Saturday, July 19, 2014

On The Minimum Wage Being A "Racist Law"

Yes, you read that correctly. Willis Hart of the blog Contra O'Reilly is claiming that the minimum wage is "racist".

Willis Hart: A boon to white middle-class teenagers living at home and a death knell to inner-city black youngsters who've dropped out of school. A racist law, in other words. (7/17/2014 AT 11:08pm).

My response? Completely ridiculous and almost 100 percent false. By the way, is it just me, or does anyone else notice how short most of Willis' commentaries are? The reason is because he includes ZERO supporting research (no links, no names, nada). He simply parrots Libertarian think tank authors without saying where the info came from. Most of the time. Sometimes he cites attribution, but most of the time he does not.

The reason is because doing so would make his bunk easier to debunk. And because he is intellectually lazy. All his points of view come back to what would benefit the already wealthy the most. In this case, it is underpaying Black teens by doing away with the minimum wage.

Just how much does Willis want to underpay BLACK teens (and African American male teens, specifically)? Read on for the answer...

Willis Hart: Remember when we used to have teenage kids come out and pump our gas for a couple of bucks an hour? And it wasn't just a job, either, in that when there weren't any customers these kids used to hang out with the mechanics and actually learn stuff. Now they just sit at home and play video games or worse still, get into trouble. (7/18/2014 AT 8:57am).

Only a "couple of bucks an hour"! The mentoring doesn't sound like a bad idea, but what shop owner would allow their mechanics to be distracted in this manner? Anyway, Willis refers to a bygone era. There are no kids pumping gas anymore, and certainly not in the inner cities.

And speaking of a bygone era, what does Willis want to pay, 1960's wages? Has he not heard of something called inflation? Also, another thing Willis has apparently not heard of, is the fact that there is a teen exemption to the minimum wage.

US Department of Labor Website: The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires a minimum of not less than $4.25 per hour for employees under 20 years of age during their first 90 consecutive calendar days of employment with an employer. After 90 days of employment, or when the worker reaches age 20 (whichever comes first), the worker must receive the minimum wage. (Link).

The exemption is 90 days because summer vacation is approximately that long. In other words, what Willis is really saying is that he wants to give young Black men the shaft; not "teens". I don't know about you, but this attitude is what smacks of racism to me, NOT the minimum wage. Opposing the minimum wage smacks of wealth worship. Willis wants to do away with the minimum wage so the plutocrats can screw employees out of decent pay... and keep that pay for themselves.

Of course the rebuttal to this argument is to bring up small business owners, but this argument is a canard. The minimum wage sets a floor. If the larger employers have to pay it then the smaller ones will be able to afford it.

In any case, this entire argument is predicated on the false assumption of the Hartster that the minimum wage is harmful. Which it is NOT. The opposite is actually true.

Center for American Progress: Raising the Minimum Wage Would Help, Not Hurt, Our Economy... A higher minimum wage not only increases workers' incomes - which is sorely needed to boost demand and get the economy going - but it also reduces turnover, cuts the costs that low-road employers impose on taxpayers, and... a significant body of academic research finds that raising the minimum wage does not result in job losses, even during periods when the unemployment rate is high. (Excerpt from a 12/3/2013 article by T. William Lester, David Madland, and Jackie Odum).

Finally, in regards to an "expert" that Willis cites to "prove" that teen unemployment goes up in states that increase the minimum wage... Willis cites Robert P Murphy... who is... wait for it... a Libertarian who is an associated scholar at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and a research fellow with the Independent Institute (another Libertarian think tank).

Robert P Murphy also works at The Institute for Energy Research (IER), which "is a Washington, DC-based non-profit advocacy organization with strong ties to the oil industry", and a senior fellow in business and economic studies at the Pacific Research Institute.

It is worth noting Murphy's business lobby ties, as a 2011 study from economists at the University of California "demonstrates how a body of previous research – one frequently relied on by business lobbyists who oppose minimum wage increases – inaccurately attributes declines in employment to increases in the minimum wage".

Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (excerpt from an article posted by Anne Thompson to the Campaign for America's Future website, regarding a 4/2011 study)... [The study] examined every state and federal minimum wage increase over the past two decades and found that they did not lead to declines in teen employment. Their analysis included an in-depth examination of minimum wage increases during times of high unemployment - including the Great Recession of 2007-2009 - and found that even in these difficult economic periods, increases in the minimum wage did not cause job loss or slow rehiring. (Sylvia Allegretto, Arindrajit Dube, and Michael Reich. 2011. "Do Minimum Wages Really Reduce Teen Employment? Accounting for Heterogeneity and Selectivity in State Panel Data". IRLE Working Paper No. 166-08).

Wikipedia also notes that Robert P. Murphy "has presented an online video class in libertarian anarcho-capitalism [which] is a political philosophy which advocates the elimination of the state in favor of individual sovereignty, private property, and open markets".

Yeah, this dude sounds like a very rational fellow... not! What he is is an example of why Willis doesn't cite sources... because they are usually as biased and nutty as this guy!

OST #23

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