Great quotes on the minimum wage debate

The minimum wage is proven to hurt the Left’s voters, but they advance the argument anyway to demonize their opponents and buy votes. Here are some great responses. Note the racist beginnings. Thanks to Glenn for the list!

Intervention by politicians, judges, or others, in order to impose terms more favorable to one side – minimum wage laws or rent control laws, or example – reduces the overlapping set of mutually agreeable terms and, almost invariably, reduces the number of mutually acceptable transactions, as the party disfavored by the intervention makes fewer transactions subsequently.  Countries with generous minimum wage laws, for example, often have higher unemployment rates and longer periods of unemployment than other countries, as employers offer fewer jobs to inexperienced and low-skilled workers, who are typically the least valued and lowest paid – and who are most often priced out of a job by minimum wage laws.

It is not uncommon in European countries with generous minimum wage laws, as well as other worker benefits that employers are mandated to pay for, to have inexperienced younger workers with unemployment rates of 20 percent or more.  Employers are made slightly worse off by having to rearrange their businesses and perhaps pay for more machinery to replace the low-skilled workers whom it is no longer economic to hire.  But those low-skilled, usually younger, workers may be made much worse off by not being able to get jobs as readily, losing both the wages they could earn otherwise and sustaining the perhaps greater loss of not acquiring the work experience that would lead to better jobs and higher pay.

Thomas Sowell, Intellectuals and Society, p.70

If someone has a right, someone else has an obligation.  But the proposed right to a “living wage,” for example, is not based on any obligation agreed to by an employer.  On the contrary, this “right” is cited as a reason why government should force the employer to pay what third parties would like to be paid.

Thomas Sowell, Intellectuals and Society, p.157

Crusaders for a “living wage” or to end “sweatshop labor” in the Third World, for example, may invest great amounts of time and energy promoting those goals but virtually none in scrutinizing the many studies done in countries around the world to discover the actual consequences of minimum wage laws in general or of “living wage” laws in particular.  These consequences have included periods of unemployment, especially for the least skilled and least experienced segments of the population.  Whether one agrees with or disputes these studies, the crucial question here is whether one bothers to read them at all.

Thomas Sowell, Intellectuals and Society, p.181

The last year in which black unemployment was lower than white unemployment – 1930 – was also the last year in which there was no federal minimum wage law.  The Davis-Bacon Act of 1931 was openly advocated by some members of Congress on grounds that it would stop black construction workers from taking jobs from white construction workers by working for less than the union wages of white workers.  Nor was the use of minimum wage laws to deliberately price competing workers out of labor market unique to the Davis-Bacon Act or to the United States.  Similar arguments were made in Canada in the 1920s, where the object was to price Japanese immigrants out of the labor market, and in South Africa in the era of apartheid, to price non-whites out of the labor market.

Any group whose labor is less in demand, whether for lack of skills or for other reasons, is disproportionately priced out of labor markets when there are minimum wage laws, which are usually established in disregard of differences in skills or experience.  It has not been uncommon in Western Europe, for example, for young people to have unemployment rates above 20 percent.

Thomas Sowell, Intellectuals and Society, pp.450-451

Intellectuals give people who have the handicap of poverty the further handicap of a sense of victimhood. They have encouraged the poor to believe that their poverty is caused by the rich — a message which may be a passing annoyance to the rich but a lasting handicap to the poor, who may see less need to make fundamental changes in their own lives that could lift themselves up, instead of focusing their efforts on dragging others down.

Thomas Sowell, Intellectuals and Society, p.544

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27 thoughts on “Great quotes on the minimum wage debate”

  1. Also, in foreign countries where children work, minimum-wage and child-labor laws may seem to help them, and those who push for such laws do so ostensibly for the benefit of the children. And I have no doubt that most of them are well-intentioned, and believe that if children weren’t working, they’d be able to do things like go to school, thus have a better life in the future. However, the family’s economic situation won’t change for the better if children are not allowed to work, since most of the time, it is likely that the children work because of the family’s dire economic situation. Therefore, the need for the children to earn an income is still there, but the ability for them to work legally is not. Then many of the children will likely be forced into prostitution, begging, and other less-than-savory industries, since they aren’t allowed to work at factories and do other honorable and decent work.

    This is another proof of the law of unintended consequences.

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  2. This why many progressives and independents think that the bulk of the conservative world live in a bubble. This is a biased source. It is hard to find objective debate anymore. I spent a large amount of space in that other thread debunking that or at least giving credible, objective, contradicting sources to this piece. However, since they didn’t fit into this blog’s ideology, they were ignored and dismissed. In fact, I just read a reply of it that still holds onto the conservative shill and dismisses the objective rebuttal where there was actual existing evidence from state’s that raised their minimum wage and saw job growth. Conjecture about how this REALLY isn’t the case ensued because we surely can’t have the mature thought of, “Hmm, well maybe I need to rethink this.” OF COURSE NOT! We love the conservative Kool-Aid just a little too much to give it up for the purity of water. No one is interested in learning; we are in the midst of small mindedness. Is it any wonder that both sides are so entrenched in their ideologies? Everyone seems to have the attitude that if it contradicts what they BELIEVE (not talking religion here), it must be wrong.

    Those of us in the middle that just want to have an honest discussion of the facts just find it impossible and attacked. And don’t let me get started in the defending of personal attacks. Some people just can’t help themselves and then have the audacity to rationalize and defend it. It is quite sad and quite small.

    And we wonder why government doesn’t work . . .

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    1. “This is a biased source.”

      That’s a non-argument.

      “We love the conservative Kool-Aid just a little too much to give it up for the purity of water. No one is interested in learning; we are in the midst of small mindedness.”

      You write some peculiar things for a guy who insists that saying, “You . . . “ is a personal attack . . .

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      1. I didn’t use YOU and I didn’t name anyone. If one thinks the shoe fits, then so be it. You know I have tried, Neil. I was hoping it was going to be different here and that the Christian Left was exaggerating about this blog. Plus, it isn’t a personal attack to call into question the bias of a source.

        Sowell IS a biased source. He admits it. I used unbiased sources, Maybe you are right. Perhaps I was a bit harsh. If so, I apologized. But again, I tried.

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    2. Jeff, there is no such thing as an “unbiased” source. Everybody brings his own thoughts, opinions, and worldview to any subject, so the question is, “which bias are we biased by?”. Honest people admit their biases; those who claim to be unbiased are not being honest with themselves.

      Neil may not be right, but he makes a good argument as to why the CBO is not really unbiased; ignoring the counter-argument and just repeating the claim that the CBO is unbiased doesn’t really help. [Providing examples and/or evidence countering the “biased” claim might help.]

      No one is interested in learning; we are in the midst of small mindedness. Is it any wonder that both sides are so entrenched in their ideologies? Everyone seems to have the attitude that if it contradicts what they BELIEVE (not talking religion here), it must be wrong.
      Are you sure that that doesn’t apply to you? Are you willing to look at both sides (not just those which claim a lack of bias), and objectively read both sides of the story, the pros and cons of both sides, the arguments put forth by both, and be willing to change your mind? Are you being openminded enough to change your opinion, if presented with different, opposing, and superior facts?

      For example, you were shown that the minimum wage was actually racist, if not in intent, at least in reality (though I daresay it was racist in intent, as well); are you comfortable with walking in lockstep with racists of old? or are you at least open-minded enough to examine whether what you were told about the racist start of minimum wage was true? Then if it was true — if it was racist in intent or harmed minorities in practice — are you willing to see if such a thing is still occurring today?

      Do you know that the current unemployment rate for people of color is much higher than the rate for whites? and that young black men are hit especially hard? You may think that at least if the minimum wage were higher, then those who were working would at least be better off. That may be true; but what I see is that there are an awful lot of young black men working for $0/hr, which is bound to be worse than working for $7 or $10/hr. At least if people (employers and employees alike) were given a chance, they could offer to work for a low wage — temporarily — then as they improved in skills, and showed themselves worthy, could work up to a better job. [You are aware that most people who start at minimum wage quickly move higher than that, right? Few people stay there, and I daresay that most who do simply lack the gumption to move up in jobs, so why should they earn more, if they refuse to put forth the necessary effort?]

      Here’s a question: if raising the minimum wage helps reduce poverty, why is there still poverty? And another question: if raising the minimum wage to $10/hr is good, why not $20 or $100? You might think that I would respond to these in a typical conservative sound-bite sort of way, and while I have done that in the past (because there is some truth to it), I would like to offer a slightly different perspective: inflation. All other things being equal, inflation is what causes the price of goods to rise, in dollars. Yet what causes inflation? More dollars chasing the same (or fewer) goods. Do you oppose the inflationary policies of the govt — particularly, printing more dollars than is in the treasury? Most leftists generally support these policies, while most conservatives generally oppose them (both parties seem to participate in the increase, so this isn’t a “party-line politics” thing). Ultimately, it hurts the poorest the most.

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      1. Kathy, I wasn’t going to reply to anymore posts here, but since you were civil, I thought I would give it a go. Thank you for that.

        First, let me clarify MY bias. I am an independent. I take things on an issue by issue basis, so yes, I do change my mind from time to time when I see superior arguments based on verifiable facts. I think Neil will vouch for me that I am not a raving liberal. But, I don’t want to make this about me so I will just end this part by saying that my education and profession is centered on this kind of subject matter and I have been given grief by both conservative and liberal camps in the exercise of my job (and personal opinions).

        I have never seen anyone claim that the CBO was biased before. It was created by Congress to give unbiased reports. Sure, when it gives information that one camp doesn’t like, they flap around a little bit, but both sides use it as the official authority when it comes to economics and monetary policy. Of course, you could just say that I am biased so you can’t believe what I am saying about the CBO. Then I might cite other sources that say the same thing and you might claim that THEY are also biased so . . . This line of argument can really get out of hand if you give it its head.

        What really shouldn’t be challenged is the bias of Thomas Sowell. I mean with quotes like, “The most fundamental fact about the ideas of the political left is that they do not work. Therefore we should not be surprised to find the left concentrated in institutions where ideas do not have to work in order to survive.”

        This is kind of an ironic statement since what was put forth here was all theory and no facts with cited sources. I Crying bias is a form of the genetic fallacy. What matters is the arguments. Crying bias is a form of the genetic fallacy. What matters is the arguments in contrast to the facts that are actually measurable when it comes to the states’ economies who raised their minimum wages that I included in my argument.

        Let me try to address your direct questions:

        You asked: “if raising the minimum wage helps reduce poverty, why is there still poverty?”

        Sigh. If vitamin C helps to reduce colds why do people still get colds (even when they take Vitamin C)? Just because something has a positive effect doesn’t mean it is complete cure. In addition, the minimum wage now doesn’t even get a full-time worker out of poverty. That is why there is a push to raise it.

        ” if raising the minimum wage to $10/hr is good, why not $20 or $100? ”

        For the same reason that a 81mg a day of aspirin is good to ward off high blood pressure and heart disease but 200,000mg a day would kill you the first day. And I will take that principle to answer the rest of your paragraph. The economy is a delicate thing that is always in flux. It takes nuances to keep it manageable not hardline, unwavering rules. It depends on the situation That is why the Fed raises interest rates sometimes and lowers them others (I am not defending the Fed, just showing the example of what it tries to do).

        Here is where the discussion turns for me: I want to thank you guys. I have really learned something here. I know it is tempting for you to take that as sarcasm (as it is tempting for me to be very sarcastic), but I am not. I really did learn something here. And this is what I learned:

        I was baffled when you guys questioned the objectivity of the CBO. I was sure that wasn’t going to be an issue of controversy because in the . . . trying not to sound insulting here . . . let’s just say in most places that I have been and had debates, it was something that was obviously mutually accepted. Then I read Neil’s comment about bias, “Crying bias is a form of the genetic fallacy. What matters is the arguments,” With that, a light bulb went on! Now I know why a lot of conservatives live in a bubble. They don’t believe in universal facts. They seem to believe that everyone lives in a bubble so they are loyal to their own. It is quite fascinating! That explains why Karl Rove was going ape when the FoxNews wonks gave Ohio to Obama in the last election. He couldn’t accept it. It was outside the bubble.

        I watch Fox some and the other news channels. Fox is different . . . but that is okay. I like O’Reilly. I don’t accept everything as he says, but I don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. I think it is okay to disagree with someone about some things and agree with others. It is like a purer version of what Neil said, “It is about the arguments.” It is just to sway me, one has to back things up with objectivity and facts. And if one doesn’t believe in objectivity, that is very problematic. I saw on FoxNews a few weeks ago that a pundit said that Obama should be impeached by the way he handled the Ebola thing – that we were doomed to have a pandemic here in the matter of a few weeks because of his failed leadership. The administration operated on medical facts by experts. It didn’t matter. Today, we have no known cases of Ebola in the US, but what is the news in the bubble saying about that and impeachment?

        What is really sad is that it means from this perspective, we can’t have a debate or discussion and learn anything. If someone is arguing outside the conservative bubble, then they are just wrong. Any facts that they have are biased and from the wrong bubble, so they should be dismissed because it isn’t facts from the conservative bubble. So, I guess we are just stuck, yes?

        This is probably my last post here. I don’t really think participating anymore would be very productive for anyone. Do you?

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      2. Didn’t have time to read all that but caught this:

        ” if raising the minimum wage to $10/hr is good, why not $20 or $100? ”

        For the same reason that a 81mg a day of aspirin is good to ward off high blood pressure and heart disease but 200,000mg a day would kill you the first day.

        That’s not a relevant analogy. Giving people more money won’t kill them. The point of the $20/$100 illustration is to highlight how the impacts of the minimum wage increases are negative. Raising wages above what the market demands will lead to less jobs (more automation) or no businesses at all or to increase prices that everyone must pay — including those who just got raises!

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      3. >That’s not a relevant analogy. Giving people more money won’t kill them. The point of the $20/$100 illustration is to highlight how the impacts of the minimum wage increases are negative. Raising wages above what the market demands will lead to less jobs (more automation) or no businesses at all or to increase prices that everyone must pay — including those who just got raises!<<

        No, but it kills business. Again, it is nuanced. Economics just isn't that simple so making simple arguments is pointless.

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      4. Not at all! It demonstrates that there are real impacts from artificially raising wages that the Left ignores.

        Here’s the simplest test for anyone pushing for minimum wage increases: Ask how the feel about illegal immigration. If they don’t understand how that drags down wages — or if they don’t care! — then they are part of the problem. I hope you are the exception. I’ve found that nearly everyone supporting minimum wage increases supports the insane immigration policies of the Left. The only exceptions are the Chamber of Commerce types who are shameful supporters of illegal immigration.

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      5. No it doesn’t. There is a principle there. You don’t shoot a fly with an elephant gun. It is a silly argument. It is like arguing for public prayer in schools. Would you want the left to accuse you of having NOTHING BUT PRAYER in school. No, that would be ridiculous. You would favor an appropriate amount of prayer and still have academic instruction. You can’t have a decent analogy when you use extremes in anything that I can think of.

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      6. Still missing the point. It is a reductio ad absurdum argument, taking your argument to its (il)logical conclusion. $10 is better for the workers with no impact on unemployment? Then why not $11? If $11, then why not $12? And so on.

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      7. One, tone it down if you want to comment here. I’m aware of your passive-aggressive nature.

        Two, I was simply stating the obvious. If you don’t understand issues of causation and correlation I can’t help you.

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      8. Go find one person who will be immediately harmed if you raise his wages.

        I didn’t skirt it, you just don’t know how to take a dignified surrender when it is offered to you.

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      9. The answer is for that there is an appropriate amount. Too much is too much. It is silly. You can have too much of a good thing, yes?

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      1. Yep. Crying bias is a form of the genetic fallacy. What matters is the arguments. It is like the atheists who claim the New Testament authors were biased. Well, duh! If they weren’t Christians they wouldn’t have written it! And I see pro-aborts reflexively dismiss anything opposing their views as biased. Uh, yeah, as if I expect Planned Parenthood to share their audios and videos of them hiding statutory rape and sex trafficking!

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  3. One more thing, who here can stick their heads (just a little bit) out of your ideological bubble and tell me why the states that raised their minimum wage requirement enjoyed job growth? If you can tell me that, then you can understand the nuances of economics.

    CLUE: An answer that denies the job growth in those states is an answer still firmly in the bubble so it doesn’t qualify as a legitimate response. It does qualify for fantasy but that isn’t where we are going here (hopefully).

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    1. If you can’t see that there just “might” be other factors at play then I can’t help you. You remind me of the memes comparing other countries such as Canada with the U.S. as if the demographics and challenges are identical.

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      1. But it isn’t in another country, it is here and everyone here says raising the minimum wage here is a a job killer for sure!

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