It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is,
after all, a specialized discipline and one that most
people consider to be a “dismal science.” But it is
totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous
opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this
state of ignorance.
- Murray Rothbard
Public opinion polls continue to reflect that an overwhelming percentage of Americans support minimum wage laws, including the current effort in Congress to increase the minimum wage. That should put an end to objections that might otherwise be voiced by elitist economists who have an unfair advantage over the rest of us: they understand the causal relationships between governmental policies and their consequences. These mean-spirited academicians will continue to express their heartless sentiments about how the “law of supply and demand” dictates that, when prices are coercively raised above free-market levels, there will be a decrease in demand for the products or services subject to such mandatory increases. Employers will hire fewer employees, and will even discharge many of their marginally-productive workers. This produces more unemployment, particularly among those supposedly intended to benefit from such laws (e.g., entry level and unskilled workers).
Economists will also tell us that minimum wage laws are just a form of price-fixing. But that’s a lie. Price-fixing is what big corporations do, and many have been prosecuted under the anti-trust laws for doing this. “Prices” are what things sell for, while “wages” are what oppressed workers are paid in order to be exploited by the corporations. High prices are what allow corporations to get unjust profits; high wages, on the other hand, permit the working classes to improve the standard of living for themselves and their starving families. (I learned this not from any economics professor, but from a class on “Social Justice” that I took at Boll Weevil State. It was taught by an instructor who had been a labor union organizer, so he should know.)
But why should we pay any attention to economists who think they are smarter than the rest of us? This is supposed to be a “democracy,” isn’t it, and the laws are supposed to represent the will of the people, right? If opinion polls clearly show most Americans favor minimum wage laws, why should this snobbish minority with their “law of supply and demand” be allowed to stand in the way? Congress should repeal the law of supply and demand – just as earlier laws upholding slavery were done away with. At the same time, Congress should repeal the “law of gravity,” which continues to cause airplanes to crash. Perhaps Flight 370 is an example of one plane challenging this antiquated law. Maybe the powers-that-be are so obsessed with this plane’s disappearance because they fear that other planes might follow 370’s example, and try to liberate themselves from a “law” promulgated by another elitist group: scientists.
Congress might be able to find some backbone in the courageous act of the Michigan state senate that freed school-children of the shackles placed on them by mathematicians. In trying to understand the concept “pi,” (i.e., the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter), students have been forced to extend into infinity the number 3.1415926535897. . . . How frustrating this has been for young minds eager for simpler levels of understanding. Circles – at least in Michigan – have been brought to order by a legislative decree dictating that “pi” is “3.14,” no more and no less. Rumor has it that these legislators may next be going after the Pythagorean theorem, a useless bit of trivia that has little relevance for most people other than providing an answer on a quiz show,
As political systems continue to unburden themselves from the harsh consequences of the laws of economics, nature, and mathematics, we may see more “progressive” programs forthcoming. If minimum wage laws continue to generate more unemployment – particularly among the unskilled or lower-skilled members of the workforce – such difficulties might be overcome with some remedial legislation, premised on the same thinking. If teenage unemployment is an unintended consequence of such laws, perhaps the same logic used on behalf of minimum wages could be used to help those sectors of the economy in which unskilled workers tend to be employed. Working as an usher in a movie theater, or flipping hamburgers in a fast-food enterprise, or pumping gas at a service station, are the kinds of jobs in which young people have historically worked and developed some skills. But if such employers are unable – or unwilling – to hire teenagers at a higher wage than they are presently getting, the solution is an obvious one: have Congress establish a system of “minimum prices” for products or services in these areas. If minimum prices for movie theater tickets were set at $15.00, and hamburger prices were fixed at a $10.00 minimum, and the price of gasoline (regular) was legislatively decreed at $8.00 per gallon, everybody benefits, right? Right? The business owners will make even more money with the higher prices, and they can then afford to pay the higher minimum wage to the unskilled teenagers!
Who says us ordinary folk can’t do a better job solving our nation’s problems than all those elitist nay-sayers who don’t understand the power of “the people” to overcome the forces of reality? Someone told me that I might be given consideration for the next Nobel Prize in Economics! In the meantime, watch for me on cable TV channels. I could show up on CNN, MSNBC, or other outlets!
I reluctantly have to end this now, as American Idol is about to start!