Liberty And The Minimum Wage


One of the beauties of Liberty is seen by transactions that are consummated by willing buyers and willing sellers of their legal contracts.  But often this beauty is tarnished by government intervention.  As an example, take the minimum wage laws.  If an under-educated and low-skilled worker will accept a job for $10 per hour, and an employer will benefit from hiring that worker, both parties benefit.  But if the laws require the employer to pay workers a minimum wage of $15 per hour, the lower-skilled workers will lose their job opportunities both to higher-skilled workers and to automation.

Furthermore, think of it this way.  In many ways, the greatest threats to civilization today are not global warming or terrorism, but instead they come from youth joblessness.  And that is problem is exacerbated because young people usually are less marketable than older workers.  So minimum wage laws protect jobs for older, more experienced workers.  And they put the young, who often tend to be more hopeless and violent, out of work.  How can young workers climb the economic ladder if they can’t even get onto the first rung?  So minimum wage laws are a mean trick for many young people and, from a security standpoint, for the rest of us as well.  Socially it is far better to have 100 people working for $10 per hour than 65 people working for $15 per hour.  We can, and for many reasons should, have a safety net below which we do not allow anyone to fall, but that should be addressed separately.  The government should let willing buyers and sellers alone, for the benefit of us all.

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President, along with
Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President