental bias. The real effect of these steps is to increase the cost of living, squash innovation, make it more difficult to start business and provide jobs, and whittle away our freedom, to boot.
Once again, being so predictable, this begins to have the air of an intentional attack on our social and economic system in order to increase progressives’ power and ensure electoral victory for the party of party favors. We must begin educating people.