The Minimum Wage: Taking Away The Right To Work
Do you believe that a minority teenager, maybe a high school drop out, with very few job skills, has a right to work? Or do you believe that being low skilled, maybe so low-skilled that you can only command $8 or $9 an hour in the job market, means you should have this right taken away?Oddly enough, for the progressive left, those who claim to be the most compassionate in our society, have adopted the latter position.
In fact, the position that was adopted by the Democratic Party platform this summer argues that anyone whose skills are so low that they can’t command $15 and hour has no right to gainful employment. They argue that any employer who attempts to hire such a person at a rate that is commensurate with his or her skills will be breaking the law and subject to severe penalties.
This is the reality of raising the minimum wage. If you are in favor of a legal hourly minimum wage of $15 you are arguing that a person loses his right to be employed if his skills are not at a level where he can generate at least an equal amount in production for an employer. (It should be noted that you are actually saying more than this since to hire someone for $15 an hour it probably costs an employer about $17 or $18 given Social Security taxes and mandated benefits like, in some cases, health insurance.)
Of course, this is not how the minimum wage is typically described. When raising the minimum wage is discussed we typically hear moralistic platitudes like “no one should be forced to work for less than $15 per hour” or people “deserve to receive a living wage.”
Progressives: “We Won’t Allow You to Work”
But what is never explicitly stated is the implied flip side to these clichés. When the Bernie Sanderses or Hillary Clintons of the world claim that no on should be “forced to work for less than $15 per hour” what they are really saying is that no one should be allowed to work for less than $15 regardless of how poorly they have been educated or how limited their skills. Or when they say that people deserve a living wage they never add the implied follow up which is “or no wage at all.”
In the mind of the typical progressive, there is no relationship between skills and wages.The view seems to be that if a higher minimum wage is mandated that employers will continue to make all of the same hiring decisions that they had been making previously except that the people they employ will be paid more. In some cases, more than a 100 percent more. In this progressive view, a person’s wage is just some arbitrary dollar amount that is forced upon the worker and that without a minimum wage an employer could pay his workers any positive amount above zero and the worker would be forced to take it. It is classic Marxist economics where workers are exploited and are at the mercy of employers. As Marx himself put it, there is very little difference between an employment relationship and a slave relationship.
But in a free and competitive labor market that is not how things work. Competition for labor insures that people are paid according to what economists call the value of their marginal product, which is a fancy way of saying that wages will tend to reflect the value to the employer of the worker’s productivity. If an employer underpays the worker he runs the all to real risk of having that employee leave for another employer who would likely outbid him. – READ MORE