Thursday, March 29, 2007

Paul McKeever on minimum wage laws

Paul McKeever, employment lawyer and leader of the Freedom Party of Ontario, on the immorality of a mandated increase in the minimum wage:

Oh, but it's for your own good. It's utterly immoral, and you would be sent to prison if we weren't called the government ... on criminal conspiracy charges. However, because we're the government, all the morality is turned upside down, and suddenly evil is good, good is evil, illegal becomes legal and you are a bad bad bad person for daring to choose to cut your neighbours lawn for $5.00 an hour.

It is not your right to tell me what I can do with my labour or how much I have to charge for my labour. And minimum wages laws do exactly that. They tell me how much I can charge for my labour. They don't just tell you as an employer how much you have to pay, they tell you as an employee how much you have to charge. And that is the real nature of the minimum wage.


Anonymous said...

ah good old minimum wage.

without it, what would we do?

a grand experiment in a spiralling desparation where the minimum, oops, dont have one! ahem, *wage* earner brings in so little they become desperate to earn anything and ye olde milton freidman 'market dictates all' effect takes place: down down down goes the average lowest pay regardless of anything else and we wind up with, you know, EXACTLY whats happening now in the sweat shops in L.A., illegal aliens being paid a buck or 2 an hour for 80 hour weeks with no one to turn to.

Thucydides said...

Anonymous is dealing in a bad form of minimum logic. The existence of "sweatshops" is a result of minimum wages, since legitimate employers cannot hire labour for the "minimum" price being mandated by the government.

Once again, the result of government interference in the market is passed off as "market failure".

I will pass on anonymous as an example of "education failure" myself.

Anonymous said...

since legitimate employers cannot hire labour for the "minimum" price being mandated by "

nonsense thucky.

sweatshops exist because the owners find ways of dodging regulation. and create pathways for illegals to find their way into the sweatshops where they get exploited and have nowhere to turn to. give kathy lee gifford a call and ask her to fill you in on the issue of pittance wages elsewhere in the world.

the market WILL drive the wage down down down to 2.50 an hour given the chance.

a minimum wage is merely the last vestigal threadbare safety net for those earning a tiny fraction of those grossly overpaid like the 100,000 club members on dufferin street.

does china have a minimum wage? uh uh. aaaand what do those workers get paid? google it. and then give us a model on how YOU would get anywhere in life for a couple bucks an hour.

Mike said...

Speaking literally and figuratively, none of that is yo' business, Anonymous.

Other peoples' wages aren't yours to set.

Anonymous said...

and why is that mikey?

Im not interested in what a specific individual earns but its a rather larger issue that your simplistic mind can grasp.

shareholders in a company are most interested in the earnings of the management seeing as it is all overhead.

taxpayers in london have an interest in the earnings of the thousands of municipal emplyees.

we all have a stake in the earnings of health care professionals seeing as we pay for it and are affected by the costs and how they affect availability of health services.

etc etc

so how is it you claim OTHER peoples wages are not my concern??? why is it only in the freidman winner take all wages are 'none of your business'.

the minimum wage is the foundation, the first line of defence. the 15 and 16 dollar bracket will fall in if the minimum wage disappears, follwed by the 20 to 30 range.

rich get richer poor get poorer all over again.

not on my watch. individual wages are not mine to set but it is assuredly my business what they are.

they affect us all. that makes it my business.

Thucydides said...

Sweeping straw men from the carpet is so tedious. It has obviously escaped the notice of our lerned anonymous commentator that:

a. Wages rise without government control as demand for labour rises. This phenomena is visible in (wait for it) China, as that nation attempts to become the newest "Workshop of the World". Incidentaly, this also happened in Victorian England, hence the literary allusion.

b. Unskilled labour is cheap because literally anyone can do it. People who really want to increase their earning power get skills so thier time, effort and energy are worth more. Government interference in the labour market distorts the relative value by increasing the price of unskilled labour.

c. The increase in the overall cost of living (the presumptive reason for minimum wages) is due to....the government. Massive overspending by all levels of government drive inflation. This should suggest the obvious solution but I will leave that as an exercise for the reader

Anonymous said...

aw thuckie. you should write a book on economics.

regarding a: wages paid will plummet to pennies on the dollar as labour supply increases. no shortage of the propensity of business owners to exploit. victorian england is NOT the model we need for labour market.

regarding b: skilled vs unskilled: have you taken a poll on the numbers of foreign highly skilled doctors meanering about behind the wheel of a taxicab? skill level is only part of the equation. as far as distorions of the market, you really need to take that up with the entrenched interests of unionboy manangement. as well as those in charge of the skilled trades training. whats that I hear? looming severe shortage of skilled workers? feel free to call any local trade union office and enquire about the number of apprenticeship opportunities.

government long ago handed that one off to organized labour. THEY are the ones doing the distorting.

regarding c: inflation has existed for thousands of years, long long long before governments were in the tax and spend business.

your arguements are simplistic and dog eared. try again after you do your homework.

Mike said...

Anonymous, I'll discard the Gordian knots of overpaid employees of public monopolies, since these are designed to be cash cows -- but of course shareholders have a direct financial interest in the direction of a company, having invested in it.

You did not invest in my business. You're not a shareholder. Where do you get the moral authority to use the police to set the wages over and above the agreements of consenting adults? Other people and their stuff don't belong to you. Let my people go.

Could you explain how it could be that you should get to dictate the terms under which others peacefully trade?

As far as the practical consequences go, the science -- as we are so used to hearing in other more fanciful contexts -- is "settled".

Although it seems intuitively true that bosses set wages, in fact they are not set or raised unilaterally by anyone -- neither by the employer nor the employee. I'm sure that when you were last an employer you were disappointed to find this was true.

An hourly wage can only be increased by one thing: increased productivity over that hour. You can pass laws forcing people to pay no less than a certain amount for a good, but artificial price floors just create a greater supply and a lowered demand.

Despite all good but unwise intentions of raising the standard of living of the presently poor, all a minimum wage can do is make it harder for those whose labour is worth less than the minimum wage to find work. That time that might be spent getting experience leading to one's services becoming more valuable is instead wasted in unemployment. And then, when the newly unemployed go shopping they find increased prices of goods. There is less incentive to those who remain employed to improve their skills for a better paycheque. These bad consequences may be harder to anticipate but as sure as night follows day they will follow the establishment or increase of a minimum wage.

A minimum wage is good in the short run for a few people, and its demagoguing an excellent source of Vitamin Envy, but in the long run it harms everyone and hampers the economic growth that the presently poor need in order to become more financially secure.

It's wrong to arrogantly impose such a thing on others, and moreover, it has harmful opposite effects of the claims in the marketing. There is nothing good about minimum wage.