Free Markets, Free People
You may find this interesting … I did. The New York Times editorialized about the minimum wage on the 12th of February. Unsurprisingly, they’re for raising it:
New York is an expensive place to live, and unaffordable for workers struggling on $7.25 an hour, the federal minimum wage. Nineteen other states, recognizing that the federal minimum is too low for survival, even with food stamps or other government assistance, have increased their minimum above that level. Lawmakers in Massachusetts raised it to $8 an hour. Connecticut’s is $8.25, and it is $9.04 an hour in Washington State.
It is time for New York to raise its minimum wage enough to help more than 600,000 struggling workers. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is vigorously pushing a bill to raise the minimum to $8.50 an hour immediately and to adjust it each year for inflation. This should not be a controversial measure.
Want to know what would be a controversial measure, at least as far as the NYT would be concerned? George Mason University economics professor Donald J. Boudreaux (Café Hayek) answers the Times:
In the same spirit of demanding that government improve people’s economic well-being simply by ordering that people be paid more, allow me to make a similar plea on your behalf.
The newspaper business today is in difficult straits. So I hereby call upon the legislature in Albany to force you and other newspapers in New York to raise your subscription and advertising rates by 17.2 percent (the same percentage raise that you want to force low-skilled workers to demand from their employers). Voila! If your economic theory is correct, your profits will rise. And the magnitude of these higher profits, we can assume (just as you assume in the case of low-skilled workers), will be greater than any negative consequences that might be unleashed by such legislative interference in your ability to determine the terms on which you sell your services.
I. Loved. That. Answer.
It is the perfect comeback to those who would use the force of government to arbitrarily raise wages and commit your money to their priorities. As with most things, they’d never stand for you doing the same to them. Boudreaux’s answer highlights that in spades. It’s perfect. And he challenges them with “if your economic theory is correct …”. I laughed out loud reading that.
Oh, and we demand that the NYT adjust their subscription and advertising rates each year for inflation.
That shouldn’t be a controversial measure, should it?
You can hear the huffing and puffing in the NYT boardroom from here.
[HT: Villainous Company]
Hungry enough to tax minimum wage employees for their “free” (or reduced cost) restaurant meals in Michigan:
Although it may be “free,” that’s not stopping some legislators from attempting to tax it. State Rep. Mark Meadows, D-East Lansing, has introduced House Bill 6214, which would tax free meals employees get while working at restaurants and food establishments.
Can anyone think of a better example of a tax which would hit those that can afford it least? One of the few benefits of working what is usually a minimum wage job is the server or worker is allowed one free or reduced cost meal a day. When working for the wages the restaurant industry usually pays – especially in fast food establishments, that helps a bit.
Making them pay the sales tax on the meal probably won’t break them, but it is a direct tax on what Democrats always call “the working poor”. The party that contends they’re the champions of this class are taking a run at squeezing a few more pennies out of their pocket – at least in Michigan.
It also places another collection and book keeping demand on the business. That isn’t “free” either.
Michigan, of course, is a state in which government has essentially failed, is significantly in debt and is looking for any sort of revenue it can scare up.
What’s next, taxing the dead for the privilege of being buried in the state?
For new readers, the title is what the shortened “QandO” stands for.
- I thought one of the things the Obama administration was promising it wouldn’t do was use signing statements to ignore the law? Apparently not.
- It would appear that a witch-hunt for “extremists” in the military is building. First we had the DHS warning claiming veterans might be recruited by right-wing extremist organizations. Then Alcee Hastings proposes law (a law already on the books, btw) to prohibit “extremists” from joining the military. Now the Southern Poverty Law Center is asking Congress to investigate the military based on a couple of postings it found on a suspect website. The premise, of course, is because we now have a black Democratic president, there is more of a threat from such extremists who might be in the military.
- Government’s attempt to regulate every aspect of your life takes another step in that direction, but in an unexpected area – licensing yoga teachers. Of course, government knows so much about yoga to begin with. In fact, all this will do is add cost and paperwork to something which is at the moment, self-regulated by the market. What it will do for yoga is present an government imposed bar to entry. And, of course, create another revenue stream where none previously existed.
- Electric cars? The panacea? Not according to the Government Accounting Office which claims, at best, they’d reduce CO2 emissions by 4 – 5% but would see that negated by increased travel because users would drive more believing their use isn’t a threat to the environment. And then there’s the lithium problem.
- Does it bother anyone else that Obama’s White House science adviser (John Holdren) has advocated forced abortions, involuntary sterilization, and government seizing the children of single mothers and giving them to couples to raise? And then there’s Ruth Bader Ginzburg.
- David Brooks sat through an entire dinner with a Republican Senator’s hand on his inner thigh? Really? Why? And what does that say about David Brooks?
- Corporations which have taken taxpayer money are on notice not to book meetings at fancy resorts. But government (which exists on nothing but taxpayer money)? No problem.
- Mark Steyn wonders if the era of “soft despotism” has begun here? It’s a good description of what is going on I think. For the record, Obama isn’t the initiator of it, he’s just an accelerant. The only problem with “soft despotism” is it usually turns to the garden-variety hard despotism after a while.
- Timing is everything, isn’t it? In the midst of the recession, the federal minimum wage is scheduled to increase by 70 cents an hour to $7.25 on July 24th. That’ll certainly help the recovery and create jobs, won’t it?
I’ll add more as I find them – check back throughout the day.
Honduras is going through a rather large spike in kidnappings. From 5 in 2005 to 121 in 2008. In an attempt to understand this rise in kidnappings, The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), part of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security of the U.S. Department of State, was sure that economic conditions had most likely driven the spike. But what specifically was likely to have caused it? Apparently an increase in the minimum wage:
In January, Honduran President Manuel Zelaya increased the minimum wage 60 percent, raising monthly wages from US$ 181 to $289. As a result, an estimated 15,000 people have been laid off in urban areas. This number is expected to steadily increase as businesses cannot afford the new mandatory wages. Remittances from Hondurans in the U.S. have also decreased throughout 2008.
Some analysts predict increased crime in Honduras due to citizens unable to find legitimate sources of income. Many unemployed Hondurans could look to kidnapping for ransom in order to obtain large sums of money for a small amount of planning and effort. As the disparity between economic classes continues, wealthy Hondurans or foreigners of affluent appearance conducting business in Honduras could continue to be targeted at a higher rate.
Of course everytime increases are argued against here, those in favor of them tend to wave off the point that raising the wage will cause unemployment among those who can least afford it. Obviously I’m not contending that if we do so here, those laid off will take up kidnapping, but to pretend such rises in minimum wage don’t have any detrimental effect is simply not true – and Honduras provides the case study.