Both California and New York have passed minimum wage legislation that will prevent in relatively short order their citizens from working for less than fifteen dollars an hour. The New York bill will double the minimum wage. The California bill will increase the minimum wage by fifty percent. Even in a political climate growing increasing hostile to liberty such legislation stands out as an egregiously irresponsible and ignorant intrusion on freedom.
We hear a lot about “denialists” when it comes to climate change, but these enactments represent a massive denial about basic truths of economics. When a commodity—in this case labor—becomes substantially more expensive, people will buy less of it. The result of these laws will more unemployment for the least able among us.
Does anyone doubt that if newspapers, including those who editorialize in favor of such increases, were required by the government to double their subscription price that they would sell substantially fewer newspapers? Or if the government decreed that salaries of tenured professors must be go up by half, that colleges would substitute other kinds of instructional tools for tenured professors?
This is the saddest story of a billionaire ever told. The grandson of the richest man in American history, Nelson Rockefeller spent his life overcompensating for another kind of inheritance—dyslexia. As a result, he became a politician of grandiose ambitions, a bully to his brothers, and a relentless womanizer. Richard Norton Smith tells this tale well in his riveting, if sometimes overstuffed, biography, On His Own Terms. A great strength is to show how at the beginning Rockefeller’s hubris seemed well matched to the temper of the times. For the Democrats, Lyndon Johnson offered a vision of the great society for…