Friday, January 7, 2011

High teenage unemployment? There's a four-word solution.

CNN Money reports high unemployment--approaching 25%--among teenagers.

The four-word solution: Eliminate the minimum wage.

There is no economic rationale--zero--for the minimum wage. It exists simply to satisfy those who think it somehow indecent to pay someone below a certain amount--when I entered the workforce, $4.25, but now it's much higher--per hour. But it doesn't merely raise the $5/hour worker's wages, because it doesn't magically increase productivity. Surely, those who keep their positions have higher wages. But as a prohibition on selling one's labor below the minimum, it has been documented to keep low-skilled and low-experience people out of the workforce.

In Arizona, back when voters raised the minimum wage above the Federal rate, it was documented to cause increased unemployment among teenagers and the retarded.

"But would you want to work for below the minimum wage?," advocates of it ask. No, I wouldn't. But of course one wants a high wage. That want cannot be satisfied by fiat; the Left is simply lying when it pretends that there are no tradeoffs. There is no such thing as a "decent" or a "living" wage, only a fair wage, and a fair wage is that which is arrived at by mutual consent. Those who support a high minimum wage--who oppose lowering the minimum wage-- oppose giving people the opportunity to enter or re-enter the workforce and put themselves on the path to a dignified, self-sufficient living.