Monday, February 3, 2014

Platitudes Pundits Platypus

Not terribly shocking to catch a CNN making an incorrect claim and touting it as fact. But here I sit in the chicago airport, perfectly content to mutter to myself in an Ira Glass voice, and the almost inescapable speakers cut through my calm reverie with four pundits happily agreeing with eaxhother about how right they are about things such as the earned income tax credit and minimum wage.
Fantastic a strawman I didn't even have to supply the tinder, but I might just have a spark for it.
Minimum wage causes unemployment. This is simple, we can model it, it stands up to logical rigors. Why then were these four so pro minimum wage? Doesn't matter I suppose, its popular, people think it helps, the topic is trending. None of this matters though, the only actual argument that rose above platitude in this program was the idea that according to empirical evidence if you moderatly increase the minimum wage you will not see an increase in unemployment. This is true but only semantically. Unemployment is the rate of people actively looking for work but unable to gain any.
If wages are moderately raised it is unreasonable to assume that employers would fire a proportional ammount of staff. Work flow, human decency and many other factors would likely ensure that. But the problem is what isn't seen. Why should we assume that increased base wages will actually help anyone? The increase in wage does not garuantee an increase of purchasing power, or even higher income. One of the many ways as an employer to deal with the increased cost is cutting hours.
After cutting hours, perhaps benefits an enployer can forgo new highers and even look to outsourcing and mechanization.
All a minimum wage does is make the unskilled cost more than they are worth.
This entire argument ignores the core issue though. Minimum wage is an attempt to help the poor. To put a dent in suffering. But does it really? At best it just generates a little more taxable revenue for the state. That is unless they are also a student earning the EIO tax credit, which tends to put low earners at a negative tax rate.
So at best a minimum wage is annoying at worst is can cause catastrophic economic consequences.
But alas, left leaning economists behind incredibly hazy data rather than looking for the unseen. But I understand the former is cushy and looks impressive. It even seems rightous to hide behind platitudes of benevolence. At our best we can use logic to geuss at what may be contained in the unseen. This is historically a rare quality, bastiat was a mammal laying eggs. Golden economic egg. Not impossible, but so apparently rare.

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