Minimum Wage
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"OK, her er en ide, som ingen har tænkt på før. Du ved hvordan arbejdere i USA's fast-food industri organiserer sig lige nu for at kæmpe for en minimumsløn på USD 15/time? Det er dumt. De vil stadig kun skrabe sig igennem på sådan en løn. Så hvorfor ikke gøre det til noget som virkelig ville gøre en forskel? Hvorfor ikke USD 150/time?

"Tænk over det: Med USD 150/timen, ville de kun behøve at arbejde nogle få timer om ugen og tjene de samme penge, som de gør ved at arbejde på fuld tid nu. Eller hvis de fortsætter med at arbejde på fuld tid, så ville de tjene en sekscifret årsløn! Ret hurtigt ville alle være rige!

"Fremragende, er det ikke? Kæmp for USD15? Pffffffffff, det er for slaver. Kæmp for USD 150, det er det, jeg siger!"

Måske tror du, at dette er en parodi på den økonomiske skole, der siger: "Lad os hæve minimumslønnen". Måske du endog tror, at det er en metaparodi på folk, som laver en parodi på Kæmp for USD 15 kampagnen. Men desværre er ingen af delene tilfældet.

Kommentar: Delvist oversat af fra The ugly truth about the minimum wage
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This is the actual, honest-to-goodness "argument" of genuine economic illiterates like "journalist" Matthew Yglesias, who dropped these gems on the Twittersphere last week:

Excuse me? Could you repeat that?

"Let the Fed figure out how to make it work."

"Nobody would lose their jobs."

"You'd have a big burst of inflation and we'd be better off for it."


Now, to be fair, Yglesias is rather notorious for his guerilla gorilla journalism approach of throwing a whole bunch of steaming crap at Twitter and then deleting the turds that don't stick, so take his latest droppings with a grain of salt. But the sad thing is that, as much as this line of reasoning has become the go-to reductio ad absurdum to reveal the economic stupidity of the Fight for $15 movement, it is still unironically put forward by some of that movement's proponents as a legitimate idea.

It's heartening that some of the responses on Twitter have accurately identified various parts of this insanity:


But for those who prefer their economics to come from economists rather than social media, you're in luck. A brand new paper from a University of Washington team studying the effects of Seattle's minimum wage laws has just been published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Unlike the previous literature on the minimum wage laws (the ones that earnest socialists like to cite when arguing for the minimum wage hike), this study separated out low-wage workers from the general working population. In so doing, they found that Seattle's recent minimum wage hike from $11/hr in 2015 to $13/hour last year "reduced hours worked in low-wage jobs by around 9 percent, while hourly wages in such jobs increased by around 3 percent." The net result? "Consequently, total payroll fell for such jobs, implying that the minimum wage ordinance lowered low-wage employees' earnings by an average of $125 per month in 2016." In other words, the very poorest of the poor were made poorer by a significant chunk because loving central planners had attempted to "help them out."

But wait, it gets worse!

A new working paper from a team of Harvard researchers found that not only do minimum wage increases negatively affect the earnings of the poorest workers, they also specifically hurt low-end restaurants that cater to those very working poor, while leaving unaffected the high-end restaurants frequented by wealthy patrons. Specifically:
"Our point estimates suggest that a one dollar increase in the minimum wage leads to a 14% increase in the likelihood of exit [i.e. closure] for a 3.5-star restaurant (which is the median rating) but has no discernible impact for a 5-star restaurant (on a 1 to 5 star scale)."
That the minimum wage laws in fact end up hurting the poorest of the working poor and the humblest of small businesses should be no surprise to those with a modicum of economic understanding or historical context. Indeed, government intervention in the market is always and without fail used to prop up mega-corporations and the already-wealthy at the expense of local mom-and-pops and their low-wage employees.
Corporate American Flag
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This was true when the VP of the largest healthcare insurance company in the US drafted Obamacare in order to insure the market dominance of the healthcare insurance giants.

It was true when the major meatpackers conspired to pass the Federal Meat Inspection Act in order to protect their oligopoly from small business competition.

It was true when the Morgan and Rockefeller banking interests met on Jekyll Island to conspire in the drafting of what was to become the Federal Reserve Act, which lent an air of governmental legitimacy to their banking cartel and insured that small financial institutions that were not part of their clique could never compete.

And it's still true when minimum wage laws are passed, forcing mom-and-pops out of business, lowering the wages of the working poor, and further cementing the market share of the corporate mega-chains. Adding extra salt to the wounds of those who are fighting for $15, those corporate mega-chains are increasingly turning to a 21st-century option for ridding themselves of the low-wage worker problem once-and-for-all: automation.

We don't have to speculate about this point or engage in complex statistical analysis. It's right there in black and white. "Last year was tough — 5 percent wage inflation," lamented Wendy's chief operating officer, Bob Wright, during a presentation to investors and analysts earlier this year. He went on to note that 2017 looks just as difficult, with a further 4 percent wage inflation expected. The answer? Who needs burger flippers when you've got robots! Wendy's will install self-ordering kiosks in 1,000 of its stores by the end of the year, allowing it to trim dozens of more hours from the time cards of its minimum-wage workers. This is on top of the 31 hours per restaurant that Wendy's has already managed to cut from its payroll since it began belt tightening in response to the minimum-wage hikes last year.

Wendy's isn't alone, of course. The former CEO of McDonald's USA suggested last year that the golden arches would follow suit (although the current CEO denies this). Indeed, the automation trend is taking off in every sector and industry, from industrial workers to life insurance accountants.

But we still haven't reached the very worst part of this whole scam. The worst part is that while almost everyone who advocates for the minimum-wage hikes today is under the misguided view that they are helping the poorest of the poor, the progressive progenitors of the minimum-wage idea in the early 20th century advocated for it specifically because they wanted to hurt the poor—by making them even poorer.

No, you didn't read that sentence incorrectly.

As economic historian Thomas C. Leonard noted in "Retrospectives: Eugenics and Economics in the Progressive Era," a study published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives in 2005, the fact that minimum-wage laws actually increase unemployment among poor, low-wage workers was perfectly well understood by the turn-of-the-century progressive reformers who advocated for them. More than that, the fact that they increase unemployment was actually seen as a key feature of those laws. As Leonard explains:
"Progressive economists, like their neoclassical critics, believed that binding minimum wages would cause job losses. However, the progressive economists also believed that the job loss induced by minimum wages was a social benefit, as it performed the eugenic service [of] ridding the labor force of the 'unemployable.' Sidney and Beatrice Webb put it plainly: 'With regard to certain sections of the population [the 'unemployable'], this unemployment is not a mark of social disease, but actually of social health.'

'[O]f all ways of dealing with these unfortunate parasites,' Sidney Webb opined in the Journal of Political Economy, 'the most ruinous to the community is to allow them to unrestrainedly compete as wage earners.' A minimum wage was seen to operate eugenically through two channels: by deterring prospective immigrants and also by removing from employment the 'unemployable,' who, thus identified, could be, for example, segregated in rural communities or sterilized."
Did you catch that? By the logic of eugenics—the true religion of the progressives and their ilk—the poor must be made completely unemployable so they can be made wards of the state, segregated, and ultimately sterilized. After all, they had committed the crime of being born with "inferior genes"—or, in the pseudoscientific gobbledygook of that era, with "defective protoplasm." Minimum-wage laws were actually designed to keep the poor out of the work force specifically so they would be at the mercy of the eugenicists.
Free Soup
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As shocking as this philosophy may be to our modern sensibilities, living as we do in an era where eugenical ideas have gone out of fashion and must now be masked by a veneer of kindness and good intentions, the black-and-white statements of the early minimum-wage advocates leaves no doubt what these laws were intended to achieve.

Take Henry Rogers Seager, a Columbia economist and president of the American Association for Labor Legislation, who wrote a key paper on the minimum-wage law in 1913. As Leonard relates in his "Retrospectives" article:
"Seager wrote: 'The operation of the minimum wage requirement would merely extend the definition of defectives to embrace all individuals, who even after having received special training, remain incapable of adequate self-support.' Seager made clear what should happen to those who, even after remedial training, could not earn the legal minimum: 'If we are to maintain a race that is to be made of up of capable, efficient and independent individuals and family groups we must courageously cut off lines of heredity that have been proved to be undesirable by isolation or sterilization...'."
Or take Woodrow Wilson's Commissioner of Labor Statistics, a Princeton economist by the unlikely name of Royal Meeker. Of him, Leonard notes:
"Meeker preferred a wage floor because it would disemploy unfit workers and thereby enable their culling from the work force. 'It is much better to enact a minimum-wage law even if it deprives these unfortunates of work,' argued Meeker. 'Better that the state should support the inefficient wholly and prevent the multiplication of the breed than subsidize incompetence and unthrift, enabling them to bring forth more of their kind.'"
This is the real history of the motive behind the fight for the minimum-wage—a history not even known, let alone understood or acknowledged, by the well-meaning dupes of the crypto-eugenic, centrally-planned technocratic slave state of our era. The entire point of the minimum wage—originally made explicitly, now implicitly—has always been to remove the poorest people from the labor pool in order to better mark them out for sterilization (or today, abortion) and, ultimately, elimination.

Think about this history the next time your socialist collectivist friends preach the morality of the Fight For $15 movement and lecture you on how people who don't agree with their virtuous vision (read: their economic idiocy) must not care about the poor. The truth is (as always) the exact opposite of the mainstream consensus.