Walter E. Williams

Teenagers tend to be low skilled. They lack the experience, knowledge and maturity of adults. That means they will be the primary victims of a minimum wage law. But why are black teens more heavily impacted than white teens? Black teens are far more likely to come from broken homes and attend some of the worst schools in the nation. Therefore, a law that discriminates against the employment of low-skilled workers will have a greater impact on black workers. Moreover, the minimum wage subsidizes racial discrimination. After all, if you must pay $7.25 an hour to whomever you hire, you might as well hire people you like the most, even if they are of identical skill.

The little bit of money a kid could earn after school and on the weekends is not nearly as important as the other benefits from early work experiences. Any kind of job, paying any wage, teaches a youngster that he must be on time, respect supervisors, develop good work habits, plus there's the self-esteem and pride that comes from being at least financially semi-independent. Early work experiences benefit any kid but are far more important for kids from broken homes, who reside in crime-ridden neighborhoods and attend rotten schools. If they are to learn anything that will make them a more valuable employee in the future, it will have to come from work; they won't learn it at home or in the schools. For Congress to enact higher and higher minimum wages, to benefit their union supporters, is shameful and cruel.


Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
 
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