Friday, November 18, 2005

The fallacy of minimum wage

I read an article recently discussing how the Food and Commercial Workers Union hired Paul Blank to spearhead their campaign against Wal-Mart. Until recently Mr. Blank had been the political director for Howard Dean's presidential campaign. We all know how that turned out. ("Yeeeeeaaaarrrrrrrgggggghhhhhhh!!!")

In reference to the anti-Wal-Mart campaign Mr. Blank said, "The average associate at Wal-Mart makes $8.23 an hour. That's not a job that can support a family."

Pardon me, but, Duuuh!

The point that I think advocates of so-called "living wages" and advocates of raising the minimum wage miss is this: not all jobs are meant to support a family. If you want to have a family, then you need to make sure that you have a job that pays considerably more than the minimum wage, ideally with benefits. If you can only earn the minimum wage, then you really have no business starting a family.

Such benighted advocates who ignore basic economics do a grave disservice to those people for whom a job at such wages would be ideal. Take a spouse who is the primary caregiver for his children but would like to earn some extra money while the children are at school. Or a retired senior who just wants to get off the couch and out of the house several days a week. By advocating a higher minimum wage or a "living wage" these so-called advocates (I think they are really suffering a bad case of white guilt and want to assuage their own consciences) depress the demand for labor.

This is simple economics, folks. And I think it's damned irresponsible for Mr. Blank to tell Wal-Mart how much they must pay their associates, and how much those associates should sell their labor for.

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