Friday, October 13, 2006

Hundreds of Economists Say: Raise the Minimum Wage


650 economists cannot be wrong, especially when they are affiliated with institutions as prestigious as Harvard University, Yale University, Princeton University, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Columbia University, University of California – Berkeley, and the AFL-CIO.

My estimate is that this represents maybe one thousand PhDs, if not more. And they all agree:

“We believe that a modest increase in the minimum wage would improve the well-being of low-wage workers and would not have the adverse effects that critics have claimed.”

Indeed!

Of course, there are several flaws here:

1. If a “modest” increase in the minimum wage would be an improvement, then a “gargantuan” increase would be perfection. I do not understand why they have held back from such a common-sense policy prescription.

2. An increase in the minimum wage would not improve the well-being of low-wage workers because such an increase would eradicate low wages, and bring affluence to all. That is, an increase in the minimum wage will benefit newly rich workers.

3. Why do they refer to their opponents as mere “critics” instead of “fascists”, “racists”, and “homophobes”? Anyone who thinks that an increase in wages would have adverse effects is clearly a fascist. How sick is it to think that an increase in wages would result lower the quantity of workers demanded? Let me tell you something: The ruling corporate class needs the working class, and will pay anything to keep them in their employ. Do you really believe that supermarket baggers would be fired if their wages were increased to a fair level? Do you think that bank tellers and telephone operators would be replaced? This is not possible! The fact is that government-set wages and prices (and for that matter, any government regulation whatsoever) cannot possibly have any adverse effects. How could it? One thousand PhDs cannot be wrong!

They also fail to make the moral case for a high minimum wage:

Let’s say that we have a situation where a bloated capitalist swine hires an honest working-class person, and pays her $6 per hour. Of course, she is worth more than that, regardless of her actual job, because $6 an hour is dehumanizing. Clearly, she is worth $50 an hour.

(And let’s set aside other objectionable working conditions, such as daily rapings and beatings, withholding of food, being locked in a gas chamber overnight, etc., etc., etc.)

Now, who is to give her this extra $44 per hour? An uneducated person might say, “Raise taxes, and let the government make up the difference, because it is society’s obligation to pay her a fair wage.” This argument has its appeal (especially the “raise taxes” part), but it is wrong. And it is wrong because the capitalist must be punished because of who he is: A filthy capitalist. The $44 per hour serves two purposes: 1) Giving the working-class slave a fair wage, and 2) Punishing the ruling capitalist class. You do not owe her $44, I do not owe her $44, but you and I have the obligation of ensuring that her capitalist slave-driver pays her because he must be punished.

One PhD will get you an economic theory, but three PhDs will get you insight.

6 comments:

shlemazl said...

There are unimaginably high benefits of a $50/hour minimum wage. Not only will people be taken off benefits, but they will also pay lots of taxes!!! We will all be better off. It's a win-win-win-win-win.

Professor Peter Kurgman, PhD, PhD, PhD said...

Excellent analysis, Mr. Shlemazl! It makes me think that a $500/hour minimum wage would yield even more taxes, as that would push the bulk of minimum wage income into the very highest of tax brackets.

And our poorest and most vulnerable citizens would be making $500 an hour!

This puts me in good spirits. I'll have to correct that, though. Mustn't be happy while the children suffer.

Force Tube Avenue said...

While we're raising workers' minimum wages, let's remember to unionize, too! Allow me to quote a mere single-Phd, who said; "unions create a middle class!"

If so, we have the answer to poverty in North Korea, Africa, and beyond. Unionize everyone, everywhere from Pyongyang to Mogadishu -- declare high wages and end world suffering!

Anonymous said...

Why not just print off more money, and hand it out to the workers?

Professor Peter Kurgman, PhD, PhD, PhD said...

Anonymous -

Yes, printing money is a very effective way of empowering the poor, but it does not specifically target business owners for punishment.

Perhaps the Treasury should print lots of money, give it to the working class, and imprison the ruling class -- including, ultimately, themselves.

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