Monday, August 14, 2006

Is it Christian to Support Increasing the Minimum Wage?

Maybe, maybe not, though a group of lefties will be making the claim from a pulpit near you.

Unlike abortion, there’s no clear moral component directly associated with wage levels. The general premise is that increasing the minimum wage will mitigate poverty, a goal with a clearly positive moral component.

As a social issue, there’s no controversy over the desirability of eliminating poverty. One rarely hears of a politician of any stripe expounding upon the need to have more poor people. Well, except for the hold over Marxists who are awaiting the arrival of the reserve army of the unemployed…

Essentially, the real argument is over which policies will actually work to reduce poverty, and increase real wages. This is a technological argument, rather than a moral one. The key question: does the policy achieve the intended result?

(side note to philosophy majors: I recognize that both means as well as ends can have varying degrees of moral consequence.)

One of the self generated curses of economics was the impact of giving different names for the prices paid to things: profit, interest, rent, wage. All of these are simply terms for different prices. Wages are like any other price; if the price (wage) is artificially increased, less labor will be demanded. Translated: fewer low end jobs.

Essentially, real increases in the minimum wage cause unemployment among the least skilled and productive members of society. In many cases, this boils down to minority teens, already victimized by our lack of attention to basics in public education.

Advocating a policy that deliberately throws poor minorities out of work and eliminates ‘starter jobs’ doesn’t sound very Christian, now does it? But in the liberal world where only good intentions, and not the effects of the policy count, it’s a winner.

A good bit on who gets paid minimum wage is here.

As usual, Walter Williams chips in on the issue.