Saturday, June 18, 2016

Progressivism and Minimum Wage

Drawn into the stream
Of undefined illusion
Those diamond dreams
They can't disguise the truth
--Level 42

Review of the origins of the minimum wage in the US. The minimum wage grew from the progressive movement over one hundred years ago. Progressivism was grounded in eugenics and social engineering. A primary objective of progressivism was to purify race and social strata in order to attain a more Utopian society.

On the jobs front, the idea was to raise entry barriers on marginal workers by increasing the legal minimum wage that employers could pay to these people. Employer would buy less of this labor as a consequence (ECON 101 as discussed often on these pages), thereby forcing those marginal workers to the sidelines and, hopefully, in the minds of progressives, out of the country.

Today progressives largely refuse to acknowledge the economic reality of less jobs when wages are forced above market. One hundred years ago, it was precisely their understanding of this relationship that motivated progressives to initial their campaign for the minimum wage.

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