Saturday, October 23, 2010

Unintended Consequences?

Leo Grin has a good piece on Big Hollywood about how the minimum wage ruined the movie going experience.

And yes, at movie theaters (movie palaces, they were called, and looked the part) they would usher you to your seat with a flashlight and a smile. If someone starting talking during the picture, the usher would shut them up. If the film was out of focus, an usher would alert the projectionist.

You were happy to have the service and the smile, they were happy to have the tip and the job. Everyone was happy. Life was good.

Then the liberals descended like vampires (the Stoker kind, not the Meyer kind) and passed all manner of laws and regulations about who these businesses could employ and at what price. Almost overnight, all of these service jobs vanished.

Why? Economist Peter Schiff explains it well in a trenchant article he wrote last year titled “Minimum Wage, Maximum Stupidity”:

When confronted with a clogged drain, most of us will call several plumbers and hire the one who quotes us the lowest price. If all the quotes are too high, most of us will grab some Drano and a wrench, and have at it. Labor markets work the same way. Before bringing on another worker, an employer must be convinced that the added productivity will exceed the added cost (this includes not just wages, but all payroll taxes and other benefits.) So if an unskilled worker is capable of delivering only $6 per hour of increased productivity, such an individual is legally unemployable with a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

These days we all go through life with our humanity and civilization diminished because of these laws. Look around, and you’ll see old people struggling to pump their gas or carry their luggage. You’ll see Mom and Dad ready to pop a blood vessel as they frantically navigate through computerized telephone menus looking for a real live human being who can help them. Simultaneously, you’ll see an ever-growing army of unskilled people — mostly teenagers looking to break into the job market — denied the opportunity to work because liberals have made it functionally illegal to employ them.

Such problems are a direct and predictable consequence of thoughtless wage and employer regulations, and they’ve wreaked quiet devastation on our society and standard of living, especially among the very people they were originally designed to help.

Go and read the rest.

Economists call this sort of thing an "unintended consequence", an unplanned on and unanticipated result of the six hundred pound gorilla of government regulation rampaging through the china shop of the economy.

In recent times I have tended to rethink the idea of unintended consequences, at least in situations like this. After all if teenagers get a taste of productive work. If they get a chance to feel the satisfaction of receiving a paycheck for a job well done (and feel the dismay of seeing how large a chunk of that paycheck is swallowed by state and federal government) they will be less dependent upon government. And worse, from the standpoint of the progressive left, they will be less desirous of being dependent upon government.

The same can be said of senior citizens. The less they depend upon their Social Security check the less susceptible they are to the Democrat party's lies about Republicans wanting the "steal their Social Security".

In short the left wants as few people looking to themselves for the fulfillment of life's needs as possible and as many looking to the government as possible. Make as many people practically unemployable as possible and you automatically grow your natural constituency.

And this is precisely what minimum wage laws do and do disproportionally to the young, seniors and minorities.

At first minimum wages were probably a well intentioned but misguided effort to elevate those at the lower end of the economic ladder. However now that their actual negative effects upon those they were intended to help can not be denied their current value to those who still support them cannot be denied either.