Thomas Sowell

 Conversely, price controls imply chronic surpluses or shortages -- depending on whether price controls keep prices from falling to the level they would reach under supply and demand or keep them from rising to that level.

 Controls that keep prices from falling to the level they would reach in response to supply and demand include not only agricultural price supports like those in India but also minimum wage laws, which are equally common in countries around the world.

 Just as an artificially high price for wheat set by the government leads to a chronic surplus of wheat, so an artificially high price for labor set by the government leads to a surplus of labor -- better known as unemployment.

 Since all workers are not the same, this unemployment is concentrated among the less skilled and less experienced workers. Many of them are simply priced out of a job.

 In the United States, for example, the highest unemployment rates are almost invariably among black teenagers. But this was not always the case.

 Although the federal minimum wage law was passed in 1938, wartime inflation during the Second World War meant that the minimum wage law had no major effect until a new round of increases in the minimum wage level began in 1950. Unemployment rates among black teenagers before then were a fraction of what they are today -- and no higher than among white teenagers.

 The time is long overdue for schools of journalism to start teaching economics. It would eliminate much of the nonsense and hysteria in the media, and with it perhaps some of the demagoguery in politics.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate