Don’t Protest Minimum Wage, Abolish It

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In his inaugural address Thomas Jefferson cautioned Americans to “…not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned” [1]. Jefferson was talking about government staying out of the affairs of industry, adding that a wise government would only “restrain men from injuring one another” [2]. Think about that when you hear about today’s protests designed to compel Congress to raise the “minimum wage” to $10.10 per hour [3]. Fast food workers are supposed to stage demonstrations today in 100 cities including the Big Easy, oh what idle, misspent time.

Most of us aged citizens can look back on the day when we once toiled for minimum wage. In the 9th grade I had 3 jobs that paid me minimum wage. By the time I was a junior I had none but I still had 2 jobs. Learning those business, being enthusiastic about them and working beyond what was asked of me netted those wage increases. In other words, I used the minimum wage as an entry into those businesses not as a final outcome. It is similar ambition that elevates many minimum wage employees into management in the same companies and that’s how the wage should be viewed. Let’s pretend there was no minimum wage in 1977. I still would have taken those jobs for whatever was offered and if business were profit and customer satisfaction driven,I think the results would have been the same.

Advocates of minimum wage cannot deny that their “increasing the wage increases employment” argument is demolished by empirical data. Study after study bears this out but there’s an even more compelling reason to abolish the wage altogether: the minimum wage is an impediment to full employment. The philosopher Ludwig von Mises wrote. “Real wage rates can rise only to the extent that… capital becomes more plentiful” [4]. And how do we increase capital? Jefferson answered that in 1801: stop taxing it.

2. Ibid