re: The Racist New Deal

Email Print

In the early 80s Tom Rustici was an undergraduate student of mine at George Mason who wrote a good paper on the history of the minimum wage. He dug up quotes by various congressional supporters of the minimum wage law who came right out and said that they wanted such a law because black workers were competing with higher-priced, white union labor. They understood that the minimum wage law would price these black workers out of jobs, and they publicly stated so. The law was especially devastating to workers of all races in the Mississippi Delta region.

Rustici also found that the law was part of the continued plundering of the South by the New England Yankees. The South was finally developing a competitive (with the North) manufacturing base, and because wages were lower there, some southern manufacturers were underpricing northern competitors. Unionized Northern manufacterers were very explicit in advocating a minimum wage law because it would raise the labor costs of their southern competitors, not because of any concern about poverty.

I helped Rustici get the paper published in the Cato Journal, somewhere around 1984 or 85. It contains some of those juicy quotes. (Here’s the URL, courtesy of Gil Gillory:

Walter Williams also published a book entitled “South Africa’s War Against Capitalism,” which describes how white unions were behind the Apartheid laws which, just like so much New Deal legislation, was anti-black. The South African unions were very communistic (aren’t they all?) and chanted the slogan, “Workers of the World Unite, Keep South Africa White.” Much of American labor legislation is quite similar in effect to the old Apartheid laws of South Africa.

2:56 pm on September 28, 2004