Many of you will know that a big impetus for the original minimum wage laws in this country were a racist effort by unions (almost exclusively made up of white workers at the time) to protect white jobs from competition by low-skilled blacks. [note: This is not the only impetus, however. Many of the original minimum wage supporters were not racist at all. However, a large number of the original supporters of the legislation liked it in part because it was seen as sheltering higher skilled white workers from black competition, particularly in northern states experiencing substantial migration of black workers from the deep south]
This week, in the New York Times of all places, Michael Dukakis and Daniel Mitchell return to these same racist roots to justify a substantial hike in the minimum wage. Their logic is that it will protect white workers from competition from immigrant (read: Mexican) labor:
But if we want to reduce illegal immigration, it makes sense to reduce the
abundance of extremely low-paying jobs that fuels it. If we raise the minimum
wage, it's possible some low-end jobs may be lost; but more Americans would also
be willing to work in such jobs, thereby denying them to people who aren't
supposed to be here in the first place
By the way, note that we finally have prominent liberal voices who will acknowledge that raising the minimum wage reduces the number of jobs. Also note that while the authors try to narrow their focus to illegal immigrants, no such narrowing of effect would occur in real life: All low skilled people, legal or illegal in their immigration status, would lose jobs. But for the authors this is OK as long as more brown people than white people lose their jobs. I mean really, that's what they are saying: We like this law because it will preferentially put low-skill people, particularly brown people, out of work. If Rush Limbaugh had said the same thing, there would be a freaking firestorm, but there's the good old NYT lending their editorial page to this sick stuff. Marginal Revolution has more comments along the same lines.
I am sick of the condescension and arrogance that comes with statements like theirs that Americans won't work for the minimum wage. That's ridiculous, because many do, and have good reason to.
Take my company. A number of my workers are paid minimum wage. Am I the great Satan? Why do my employees accept it? Because 99% of my workers are over the age of 70 -- they work slower and are less productive, but I like them because they are reliable. There's no way anyone is going to pay them $15 an hour to run a campground -- for that price, someone younger and faster will be hired, but at or near minimum wage they are great. And they are generally happy to start at minimum wage (plus a place to park their RV for the summer). In fact, I have more discussions with employees trying to get paid less (conflicts with social security and retirement benefits and disability payments) than I have people asking for more.
Granted, my situation is fairly unique. But Michael Dukakis in his infinite wisdom thinks no one under any circumstances should be allowed to accept less than $8 an hour for his labor. What does he know about campgrounds or my employees? Nothing, but he is going to try to override my and my employees' decision-making if he can. Because he knows better.
Maybe Mr. Dukakis can write a note to all my older, slower employees after the new minimum wage passes and explain to them why they should be happier without a job camp-hosting (which most of them love to do, probably more than you like your job) than having to accept a wage that Mr. Dukakis thinks to be too low.
Continue reading ‘This is Sick - Dukakis Advocates Jobs Go To White People First’ »