Thomas Sowell

Thank heaven there were no busybodies to prevent me from working more hours than they thought I should.

There was a minimum wage law, but this was 1949 and the wages set by the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 had been rendered meaningless by years of inflation. In the absence of an effective minimum wage law, unemployment among black teenagers in the recession year of 1949 was a fraction of what it would be in even the most prosperous years of the 1960s and beyond.

As the morally anointed busybodies raised the minimum wage rate, beginning in the 1950s, black teenage unemployment skyrocketed. We have now become so used to tragically high rates of unemployment among this group that many people have no idea that things were not always like that, much less that policies of the busybody left had such catastrophic consequences.

I don't know what I would have done if such busybody policies had been in effect back in 1949, and prevented me from finding a job before my last dollar ran out.

My personal experience is just one small example of what it is like when your options are very limited. The prosperous busybodies of the left are constantly promoting policies which reduce the existing options of poor people even more.

It would never occur to the busybodies that multinational corporations are expanding the options of the poor in third world countries, while busybody policies are contracting their options.

Wages paid by multinational corporations in poor countries are typically much higher than wages paid by local employers. Moreover, the experience that employees get working in modern companies make them more valuable workers and have led in China, for example, to wages rising by double-digit percentages annually.

Nothing is easier for people with degrees to imagine that they know better than the poor and uneducated. But, as someone once said, "A fool can put on his coat better than a wise man can put it on for him."

Thomas Sowell

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

Creators Syndicate