I get tired of the perception that labor law is universally beneficial to people selling their labor, and that these laws are solely intended to reduce the ability of rapacious employers to exploit powerless workers. It confuses people to no end when I say that minimum wage laws prevent workers from selling their labor for less than the minimum wage, and is therefore a restriction on every worker's freedom. Supporters of the law say, that's can't be right, it simply must be helping all workers.
But I think anyone who has gone through the experience lately of trying to help their teen get a summer job knows this is not the case. My son would gladly work for free or below minimum wage at any number of jobs to get experience. Unfortunately, he must be paid the same minimum wage as someone with years of experience, and many large corporate chains have simply banned hiring of kids under 18 to avoid liability and labor law hassles associated with hiring teens. The result is an astronomical unemployment rate for teens.
So here is another example, with the Feds cracking down on unpaid internships. This is simply crazy. The government has got to realize that there are useful and valuable things one can trade his labor for (e.g. experience, training) that can't be measured in money.
Of course, you know who is the greatest violator of these internship rules? The organization that requires the longest hours for the least pay (well under minimum wage) for a huge portion of its staff? Why, its the US Congress, but of course they exempt themselves from these laws.
I have an unemployed friend trying to land work in a new field where she has no experience. She's up against experienced applicants. I suggested she offer her services for free as an intern for 3 months in exchange for learning on the job and a letter of recommendation. She told me she didn't think that was legal. I'm appalled to learn she is right! Yet how else is she going to get experience? She can't afford school. Internships are a free education.