Tuesday, December 16, 2008

You say the Democrats were wrong about minimum wage laws? I'll alert the media.

The Democrats have assembled a pretty good track record over the last 150 years or so. Favoring slavery during the Civil War; creating the massively abused Social Security and Medicare entitlement programs; opposing civil rights legislation; spending billions on Section 8 housing under "Great Society"; undermining Reagan's Peace Through Strength doctrine; "helping" the American auto industry with incredibly onerous regulations; opposing missile defense; opposing every form of energy independence; utilizing lawfare to fight terrorism; claiming welfare reform would lead to mass starvation... well, you get the picture.

To add insult to injury, the MIT Press just published a book by David Neumark and William Wascher, which is the first recent and comprehensive overview of the evidence on the economic effects of minimum wages (hat tip: Ed Morrissey). Their conclusion lays waste to the liberal contention that minimum wages help the poor or underemployed.

Arguing that the usual focus on employment effects is too limiting, they present a broader, empirically based inquiry that will better inform policymakers about the costs and benefits of the minimum wage.

Based on their comprehensive reading of the evidence, Neumark and Wascher argue that minimum wages do not achieve the main goals set forth by their supporters. They reduce employment opportunities for less-skilled workers and tend to reduce their earnings; they are not an effective means of reducing poverty; and they appear to have adverse longer-term effects on wages and earnings, in part by reducing the acquisition of human capital. The authors argue that policymakers should instead look for other tools to raise the wages of low-skill workers and to provide poor families with an acceptable standard of living.

Just to recap, the Democratic Party's incessant cries for increasing minimum wages:
  • reduce employment opportunities
  • reduce earnings
  • do not reduce poverty
  • and have adverse long-term effects on wages and earnings
One of these days the Democrats have got to get a policy position right. I mean, they're due!

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