Economic Liberties: Minimum Wage

There are two obvious rationales to either justify or not justify minimum wage laws. One rationale holds that there is a bare minimum amount that someone can be paid for their services. The other rationale, explains that all traded services are mutual agreements. If a worker does not like their wages, they may quit the job; No man deserves a certain amount of wealth. On a purely ideological basis, minimum wage laws yield no advantage, on a practical basis, history agrees.

As Mike Patton analyzes, the increase in minimum wage does not add a significant amount of purchasing power to the economy. Thus, minimum wage laws should be scrutinized to evaluate how well they do what they are supposed to do. Do they support the worker? A person should be paid what their services are worth. No claim can be made over a certain amount of wealth that inherently belongs to every individual. The individual must trade services, or generate wealth because wealth does not inherently exist. Minimum wage does not support the poor, instead, it hurts the poor. As Ron Paul argued on the floor of Congress, “Economic principles dictate that when government imposes a minimum wage rate above the market wage rate, it creates a surplus “wedge” between the supply of labor and the demand for labor, leading to an increase in unemployment.” This statement proves itself through logic and historical interpretation.

As Congressman Paul also points out, “For example, where formerly an employer had the option of hiring three unskilled workers at $5 per hour or one skilled worker at $16 per hour, a minimum wage of $6 suddenly leaves the employer only the choice of the skilled worker at an additional cost of $1 per hour. I would ask my colleagues if the minimum wage is the means to prosperity, why stop at $6.65–why not $50, $75, or $100 per hour?” (Singleton) The sheer logic is flawless, a required minimum wage leads to inevitable inflation and may cause certain businessmen to hire fewer employees in areas where they may before have hired more. It is commonly known that inflation has been rampant ever since the depression of 1932, and the creation of minimum wage laws. One may recall, that when Arizona voted to raise its minimum wage in 2016, prices raised as well. Businesses that already make narrow profit margins either had to increase prices by a few dollars or shutdown. The minimum wage has existed since the early-mid 1900’s and today it is required to use $23.70 to purchase anything that used to be purchased for a dollar in 1913. Minimum wage, while not the sole cause of depressions, harms businesses, and perhaps gives the specialist an unfair advantage.

The right to free employment, or lack of regulation, could really fall under the economic liberty of free trade. However, since Minimum Wage laws are continually on the rise, the right to not have wage regulation has become its own right. Minimum wage regulations, not only harm workers, they are unfair to what Ayn Rand calls Americas persecuted minority- big business. I hope this nation can abandon the inflationary cycle, and realize that freedom is also economic.

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