Oh My: Some People Support A $50 Minimum Wage

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Apr 17, 2015 6:30 PM
Oh My: Some People Support A $50 Minimum Wage

Dan Joseph is on a mission. Who supports a $50/hour minimum wage? What better place to put forward such a bold initiative than in the free speech zone on the sanctified grounds of George Mason University in Virginia.

Now, while Joseph was able to find a few supporters, some students on campus knew that raising the minimum wage will lead to job losses and increased pricing for some goods. One man called the law racist and he’s not the only one. The late economist Milton Freidman described minimum wage laws as the most anti-African-American law on the books, as he explained in his 1966 op-ed for Newsweek:

Does a merchant increase his sales by raising prices? Does higher pay of domestic servants induce more housewives to hire help? The situation is no different for other employers. The higher wage rate decreed by Congress for low-paid workers will raise the cost of the goods that these workers produce—and must discourage sales. It will also induce employers to replace such workers with other workers—either to do the same work or to produce machinery to do the same work or to produce machinery to do the work.

Some workers who already receive wages well above the legal minimum will benefit—because they will face less competition from the unskilled. That is why many unions are strong supporters of higher minimum-wage rates. Some employers and employees in places where wages are already high will benefit because they will face less competition from businessmen who might otherwise invest capital in areas that have large pools of unskilled labor. That is why Northern manufactures and unions, particularly in New England, are the principal sources of political pressure for higher legal minimum-wage rates.

The groups that will be hurt the most are the low-paid and the unskilled.

Women, teen-agers, Negroes and particularly Negro teen-agers, will be especially hard hit. I am convinced that the minimum-wage law is the most anti-Negro law on our statute books—in its effect not its intent. It is a tragic but undoubted legacy of the past—and one we must try to correct—that on the average Negroes have lower skills than whites. Similarly, teen-agers are less skilled than older workers. Both Negroes and teen-agers are only made worse off by discouraging employers from hiring them. On the-job training—the main route whereby the unskilled have become skilled—is thus denied them.

The shockingly high rate of unemployment among teen-age Negro boys is largely a result of the present Federal minimum-wage rate. And unemployment will be boosted still higher by the rise just enacted. Before 1956, unemployment among Negro boys aged 14 to 19 was around 8 to 11 per cent, about the same as among white boys. Within two years after the legal minimum was raised from 75 cents to $1 an hour in 1956, unemployment among Negro boys shot up to 24 per cent and among white boys to 14 per cent.

Nevertheless, Joseph was able to receive more signatures than any other video in which he tried to get folks to support insanely liberal policy initiatives.