Ho-hum; another day, another “minimum wage” argument, as if there were a giant pot of money hidden away somewhere that could be tapped in the name of “fairness.” Isn’t there?
Democrats are divided on how much to lift the nation’s minimum wage, an issue that has long united the party. Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is pushing to raise the federal wage from its current $7.25 an hour to $15. But budget experts warn such a hike could eliminate millions of U.S. jobs. Many liberals on and off Capitol Hill have embraced the $15 figure, seeing it as an important remedy for addressing the nation’s growing income disparity. Democratic leaders, however, have been reluctant to back it, rallying instead around smaller increases.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) want to push the minimum wage to $12 per hour. President Obama has edged his support to higher levels in recent years, from $9 to $10.10 and now $12. Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential front-runner, backed $15 per hour for New York fast-food workers on Friday but hasn’t specified a wage floor for the nation. The various positions underscore the tightrope party leaders are walking on the minimum wage increase, a concept highly popular among voters.
As anybody with even a rudimentary understanding of economics knows, the real “minimum wage” is $0.00, which the amount I’m willing to pay in a free economy for work that I don’t really need or care to have done. To force me to pay more than that is the mark of a command economy, which means that I am forced to subsidize works that is of little or no real value.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Congress’s official score-keeper, issued a report last year estimating that, while an increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 would hike incomes for roughly 16.5 million workers, it would leave another 500,000 unemployed. A former CBO director said this week that a hike to $15 per hour would eliminate “many more jobs … because it would cut much further into the distribution of wages.”
“The effect is not linear, it rises much faster,” said the ex-CBO chief, who requested anonymity.
I bet he did. Let’s cut to the chase. The Left doesn’t care how many jobs are lost to minimum-wage hikes; in fact, they’re a feature, not a bug. Because the real push here is for a guaranteed minimum income — something, believe it or not, floated in 1969 by the Nixon administration — provided by the dwindling ranks of
suckers private-industry taxpayers who will be forced at gunpoint to pay until the entire country collapses.