Wednesday, March 12, 2014

How Minimum Wage Laws Facilitate "Wage Theft"—Against Employers

New Brunswick, New Jersey has passed an ordinance that would ban "wage theft"—a term used to describe an employer "paying [an employee] less than state and federally required minimum wage and overtime." 

As the NJ Star-Ledger reports:

Israel Lopez emigrated from Mexico to New Brunswick looking for a better life for his family. He got a job at a deli in the city, but realized sometime later that he was being paid less than the legal minimum wage.

Any business owner who pays less than legal minimum wage will be put out of business by the township, which has licensure power over "food service, retail and a variety of other types of businesses."

"Lopez said he 'finally stood up for my rights, filed a complaint with the New Jersey Department of Labor and was able to reclaim a considerable sum of wages stolen from me.'"

I left these comments:

Unjust laws that violate rights subvert concepts and invert justice. So-called "wage theft" is a case in point.

Theft is the taking of property against the rightful owner's will. Wages are not theft, since they are based on voluntary agreement. So, let's examine who is the thief here, and who is the victim.

Israel Lopez voluntarily agrees to take a job at a mutually agreed-upon wage. Now, he demands more money from his employer after the fact because a bunch of politicians decree that he was not paid what they think he should have been paid. What of his contractual agreement with the employer? Apparently, he feels entitled to violate that agreement with impunity, because he legally can.

And that is what is wrong with minimum wage laws: They violate the rights of employers and employees to voluntarily contract on mutually acceptable, mutually beneficial terms. Worse, they empower one party to unilaterally and immorally breach their side of the agreement, as Lopez is doing.

Such is the nature of minimum wage laws and related laws like the New Brunswick ordinance. They aid and abet perpetrators, turning them into victims, and turn innocent victims into the criminal. There is a "wage thief," all right. And it's not the employer, who took nothing from Lopez. The employer is the actual victim of theft. It is he whose property is being seized against his will.

If the term "wage theft" has any rational meaning, it applies to Lopez. The fact that the law backs him up just shows how corrupt our government, whose proper job is to protect us from thieves, has become. Unjust laws that violate rights subvert concepts and invert justice. Minimum wage laws are unjust, and should be repealed.

Related Reading:

Minimum Wage Issue is Not "about what it’s like to live on $7.25 an hour"

Some Fallacies Behind the Drive for the NJ Minimum Wage Increase Amendment

NJ's Minimum Wage Approval Highlights the Moral Disease that Afflicts America

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