Carpe Diem

Shocking New York Times editorial: ‘The right minimum wage: $0.00;’ ‘It’s time to put this hoary debate behind us’

It’s hard to believe that this is the same paper that hosts former economist Paul Krugman, but check out this shocking New York Times staff editorial arguing against raising the minimum wage because it’s a fundamentally flawed solution to overcoming poverty:

There’s a virtual consensus among economists that the minimum wage is an idea whose time has passed. Raising the minimum wage by a substantial amount would price working poor people out of the job market. Most important, it would increase unemployment: Raise the legal minimum price of labor above the productivity of the least skilled workers and fewer will be hired.

If a higher minimum means fewer jobs, why does it remain on the agenda of some liberals? A higher minimum would undoubtedly raise the living standard of the majority of low-wage workers who could keep their jobs. That gain, it is argued, would justify the sacrifice of the minority who became unemployable. The argument isn’t convincing. Those at greatest risk from a higher minimum would be young, poor workers, who already face formidable barriers to getting and keeping jobs.

The idea of using a minimum wage to overcome poverty is old, honorable – and fundamentally flawed. It’s time to put this hoary debate behind us, and find a better way to improve the lives of people who work very hard for very little.

MP: Note that this editorial appeared in the New York Times in 1987.

9 thoughts on “Shocking New York Times editorial: ‘The right minimum wage: $0.00;’ ‘It’s time to put this hoary debate behind us’

  1. NYTimes Headline – “Paul Krugman resigns” “Paul Krugman demands that minimum wage be raised to $100 per hour and that he be paid $10 million dollars per month”

    NYTimes – finding rationality and writing sensible editorials? It is an April Fool’s Joke in February.

    Today’s Liberals do not change – unless there is something in it for them that we cannot see – something they will benefit from at the expense of everyone else. It is always win-lose.

  2. no changes of heart in the intervening 25 years?

    here’s the thing – virtually every single industrialized country on the planet has such policies and each one of them not only has economists on staff but over the years the economists have come and gone as governments have – but as far as I know – none of them have rejected the minimum wage idea.

    How can that many economists around the world over multiple changed governments be wrong?

    I mean we end up with this concept that “economists agree” that the minimum wage is bad but none of them seem to be the ones that advise all these countries…. for the last 50 years… so what gives?

  3. ” find a better way to improve the lives of people who work very hard for very little.”

    It’s easy, take money away from “rich” people that clip coupons for a living and give it to the people who work very hard.

    • re: Jared B and his studies

      WHAT! you’re actually going to use real facts and data to try to refute ideological blather…err dogma? !!!!

      OUTRAGE!!!! BLASPHEMY!!!! the world is bound to end soon now!

    • It really doesn’t matter if raising the minimum wage (or having one at all) enables dishwashers to have cell phone contracts or landscape laborers to have premium cable or janitors to drink Sam Adams instead of Falstaff. The point is that it’s state interference in the freedom of exchange.

      It’s quite possible that the state could put a tax on blog comments and ostensibly use those funds to subsidize those without broadband. Maybe they already are.

    • I find it is interesting how Bernstein addresses the ‘why not $90?’ question. Because it would effect 100% of workers, not less than 10%.

      Herein lies the very reason why I would expect many of the minimum wage studies to show low job elasticity — because the minimum wage before and after changes are often lower than the going market rate for labor.

      If the going rate for a Starbucks coffee is $5 and some city sets a minimum coffee price of $2, most people can clearly predict that the minimum coffee price will not have much effect on Starbucks’ sales.

      What would be more interesting is to see the studies broken into categories evaluated what the new/old minimum wage rates relative to the gong market rate for unskilled labor.

  4. Follow the money. Most union contracts are tied to the minimum wage. If the minimum wage increases, according to contract, the union worker’s wage increases by a commensurate amount.

    In the end, this concern about “poor folks” earning minimum wage is merely feigned; rather it is a money grab organized by the unions.

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