Have you read the Op-Ed by Dukakis and Mitchell, the one where they advertize the minimum wage as a deliberate policy for pricing Mexicans out of the labor market? You may be surprised that Democrats don't really give a shît about poor people. I'm not. `Progressives' have been doing this kind of stuff since the early 20th century, when their selling point for minimum wages was to keep women from competing for white men's jobs.
I did actually read that, and I was ready to post excerpts from that article here somewhere. I think they make a great point. Illegal immigrants working for hunger wages don't "take the jobs Americans dont want" - they take the jobs Americans dont want at a hunger wage. To point out that obvious elephant in the room is a good and important thing.
You say that their perspective proves that "Democrats don't really give a shît about poor people". Thats two fallacies in one. First off, Dukakis has suddenly morphed into the "Democrats". I didnt know that he spoke for them. Secondly - a disgust at employers dodging the law and legal labour relations in order to pay people hunger wages doesnt sound like "not giving a **** about poor people" to me. It sounds like opposing the attempts by business to trigger or further a downwards cycle in wages and labour conditions, to squeeze those who already earn the least ever more to max their profits.
The West, too, had immense and painful poverty just seventy, ninety, a hundred years ago. That poverty was eradicated or at least reduced by a decades-long struggle to, one step at a time, put in place decent working wages, decent labour conditions, some employer responsibility for health and disability. Those employers, out of logical business interest, will do what they can to erode that progress - and illegal immigration provides them with the perfect tool. But doing away - or letting employers get away with dodging - those long-fought for defences against structural poverty may benefit individual illegal immigrants in the short term - but in the end victimises everyone. Those immigrants will want their children to benefit from reasonable institutional protections against workplace abuse and exploitation too - so its not necessarily in their interest to let businesses get away with destroying them either.
Basically, I dont buy the alternate narrative (the one you are implying?). That allowing business to hire illegal immigrants at illegal, far-below minimum wages is in actuality a social kind of thing, a redistributive thing - because those illegal immigrants were poorer than the American poor, and the begging wages they work for in the US still make them richer than they were back home. I dont think that allowing business to take away from America's poorest to give to illegal immigrant poor is what it really means to "give a shît about poor people" - that's some sick Robin Hood there. In the old days we would have just called it for what it is - playing the poor off against each other, and the rich smile. Good for Dukakis cs to speak up about it.
Meanwhile, none of that has anything to do with happened in Las Vegas. As you very articulately pointed out in your preceding post, this story is not about whether the state should provide for its people, legal or illegal - its about government actually forbidding individual people to help each other. As you pointed out, that is a wholly different ballgame, and an unambiguously outrageous one.
I dont think that allowing business to take away from America's poorest to give to illegal immigrant poor is what it really means to "give a shît about poor people" - that's some sick Robin Hood there.
The West, too, had immense and painful poverty just seventy, ninety, a hundred years ago. That poverty was eradicated or at least reduced by a decades-long struggle to, one step at a time, put in place decent working wages, decent labour conditions, some employer responsibility for health and disability.
My rationale is not of the Robin Hood kind -- I don't believe that jobs are the workers' to take away from. They are contracts like any other, and if an employer cancels his work contract with John and makes a work contract with Lopez, he isn't taking away from John anything John owns.
Government involvement after 1910 didn't hurt workers, but that's about the best I can say about it.
Thomas wrote:My rationale is not of the Robin Hood kind -- I don't believe that jobs are the workers' to take away from. They are contracts like any other, and if an employer cancels his work contract with John and makes a work contract with Lopez, he isn't taking away from John anything John owns.
The individual job isnt John's. But the legal minimum wage and regulated labour standards are his - and every citizen's.
Before the 1950s, there were no state pensions in Holland. Many old people just went poor - if you were among those who'd always just earned enough to keep living, after retirement you just fell into a hole of poverty or dependence.
In the 1950s, when Labour was in government with the Roman-Catholics, Labour Prime Minister Drees implemented the first, universal state pensions. For decades since, he was lovingly called "Father Drees" for it.
There's a lot more to say about "government involvement after 1910" than that "it didn't hurt".
The way you see it, people have some kind of property right to earn a minimum wage in a minimum quality job. I see it differently. The way I see it, wage floors deprive both the employer and the employee of their freedom of contract, which is a fundamental right.
In the case of minimum wage laws, the libertarian argument has always been that such laws make no economic sense,
The problem, however, is that minimum wage laws are, in large part, not economic measures -- they're sociopolitical measures designed to insure that there is no permanent economic underclass in the country
The problem, however, is that minimum wage laws are, in large part, not economic measures -- they're sociopolitical measures designed to insure that there is no permanent economic underclass in the country (both by raising the wages of those covered by the law and by raising wages in general) and that the costs of social welfare programs are borne, in part, by employers rather than entirely by the state. One can argue, of course, that minimum wage laws don't even achieve these aims, but in dismissing those laws solely because they don't make economic sense, one criticizes them for something they're not designed to do.
minimum wage laws are creating higher levels of unemployment
In fact, the unemployment rate kept steadily falling in exactly the rate it had been - well, ever so slightly faster, actually:
On reflection, I disagree even with your distinction between economic and socio-political effects implications of the minimum wage.
To a first approximation, economists believe that raising the minimum wage has two effects. (1) Some workers get a raise, which their employers pay. (2) Employers find that some jobs are no longer worth doing at the increased minimum wage. They lay off all workers who worked in those jobs, leaving these workers unemployed. The reason most economists don't like the minimum wage is effect #2. (Depending on the economist, they consider effect #1 either a gain or a wash. Accordingly, their opinion of this effect is either indifferent or favorable.) They consider effect #2 a loss for two reasons: (a) workers lose jobs even though employers would pay them a mutually agreeable price to do them. Conversely, (b) employers can't get jobs done even though they could find workers to do them at mutually agreeable terms.
Now what is the socio-political consequence of effect #2? It is to stimulate the rise of an underclass, not to inhibit it. While the proverbial "working poor" do exist, most people who work aren't poor, and most poor people are unemployed. Hence, effect #2 tends to worsen poverty, not to alleviate it. With that in mind, I now contend that the choice you present between economic efficiency and the prevention of an underclass is mostly a false one.
What is throwing me is the term "economic sense." What do you mean by that?
In many ways, minimum wage laws can make perfect economic sense. For instance, as Thomas noted, one of the effects of price controls is the benefit afforded to particular group. In his hypothetical scenario, those who have kept their jobs are now benefiting from the artificially increased wages. So, I'd imagine that they'd argue that minimum wage laws are perfectly sound, both in theory and in practice.
However, those who, because of the minimum wage, lose their jobs or who are hired for fewer hours might disagree.
Of course, there are those who prior to the wage increase abstained from entering the job market; they too should be considered. Some of whom will now likely be enticed into entering the job market by the higher wages. This further increases the unemployment rate. Remember, unemployment is defined by those who are jobless but actively seeking employment (competing for jobs), not simply those who are unemployed. So those who were uninterested in working at a rate of say $5.50/hour might change their attitude and decide to enter into the job market at rate of $7/hour; and since the number of unemployed active job seekers has increased, so too has the rate of unemployment.
People aren't criticizing these laws for something they were or weren't designed to do; that is really insignificant. People are criticizing these laws for what they are actually doing. In this case, minimum wage laws are creating higher levels of unemployment than would have otherwise been without artificial price controls. The goal(s) of enacting minimum wage laws may or may not be the result of a noble endeavor, but it is the result(s) of this law that should be considered.
Jobs at the lower end of the wage scale frequently disappear, regardless of the amount of the wage being offered or demanded.
Although it is a general rule that machines replace human labor only when machines are less costly than human labor, there are intangible costs that make machines more attractive to employers even when human labor is cheap.
Effect #2 doesn't increase poverty if the people who are jobless because of Effect #2 would be only marginally better off if they had jobs at a sub-minimum wage. If Worker descends into poverty because employers have eliminated jobs rather than pay a minimum wage, how much better off is he if he descends into poverty while fully employed at a job that pays a sub-minimum wage?
From the state's point of view, a jobless but complacent underclass, feeding off the state's largesse, is better than an poorly paid and discontented underclass.
Not just the lower end of the wage scale. The coachmen and hoofsmiths of 100 years ago were reasonably well-paid by the standards of their time. Almost all of their jobs are now gone. The same is true of farmers, transcontinental railroaders, and the employees of the thriving ice-cube industry that got crushed by the refrigerator. Technical progress eliminates and creates jobs in all percentiles of the income distribution.
I agree there are intangible costs (and benefits) of hiring a worker. But however intangible, they will be reflected in the wage at which employers are willing to hire. Hence, an economist's supply-and-demand analysis would be the same whether the costs are tangible or not.
It could be anywhere between zero and the market wage -- and because the worker is jobless by his employer's choice, not his own choice, there is no way to know with any greater precision.
What you term "starvation wages" is really an agreed upon wage that is freely entered into by both parties.
By the way, if minimum wage laws are the remedy for starvation, perhaps instituting them if some of the African countries that actually have a starvation problem might alleviate a few of their societal woes. However, I doubt that government implemented price controls will do much, but you may be right- who knows. Also, it is interesting to note that in this country (U.S.) the poor are not starving; in fact, the poor here seem to have obesity problem.
Now, I understand that on the surface it may appear to be heartless to standby and watch your neighbor work his or her hands to the bone just afford the minimum comforts of life, but it's not at all clear that government interference (via min wage or social programs) do anything to curb that scene; in fact, they may cause more unintended problems.
You seem to agree that minimum wage laws do increase unemployment or, at least, lessen employment opportunities (i.e. hours of work offered), but maintain that some social programs should be included to assist those who are injured by the government initiated price control. In effect, you are asking that tax payers bear the cost of the price control. So, now we have: 1.) Workers earning wages above market rate 2.) More people unemployed and/or people working fewer hours 3.) Tax payers footing the financial cost of supporting those injured by the price control on wages. Overall, that hardly seems like a net gain.
Price controls are usually helpful to a few, but always harmful to many. Of course, just how harmful is not always readily seen or obvious. But it is clear that price controls (min wage) do financial harm to some, and that is precisely why Dukakis is asking that they be implemented.
"Illegal immigrants working for hunger wages don't "take the jobs Americans dont want" - they take the jobs Americans dont want at a hunger wage. To point out that obvious elephant in the room is a good and important thing.
These people aren't "taking" anything from "Americans," they are out competing them in the free job market. If Americans don't want to work for "starvation wages" one must wonder how they are meeting their daily caloric needs without any income. Where's the starvation epidemic among Americans? Also, one should ask: how do these "illegals," if they are subsisting on "starvation wages," manage to ingest enough calories to maintain the physical fitness to out compete Americans in the free job market?