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Now compassion means making other people write checks. If you use compulsion to lift someone else’s wallet and arrange a wealth transfer, you get to preen in public, proclaiming your moral superiority and commitment to the common good.
Raising the minimum wage is a particularly inappropriate tactic to win moral brownie points. Companies that hire unskilled workers are performing a public service by employing people who have the most difficult time finding a job. In doing so these firms are providing an opportunity for future gain — two-thirds of minimum wage earners win a salary increase within a year.
But the unfairness of the minimum wage runs deeper. Congress has declared that there is a social interest in raising the wages of the lowest paid in society. Fine. Then society should pay the cost.
Putting the entire burden on employers who disproportionately hire the unskilled is unfair, even, dare one say, immoral. If “we” all want people to earn more, then “we” should do the paying. “We” shouldn’t dump the burden on others.
ONE ALTERNATIVE TO THE MINIMUM wage is the Earned Income Tax Credit. The EITC is essentially a negative income tax, providing money to low-wage workers. The program has problems of its own, including fraud. But it puts the financial burden on all taxpayers, rather than a few employers, and creates no employment disincentives.
Even better would be to fix an educational system that leaves so many people ill-prepared for work in an increasingly technological society. That would empower people to earn more in the marketplace, rather than rely on politicians to increase their wages, subject to the whims of public opinion.
In any case, the minimum wage is no answer to the problem of poverty. It is bad in practice, destroying jobs, especially for the disadvantaged. If we care about the working poor, we should expand rather than shrink employment opportunities.
Finally, government wage-setting is, to coin a phrase, immoral. The minimum wage is the worst sort of feel good legislation. It purports to help those in need while making others pay the bill. Which, alas, is what Congress seems to do best. It is precisely the sort of legislation that principled Republicans at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue should oppose.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?