Star Parker

Michele Bachmann has drawn some media flack about her views on the minimum wage.

She has said that the minimum wage is a bad idea and that getting rid of it would bolster employment.

Despite a considerable body of academic literature and a whole lot of common sense that supports Bachmann’s view, some reporters seem to have a hard time with it.

A Washington Post columnist blogged about a recent exchange between Bachmann and a morning talk show host on this subject with the headline: “Michele Bachmann’s radical position on minimum wage.”

Here we sit today with over 9 percent unemployment, two and half years after enactment of the largest government stimulus spending bill in our nation’s history. There are a million fewer Americans working today than when the stimulus was passed.

Yet, I recall no Washington Post or New York Times headline which read: “Obama’s radical idea to borrow a trillion dollars to create jobs.”

I made the point in my book Uncle Sam’s Plantation, originally published several years before Michele Bachmann arrived in Washington, that the minimum wage, like most government programs targeted to low income Americans, hurts the very communities it purports to help.

By government setting a floor on the wage that an employer is permitted to pay, individuals whose employment value falls below that wage simply will be unemployed.

Rather than generally lifting wages at the bottom end of our work force, which is the supposed objective of the minimum wage, it simply creates unemployment. A wage of $6.50 an hour, 75 cents less than today’s minimum wage, isn’t much, but it’s a lot more than zero.

The last round of federally dictated minimum wage increases occurred just as we entered the last recession. So its perverse effects were magnified.

The minimum wage was increased in three steps from $5.15 an hour before July 2007 to $7.25 an hour in July 2009.

When the first increase occurred in July 2007, black teenage unemployment was at 30 percent, 25 percentage points higher than the then 5 percent national unemployment rate. After the last increase to $7.25 an hour went into effect in July 2009, black teen unemployment reached 50 percent, 40 percentage points higher than the national rate.


Star Parker

Star Parker is founder and president of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, a 501c3 think tank which explores and promotes market based public policy to fight poverty, as well as author of the newly revised Uncle Sam's Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America's Poor and What We Can do About It.