Tuesday, December 17, 2013

George Will Leads the Conservative Argument that Raising the Minimum Wage Hurts Low Income Workers

It’s So Nice When Conservatives Are Looking Out for the Low Income Families

With the failure of the federal government to raise the minimum wage, now in real terms lower than it has been in decades, action is turning to states and local governments.  This has horrified conservatives who feel that low income people deserve to be low income people, that they are to be punished for being poor. 

The argument that conservatives make is that no, they are not the enemy of low income workers, they are their friend and are just looking out for their interests.  So Washington Post columnist and Fox News blatherer George Will is now writing about how raising the minimum wage will harm all those low income laborers.

Mr. Will’s thesis is that raising the minimum wage will reduce employment, which is probably true to a very small extent. (Mr. Will relies on a study from the Heritage Foundation for his ‘facts’.  That alone tells you his analysis is bogus.)  Most minimum wage workers are employed in the service industry and are not replaceable.  If they were they would have been.

But there are two very real arguments that easily refute Mr. Will and his ilk.  The first is that the minimum wage has declined in real terms, so if Mr. Will was correct in his economics there should be huge gains in employment amongst those earning minimum wages.  There has not been.  Unemployment rates for those who would be paid the minimum wage if there were even jobs available for them is very high.  So lowering the mnimum wage in real terms has not helped, just as we economists has said it will not and contrary to what conservatives have said.

And the second argument is that if raising the minimum wage is so damaging to low income workers, why have these people not led the fight against it?  There are no attempts, organized or otherwise among those earning minimum wages to stop any increases because it is harmful to them.  Of course Mr. Will would counter by saying that in addition to being poor these people are also stupid and don’t know what is good for them, so they need wise men like George Will to set them straight.

Mr. Will, like all prominent conservatives is a highly privileged individual, he has no idea of what it is like to try and survive on the minimum wage.  His only contact with real working poor is probably only the people that clean his house or take care of his lawn.  If he did know them he would know that they are hard working, often holding multiple jobs just to try and survive economically and that they are a lot smarter than the average Washington Post conservative columnist.  How do we know they are smarter than people like George Will?  Well you don’t see them writing the nonsense that he does.

No comments:

Post a Comment