John Stossel

"Nobody is saying that these interns should go away," Kamenetz added. "What they're saying is a company should put money in their budgets to pay people the minimum wage to work for them, and that is just the basic issue of fairness. If you start working for free, where's it going to end?"

Give me a break. It would end when the interns have the skills to earn market salaries. Minimum-wage law and union rules already killed off apprentice jobs on construction sites. Contractors say: If I must pay high union wages, I'll hire experienced workers. I'd lose money if I hired a kid and helped him learn on the job.

My interns often told me that working -- unpaid -- at WCBS or ABC was the best learning experience of their lives: "I learned more from you than at college, and I didn't have to pay tuition!" It was good for them and good for me.

Kamenetz said, "Studies show that when companies pay their interns, they design the internships better."

Please. A few years ago, my old employer, ABC, started paying our interns. That was good for well-connected students who got internships, but bad for those who were turned down. ABC cut the number of interns by more than half. There's no free lunch.

What's happened to the rights of contract and free association? If student and employer come to an agreement, both expect to benefit or it wouldn't happen. The student is no indentured servant. If the employer "exploits" the student, the student can quit. The contract ought to be nobody's business but theirs.

Butt out, federal bullies. Grown-ups can take care of ourselves.


John Stossel

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at >johnstossel.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. ©Creators Syndicate